Charleston City Council rethinking plan to fix flooding on James and Johns islands

Charleston City Council rethinking plan to fix flooding on James and Johns islands
City of Charleston officials will consider a new proposal on Tuesday night to establish a building moratorium for certain areas on James Island and Johns Island. (Source: Brad Streicher)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council is rethinking a plan to fix flooding on James and Johns islands.

On Tuesday night, they considered an ordinance that would temporarily stop permits and approvals for areas that see a lot of flooding.

Now, city council is sending that proposal back to the Public Works Committee to talk about temporarily expanding the Church Creek drainage standards to the whole city instead.

Council said it would be a short-term fix until the Stormwater Design Standards Manual is updated in the fall.

Councilwoman Carol Jackson proposed the ordinance which would restrict permits and approvals for flood-prone areas on the islands.

“This is the new reality that we’re living with,” Johns Island resident Lisa Vandiver said. “People need to recognize that we’re not going to get away from flooding.”

According to the proposal, the moratorium would give the city time to “update and revise its Stormwater Design Standards Manual to ensure the sustainability of development on James Island and Johns Island.”

The pause on development would only apply to areas defined as “Special Flood Hazard Areas,” which are areas that have a one percent or higher chance of flooding in any given year.

“There’s never been a really good way of making sure that we’re improving and maintaining the ditch systems that we need,” Jackson said.

Jackson is hoping a moratorium on development would fix that, but residents are just crossing their fingers that tonight’s proposal opens a few eyes.

“If we can just shed a little light on city council members and make them start to see this flooding issue in a different light and that we need to be informed when we developed in these risky locations in Charleston,” Jackson said.

According to the ordinance, the final draft of the Stormwater Design Standards Manual should be finished during summer of 2019 and adopted by City Council during fall of 2019.

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