Dorchester Co. considering developers contributing to infrastructure improvements

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Dorchester County Planning Commission is moving forward with a proposal that would use new residential developments to help improve the area's infrastructure.

Most residents in the area agree that traffic is an issue.

"It's hard to go anywhere. It takes you hours," Ray Lewis said.

Lewis drives through Summerville almost daily.

"It's ridiculous. Something needs to be done about this," Summerville resident Jermaine Greene said. "People need to get where they need to go and have reliable sources to get there."

The County Planning Commission heard a proposal Thursday afternoon that would require new developers building ten or more residential units to help fund transportation improvements.

"All the units house people that will put trips on the roads with vehicles," Dorchester County Council Chairman Jay Byars said. "Our biggest complaint from residents is traffic, by far."

"It is unbelievable," Summerville resident Joyce Gotell said. "You need to widen the road before you put a house down there."

Dorchester County Council unanimously passed the first reading of this proposal before sending it to the Planning Commission.

Byars said it's a way to avoid a moratorium.

"All that does is exacerbate costs for people- it drives up housing costs, cost of businesses and it just hurts people in the long run. We want to find a way to continue to do business but grow in a smart way where everyone pitches in to solve the problems," Byars explained.
As one of the fastest growing counties in South Carolina, Byars said the infrastructure bill passed by the state in 2017 helps with filling pot holes and safety but it does not address growth. 
"We don't have anything that addresses future growth. This is something that we want to look at to see if it makes sense for Dorchester County. They're tired of sitting in traffic. I'm tired of sitting in traffic," Byars said.
Overall, the planning commission looked at the legality of this agenda item. They have not yet determined an exact amount that developers would have to contribute.

After County Council gave the green light to the proposal, the commissioners unanimously voted to conduct research to determine what exactly it means for developers to fund transportation improvements before they officially make a decision.

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