DuPont/Wappoo Community Plan gets initial approval

DuPont/Wappoo Community Plan gets initial approval

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Changes could soon be coming to the DuPont/Wappoo Community, also known as the DuWap area, thanks to major approval Monday.

The Charleston County Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to the Community Plan at its regularly scheduled meeting, the first step in moving the plan forward.

The spans East of Sam Rittenberg Boulevard to just East of Wappoo Road, and South of Ashley River Road to the West Ashley Greenway.

The plan looks to revitalize the area and highlight pride points such as West Ashley's strong sense of community, great neighborhoods, local businesses, and unique parks and public spaces.

The issue is that half of the properties in the area are in the City of Charleston and the other half are in unincorporated Charleston County.

"It makes it difficult if we're not coordinating," said Charlie Smith, a Planning Commission board member.

Since June 9, 2015 both County and City staff held several public workshops to find out what residents in the area would like to see.

Almost 650 people attended one or more of those public workshops to contribute their ideas.

"This has been a really great example of good coordination between the County and City staff and also with the community's involvement," Smith said.

Among the issues brought up, drainage, appearance, and pedestrian/bicycle right of ways were of importance.

One major focus is the intersection of Wappoo Road and Savannah Highway.

Buildings remain empty at the intersection and a large parcel of land has been left untouched for several years.

A rendering of the area shows buildings lining the roadway, medians placed on Savannah Highway, and trees added around the intersection to help with the beautification.

The plan also looks to create a safer intersection for bicyclists and pedestrians.

"It's such a key location because it connects the bikeway with the Greenway," said Frances Waite, who lives near the Greenway. "If you can get that crossable and walkable to the point where you can cross the street without being afraid. That would just be amazing."

The intersection isn't the only aspect people are excited about.

"The drainage and how pretty it's going to look afterwards," said Rufus Fields, who owns property in the area.

County staff says this is a special protection area when it comes to drainage. It requires a more demanding design. The plan suggests conducting a drainage study with both the county and city.

As for commercial entities, the plan wants people to think locally.

"I would really like to see something like restaurants and retail," Waite said. "Something that really livens up that corner."

"It's going to bring business to the area and a big improvement to the area, which is really needed," Fields added.

Some of these plans could be seen within the next six to 12 months.

"They're low impact in terms of cost but they're major impact in terms of how people feel about the community," Smith said.

The plan will go before County Council for a public hearing on June 7.

The Planning and Public Works Committee will have a meeting on it June 16.

County Council will have its first reading of the plan June 21.

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