Summerville Town Council

A packed house looks on as Summerville Town Council convenes its monthly meeting on June 13, 2019. Conner Mitchell/staff

SUMMERVILLE — Brian Goldsberry’s home sits on West Carolina Avenue in this town's historic district, a plot of land that has been settled since the mid-1700s. It’s what prompted him and his wife Emilie to buy the property in the first place.

The Goldsberry's home, built around 1870, also sits near the town’s infamous Five Points intersection at the southernmost part of the historic district. The area around this intersection saw 60 crashes in a three-year stretch — leading Town Council to consider retrofitting the crossroads either a roundabout or with additional turn lanes.

But Goldsberry is wary of the possible changes.

“Quite frankly, looking at the plans, our home would be severely impacted. It would really cut into our property by a fairly large margin — 20 feet at least, and a good portion of our front yard, as well,” he said. “Aside from the personal issue of the property, I really do feel strongly about the fact it’s a residential historic district where we’re very stringent on changing your homes. I feel like we’re losing a little bit of that identity and integrity.”

Goldsberry and other residents whose property could be impacted voiced their concerns Thursday night before Town Council. Construction of any kind at the intersection, they said, could erode the quality of the historic district.

“What good is a historic district if the land is up for grabs?” Goldsberry asked council members.

If a resident in Summerville’s historic district wants to make a change on their property — a change to a shed, garage, driveway, even a screen door — they must get the approval from the town’s Board of Architectural Review.

The rules for government intervention in the historic district, however, aren’t as clear. City statutes don’t explicitly address how government-initiated projects must be reviewed and approved, other than by a Town Council vote.

Bonnie Miley, assistant town engineer, said while she wasn’t clear on specific rules regarding capital improvement projects, she understands why residents are concerned.

“I know the town is always concerned and cognizant and wants to keep in line with the historic nature,” she said.

Councilman Walter Bailey, whose district includes the intersection, asked Public Works Director Russ Cornette for more detailed renderings of what property would be impacted by both options.

Cornette said either project would require roughly about 18,000 square feet of property, about 7,000 of which would come from nearby property owners. Bailey asked to postpone discussion on any construction plan until those more detailed drawings are provided to the council. Cornette said that could take a month or two.

“I believe we need to do some more preliminary stuff before we get into final designs and different things,” Bailey said. “I personally don’t know right now whether I’d vote to do this or not."

Retrofitting the intersection as a roundabout would cost about $813,200, while adding turn lanes would cost about $830,000. Cornette said the town already has that money in its public works budget this fiscal year.

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Contact Conner Mitchell at 843-958-1336. Follow him on Twitter at @ConnerMitchell0.

Conner Mitchell is a Kansas native covering Berkeley and Dorchester counties for The Post and Courier. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked previously at the Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World and Palm Beach Post.

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