Residents lose to developer

Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails said the town “will mitigate the traffic as best we can” with the new development.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Gloria Walker anticipated a peaceful retirement from her nursing career, until she heard about plans for nearly 600 homes at the end of Six Mile Road.

“I really thought I was going to lead a quiet life,” she said.

Now she worries about construction trucks and thousands of cars disrupting her tranquility.

“I’m not mad, but I wish they would give us some respect,” Walker said.

Walker, 65, said she expressed her worries about the Oyster Point development at meetings of the Planning Commission and Town Council.

She felt that her opinion and those of other Six Mile community residents fell on deaf ears.

“The first time I went, I cried,” she said.

On Tuesday night, Walker was back before council to again tell about her concerns.

“You people have made my retirement a headache,” she said. “You have won this battle but you have not won the war.”

After Walker and other opponents spoke, council approved annexation of 628 acres for the development, as well as zoning to make it possible.

A primary concern of those opposed is the traffic it will bring to rural Six Mile Road.

“We will mitigate the traffic as best we can. We will do everything we possibly can,” Mayor Billy Swails told the audience after the third and final vote in favor of the project.

Councilman Chris Nickels said council cares about the concerns of the people, and the approval process for the project was open and transparent.

D.R. Horton, the Oyster Point developer, plans 593 homes on highland near the intersection of Six Mile and Palmetto Fort roads.

Six Mile resident Cheryl Mitchum worries that the resulting traffic will be a nightmare. She noted that a 250-home development called Palmetto Fort has been approved in Charleston County and will adjoin Oyster Point.

“It’s a true David and Goliath story. What they are doing is wrong,” Mitchum said.

Swails said in an interview before the council vote that the council represents all residents.

“It’s not like we don’t listen to anybody. That’s not true,” he said.

Oyster Point will not be completely built out for 10 to 15 years, he said.

The town will require Palmetto Fort developers to build a new road connecting the subdivision to Rifle Range Road, which will take pressure off Six Mile Road, he said.

And the requirements for green space are greater in Mount Pleasant than in Charleston County, he said.

“The people have a right to develop their property. We represent everybody in Mount Pleasant,” he said.

Another factor in the situation is plans to turn the Palmetto Fort historic site into a military-themed park open to the public.

D.R. Horton said it has a partnership with the S.C. Military Historical Preservation Society and the town to save Palmetto Fort, the last-known surviving military structure located east of the Cooper.

“This will be such a great addition to Mount Pleasant. The fort was built by slaves, so we would be saving an important earthwork structure,” said Brian Gardner, president of the D.R. Horton Coastal Carolina Division.

Gardner did not respond to e-mail questions seeking information on how the company will mitigate the Oyster Point traffic effect on Six Mile Road.

Kelly Cousino, a senior planner with the town, said D.R. Horton has agreed to build a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on Six Mile Road starting at Rifle Range Road and extending to Palmetto Fort Road.

In addition, the developer will work to improve vehicle flow on Six Mile through the installation of new “adaptive” traffic signals on Rifle Range and at U.S. 17 and Six Mile.

The state-of-the-art system, already in place on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, senses when cars approach and reacts to keep them flowing smoothly.