Citizens push back against high density development

Citizens push back against high density development
June 02 21:49 2017 Print This Article

There is a grassroots movement in West Ashley and other parts of the Charleston area opposing the trend of building high-density developments along already congested roads. When Shadowmoss Plantation resident Elisabeth Pickelsimer heard an economic development consultant speak about the need for more high density development at the March West Ashley Revitalization Commission meeting, she stated, “When I hear that, I think about more traffic and flooding. Why don’t you (planners) ask us what we want?”

Larry Freudenberg, owner of the Triest insurance agency in West Ashley, launched the Facebook page Save Ashley Hall Plantation to oppose the development of 61 small lot homes on the 45 acre property which was founded in the 1670s. The on-line petition on page states, “The (development) design is inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhoods and will impact the surrounding areas with increased traffic, decreased home values, water runoff, and parking issues from a (planned) new park.” The Facebook page currently has 1250 members.

Charleston City Council had an agenda item scheduled for May 30 to annex the Ashley Hall Plantation property, which Myrtle Beach developer Carolina Holdings Group paid the estate of Rosina Kennerty Seignious $4.4 Million to acquire, into the city. A day before the City Council meeting, Carolina Holdings Managing Partner Gary Wadsten sent the following e-mail to Mayor John Tecklenburg and the 12 members of Charleston City Council: “It is clear to me and the development team that we do not have council and city support for our annexation. Consequently, I am withdrawing the annexation request for the property known as Ashley Hall Plantation.”

Freudenberg organized a celebration for the annexation withdrawal at Andolini’s restaurant on Savannah Highway on May 30. City Council members Keith Waring and Kathleen Wilson attended, along with County Councilman Brantley Moody. Carolina Holdings Group will likely pursue its development of the Ashley Hall Plantation property through Charleston County Council.

Charleston County Council recently had a vote on whether to pursue a moratorium on high density development on James Island. Councilmen Brantley Moody, Elliott Summey, Herb Sass, and Teddie Pryor voted against sending the moratorium issue to the Charleston County Planning Commission. Councilwoman Anna Johnson of James Island walked out of the meeting before the vote, resulting in a 4-4 deadlock and a failed motion. County Councilman Joe Qualey of James Island successfully got the moratorium issue added to the June 12 Planning Commission agenda.

There is a clear battle between elected officials who want unlimited development in Charleston’s suburban communities and those who want to preserve the suburban character of single-family home subdivisions. A growing number of citizens are speaking out against high density development in the suburban communities.