This isn’t the first time that neighbors have gone to bat to protect Five Points from what they believe is inappropriate commercial development.
In 2008 they struggled and succeeded in getting low density commercial zoning for the area of James Island where Maybank Highway and Woodland Shores Road meet.
The area hasn’t changed dramatically since then, and neighbors see no need to change zoning now. Charleston County Council should respect their wishes.
Residents want to see something similar to what the same developers envisioned four years ago for the busy area flanked by other commercial properties. Potential uses could include small businesses such as a coffee shop, book store, spa or sandwich shop.
They don’t want to see the expanded commercial options that a zoning change from Commercial Planned Unit Development (PUD) to Community Commercial would allow, including fast-food restaurants and gas stations.
County Council is expected to take a final vote today on the owners’ request to rezone the property. It previously voted 4-3 in favor of the change.
But council members should not approach today’s vote as a fait accompli. Neighbors have worthy concerns that need council’s full attention.
Residents of Woodland Shores and Riverland Terrace, the two neighborhoods closest to Five Points, have a vision of their community as a pedestrian/bicycle-friendly place with a village vibe — like Avondale in West Ashley. Nearby businesses already set the tone: an independent movie theatre, several small restaurants, a dress shop, a flower store and a hair salon.
And during the 2008 discussion, the developer envisioned just such businesses with landscaping that included magnolia trees along Maybank Highway and vegetative buffers separating the commercial area from surrounding residences.
Being next door to a fast-food restaurant would be something completely different, and while the developer has expressed no interest in such a use, residents understandably don’t want the possibility even on the table.
The PUD zoning designation was approved by the Town of James Island after years of conversation with the neighborhoods.
When the town was dissolved, the county wisely agreed to respect that zoning.
In recent public hearings, residents have urged council to maintain the zoning as is. Their reasons are the same as they were four years ago.
County Council should be paying attention.