Mount Pleasant needs a good comprehensive plan to help guide the town’s explosive growth over the next ten years. And by most accounts, a good and inclusive team of 34 community members is set to help develop that plan over the next few months.
Those volunteers, all of whom offered to serve on the comprehensive plan committee because they want to help build a better Mount Pleasant, should be allowed to do their jobs.
Unfortunately, a few town council members have butted into the process prematurely based on unfounded assertions that the committee is insufficiently anti-growth.
Councilman Joe Bustos, for example, suggested that, “a year from now, when they complete their work, they’ll offer something that would be rejected by the council, and we’ll go back to square one.”
Councilman Will Haynie, who is running for mayor this year, agreed.
The criticism is unwarranted, particularly at this point. For one thing, the committee hasn’t even started work yet, so there’s zero indication that its eventual plan would be unacceptable to Town Council when finished.
And there is an election in November for four Town Council seats, three of which will not have incumbents in the race, meaning that citizens of Mount Pleasant will soon have the opportunity to dramatically reshape the council should they so choose. And given the heightened political tension that has roiled the town over the past few years, voter turnout is likely to be relatively strong.
But while a Town Council race is unavoidably political, developing a town comprehensive plan should not be.
The comprehensive plan is not an ideological manifesto but rather a methodical guidebook for shaping the next decade of growth and change in Mount Pleasant. And since growth and change are inevitable, regardless of what some sitting council members may suggest, it’s important to have a sound plan for managing those shifts.
The current comprehensive plan, for example, calls for sensible things like subtle increases in density in a few key areas of the town that would serve for the development of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods such as in the Coleman Boulevard corridor and at the base of the Ravenel Bridge.
It calls for better bike and pedestrian connectivity, a focus on public transportation and needed road improvements.
And perhaps most importantly, it makes recommendations about things like buffers and green space and zoning that help preserve the Mount Pleasant character that drew residents to the town in the first place.
In other words, it’s a balanced, well-reasoned document that was created thanks to the input of many dedicated and passionate Mount Pleasant community members. The new comprehensive plan should be no different.
To be sure, the comprehensive plan committee has a more challenging job today than its predecessors. Growth is faster, residents are more concerned and political realities mean that the plan will have to please diverse and often ideologically opposed constituencies.
But Mount Pleasant’s leaders should support and encourage the committee to create the best plan possible rather than criticize its work before it even gets started.