Dorchester County prepares first comprehensive conservation plan

VIDEO: Dorchester County prepares first comprehensive conservation plan

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County’s Conservation Commission is putting the final touches on their first comprehensive Conservation Plan. It is a guiding document that will serve as the framework for projects and policies impacting in the county.

Derrick Phinney is the Chairman of the Conservation Commission. He says this document has been years in the making.

“One of our main goals on the commission is to protect or preserve our natural land, ecosystems and historical culture of Dorchester County,” Phinney said.

The plan outlines how the county hopes to protect natural environments and address threats. Eric Davis, director Dorchester County Parks and Recreation, says they are particularly concerned with waterways and wetlands.

“We have a lot of high-quality wetlands that are intact here in Dorchester County that derive all kinds of benefits like flood control, filtering pollutants out of water and wildlife habitats,” Davis said. “So, we are really prioritizing these bodies of water, protecting them and providing a buffer around them.”

The biggest threat to the natural environment is people. The document projects Dorchester County will grow its population by 32 percent in the next 10 years. With an exploding population comes increased demand on infrastructure.

Summerville and North Charleston are the two areas expected to see a massive in uptick in population.

Mary Edwards is the public information officer for the Town of Summerville. She says they are prepared to deal with sustained population growth.

“Our area is one of the top most desirable places to work and live in not just the country but the entire world,” Edwards said. “We are growing, and we are growing very fast. It is important to us to make sure we are keeping up with that growth while keeping what’s always been here.”

One of the biggest infrastructure issues will be accommodating more traffic.

The city could not project how much money would be needed to maintain and expand roads in Summerville, but in 2020 they resurfaced 29 roads and finished the Bear Island Road Extension project that cost $6.6 million.

“We understand that roads are a top priority for people in town. We have over 50,000 residents and ever more people driving through town every day,” Edwards said. “We are always looking at places that we can build new roads to limit traffic and we’re paving and remodeling many of the roads that have always been here.”

According to the Summerville Comprehensive Plan, there are several projects currently underway to relieve congestion and prepare for the future. Those projects are: Highway 78 improvement projects, Berlin G. Myers Parkway extension, North Maple Street extension, and a potential new I-26 interchange at mile marker 201.

You can learn more about how Summerville is planning for the future by looking through their Comprehensive Plan.

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