Johns Island zoning changes to shape future growth in rural area

VIDEO: Johns Island zoning changes to shape future growth in rural area

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County leaders are looking at how zoning changes on Johns Island can help with the impacts of increased growth along Main Road.

Barbara Ambrose, owner of the Stono Market and Tomato Shed Cafe, said as her business has changed so has Johns Island.

“We started off as an open-air farmers market as a way to bridge the gap between our farm on Wadmalaw and civilization,” Ambrose said. “It’s grown so much. The island has changed so quickly and we are in such need of some major improvements to our roadways.”

Along with fixing congested roads, Charleston County has been working for years to map out where future developments, businesses and neighborhoods should sit along Main Road.

That’s where the Main Road Corridor Overlay Zoning District comes into help.

The county proposes to create four new zoning districts in the Main Road area between River Road and Patton Avenue that would determine how and where new businesses and homes can be developed in the future.

The chair of the John’s Island Task Force John Zlogar said it’s the right step to organize the growth in this area while also preserving the historically rural nature of the island.

”The other 75% of the island though is very rural and it’s not what people expect this close to Charleston, so it’s very important to have something like this this close to Charleston and maintain it for the community,” Zlogar said. “There can be an urban and a rural part of Johns Island.”

The four main zoning sections include the Belvedere-Main District, Rural Commercial District as well as the Kitford Community Residential and Industrial districts.

Ambrose said her cafe and market would be rezoned from commercial to industrial property if she ever plans to sell the land.

“It affects us when we get ready to sell and no, I don’t really want that to affect us, but it needs to happen,” Ambrose said. “Johns Island needs some planning because it’s growing so much.”

The change will also require any new development along Main Road to include a multi-use path for walkers and bikers.

Betsy LaForce with the Coastal Conservation League says it’s a welcome change in the area.

“As the corridor develops or re-develops there will be requirement standards to include bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, a multi-use path,” LaForce said.

On Thursday, members of the county’s planning and public works committee will vote on the zoning changes.

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