Growth and development certainly help fuel the Charleston area’s booming economy, but it’s important that we balance those economic successes with safeguards against the potential perils of all that progress.
On Tuesday, a trio of proposals will be discussed that could help protect the things that make Charleston so special — or potentially harm its unique character.
New rules aimed at slowing hotel development in downtown Charleston took another step toward being adopted Tuesday, but one more vote is needed to make them final.
Charleston City Council should give final approval to a stronger hotel ordinance. Various interests have spent a lot of time working on a measure that would balance the needs of the city’s tourism industry and livability for residents. It’s time to give it final approval.
While the hotel measure is ready for approval, more study is needed on a proposed ordinance to regulate rooftop bars. City Council should send the measure to the hotel task force for additional work and to gather input from neighborhoods.
Rooftop bars can offer some great views and ambiance, but they are proliferating across the city, and not just on top of hotels. Amendments to the proposed ordinance would limit rooftop bars as a “special exception” in defined commercial areas. The Preservation Society of Charleston rightly points out that while the measure addresses noise and light pollution, it also must take into account traffic, visibility and any impacts on historic buildings.
On Tuesday, anyone concerned about protecting the iconic trees lining S.C. Highway 61 should attend a public hearing on a plan that could forever alter the historic nature of that National Scenic Byway.
The SC Department of Transportation plans to widen Ashley River Road and cut down hundreds of trees, to improve safety on the accident-prone road, but that's proven controversial.
The state Department of Transportation wants to cut down dozens or even hundreds of trees to widen the Dorchester County part of the highway in the historic plantation district. That’s a serious impact on a road that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a national treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The widening plan far exceeds what is necessary and would harm the beautiful tree canopy that helps define one of the Lowcountry’s special places.
The two-lane road certainly needs to be made safer, but adding 4 feet to each shoulder along with 20-foot or even 12-foot clear zones along the sides of the highway would be excessive.
The DOT should consider a less-harmful option such as adding 2 feet to the shoulders and adding rumble strips. Those changes seem to have made a difference on the Charleston County part of the highway in the plantation district. Law enforcement also should be more vigilant about enforcing the speed limit in that area.
Let your voice be heard on these important preservation and conservation issues.
It’s vital that we protect what makes Charleston special.