City Council to meet in West Ashley Tuesday

City Council to meet in West Ashley Tuesday
February 09 13:13 2018 Print This Article

Charleston City Council will hold its meeting in West Ashley Tuesday at 5 pm at The Schoolhouse, a former elementary school converted into commercial office space.  At the top of the agenda is a public hearing on the West Ashley Master Plan.  The plan, guided by the consulting firm Dover Kohl, embraces the concept of New Urbanism, which calls for high-density apartment complexes and lots of spending on pedestrian and bicycle paths and mass transportation.  The plan would serve as a blueprint for future West Ashley development.  Read the latest draft document here.

Among the concepts embraced in New Urbanism is “retro-fitting suburbia”, which operates on the belief that people living in single-family homes and travel by car have too large of a “carbon footprint.”  When this concept was described at the March 2017 meeting of the West Ashley Revitalization Commission, a 18-member group of elected and appoint officials which will recommend master plan implementation steps, Shadowmoss Plantation resident Elisabeth Pickelsimer said, “Who asked us what we want?  When I hear high-density, I think about more traffic and more flooding.”

In the original draft of the master plan, there was a drawing of Citadel Mall with no parking spaces, operating on the assumption that people would get there by riding bicycles or taking the bus.  MUSC recently leased the former JC Penney space for an out-patient clinic largely because it offers their patients and employees free parking.  Trademark Properties, the mall’s ownership group, plans to build an Event Center for traveling sports teams, which would lure thousands of visitors to the area each weekend.  They would be coming from hundreds of miles away in buses, vans, and cars to participate in sports tournaments and cheerleading and dance competitions.

Another piece of the plan focuses on drainage.  The plan provides a variety of strategies, including tree-planting, using permeable pavement, retrofitting parks with absorbent plants, digging retention ponds and providing reduced stormwater fees for businesses which upgrade their parking lots in ways that reduce runoff.  First-year City Council members Harry Griffin, Kevin Shealy and Carol Jackson all made drainage a major issue in their campaigns and will have a chance to speak about the master plan for the first time.  The Church Creek Drainage Basin Study report, which impacts  neighborhoods along Ashley River Road and Bees Ferry Road, is expected to be released later this month.  It recommends spending $44 Million in drainage infrastructure projects.

There will be a public comment period Tuesday before City Council discusses the West Ashley Master Plan.