City Council votes unanimously to continue James Island moratorium

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council voted unanimously in favor for an amended moratorium on James Island.

The ordinance calls for a temporary ban on large developments on James Island in commercial areas. The main goal is to put a pause on the development of apartment complexes on the island.

The six- month moratorium began in May, putting a pause on development for the past three months.

There were many people from the community who spoke out in favor including James Island resident, Margaret Fabri.

"I'm delighted we have a moratorium," Fabri said.

However, Fabri was against the new change to the ordinance that will now allow larger developments on the Island during the ban.

As a result of Monday's council meeting the temporary ban will allow developments that are four units or 25,000 square feet or less, that's about the size of half a football field. The previous cut-off was 1,500 square feet when the moratorium was passed in May, that's about the size of a single-family residence with three to four bedrooms.

"That means they'll be looking at commercial properties where people want to put a big box store like a Walmart, although we already have a Walmart, that's my objection," Fabri said.

Charleston City council member Kathleen Wilson is in favor of the moratorium and supports the new revision. She says the previous version halted small business owners from pursing their plans.

"The amendment was offered simply to bring them some relief, for them to continue their projects while the moratorium is in effect," Wilson said.

The purpose of the temporary ban on development is to give leaders the opportunity to develop a growth plan for James Island. This includes a study that will cover uses, density of development and height and dimensional requirements for future development.

"I've lived here for 33 years the traffic is terrible, we don't need another big box," Fabri said. "Actually we don't need anymore apartments,  we need more infrastructure, we need public transportation."

Some council members expressed the need to give attention to a plan for the future James Island as the city has for the future of West Ashley.

"This moratorium represents the first level of greater community spirit, bringing the government to work on a more comprehensive plan for the Island," Wilson said.

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