Berkeley County reviewing comprehensive plan to tackle soaring growth

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County Government is updating its comprehensive plan to meet the needs of growth in the area.

The Land Use and Economic Development Committee met on Monday to discuss the 5-year review of the county's comprehensive plan and the future growth of the county.

County officials say Berkeley County is expected to have the highest population growth rate over the next 20 years in the region.

Sangaree area resident Don Best says traffic is a concern.

"I think we are behind, I think the growth has surged out ahead of the infrastructure already. You see that in the roads particularly," Best said.

Berkeley County is a fast growing area with industrial and manufacturing businesses like Volvo bringing in thousands of jobs and people.

"We are playing a catch up game. There is no if and butts or maybes about it," said Bill Peagler, Berkeley County supervisor and council chairman. "We are trying to bring in as much business as possible that's where the tax base is. That's what pays for improvements to our infrastructure."

According to the meeting materials, in 2010, the SC Office of Research and Statistics projected the county's population would reach 194,000 around the year 2025.

The US Census Bureau American Community Survey has estimated that projected population has already been reached.

The long term plan will address maintaining adequate water and sewer services as new homes go up.

County officials say there are more than 65,000 dwelling units that include apartments or homes that have already been developer approved.

"We have an overburdensome number of home sites that have already been permitted by previous administrations," Peagler said.

Council is considering  being more restrictive in future approvals by requiring green space and developers to contribute to improving the infrastructure.

Residents want to maintain a high quality of life.

"We're thinking not just of ourselves and bringing in industry and businesses for today, but what are we going to preserve for our kids," Best said. "There needs to be a sweet spot I call 'Godly wisdom' in managing growth."

Council members are in the process of creating a subcommittee that will travel to the state capitol to inquire about receiving more funding for roads.

Council is still making revisions to the comprehensive plan.

It will need council approval.

At least one council member says he has reservations about creating new industries without knowing the impact on roads and infrastructure.

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