More than 100 residents, mostly from subdivisions along the flood-prone Church Creek Drainage Basin, attended a presentation by Rivers Enterprises about a proposed development outside West Ashley Circle across Bees Ferry Rd. from Walmart. The development would include a 53,000 square ft. Harris Teeter as the anchor store and five other retail spaces between 4000 and 6000 square feet. The complex would include 350 parking spaces.
William O’Neill, with the engineering and site development firm Seamon Whiteside, said the 15-acre site would include two retention ponds capable of holding 40,000 gallons of stormwater. He said that the drainage plan would include catch basins throughout the site and 36-inch diameter piping which would drain into Church Creek. He contends the site would drain more efficiently than it does in its current undeveloped configuration.
Many of the residents who spoke at the meeting were skeptical of the development’s impact on drainage. Randy Harley, who has lived in Hickory Farms for 25 years, says he never experienced flooding on his property until the Bees Ferry Rd. widening project was completed in 2015. He contends that the construction of West Ashley Circle made drainage worse. Lowcountry Source has previously documented problems associated with West Ashley Circle – http://lowcountrysource.com/lowcountry-watchdog/west-ashley-circle-the-road-to-nowhere/
A resident from the Bull Creek development (near the Pierpont neighborhood) along Ashley River Rd. claimed that he has to drive 45 minutes to buy groceries. He equated the residents who were skeptical to the proposed development to a lynch mob, which drew an emotional reaction from most people in attendance.
Other concerns were raised about the impact the Harris Teeter complex would have on traffic along an already congested Bees Ferry Rd. Of particular concern was the impact of the plan to have 18-wheeler delivery trucks turn left onto Grand Oaks Blvd. Engineers representing the developer said they would revisit the traffic routing.
Charleston City Councilman Dean Riegel, who represents most people within the Church Creek Drainage Basin, encouraged residents to attend the Design Review Board (DRB) meeting Mon., Apr. 3 at 5 pm behind the Gaillard Center and make their voices heard. The DRB can only address architecture, landscaping, signage, lighting and other aesthetic aspects of the proposed development. Riegel said he would urge city staff to move the future Technical Review Committee hearing, which addresses drainage and traffic issues, to a larger meeting space so residents could attend.