Charleston city plan raises concerns for Cainhoy growth

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 9:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston’s new comprehensive plan is one step closer to getting approval after passing through the first reading during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

The city plan will be used as a guide for decisions impacting the community for the next decade. It focuses on priorities for issues like flooding, affordability, and equity.

While some people believe most of the plan takes a positive approach and they are pleased with the direction of the plan, they also believe the future land-use map for the Cainhoy Peninsula is inconsistent with the direction of the plan.

Although the land-use recommendations within the plan are just suggestions, they can be used as guidelines for zoning changes, redevelopment, and opportunities for growth.

The current map for upper Cainhoy endorses it as a good place for growth because of its high elevation, so some of the areas are recommended for low-density suburban zoning.

The Coastal Conservation League and some Cainhoy residents want the city to amend that part of its plan, and change the zoning to low impact/conserved. The change would restrict development and preserve the land.

“The question we are asking ourselves is do we want low density suburban sprawl on upper Cainhoy which has some of the highest land in the city of Charleston? How are we going to maximize that land to thinking about affordability challenges, thinking about traffic congestion, thinking about preserving these cultural and natural resources,” said Betsy La Force, senior project manager for the coastal conservation league. “The best way to do that would be to concentrate the growth and development along the Clement’s Ferry corridor. That way we can increase density there and preserve and protect those resources on the upper part and the area in the south that are going to be susceptible to sea level rise in the future.”

MaeRe Chandler Skinner lives in the Cainhoy area and is the chair of the Cainhoy Methodist Church & Cemetery. She believes the conservation league’s idea is what will be best to preserve the area’s resources.

“There are thousands of acres that the city is taking up, when they can do the concentrated effort as in the coastal conservation league’s plan and leave much more of the beautiful higher ground as conservation easement,” Skinner said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, city council members stressed that there will be another workshop and ways for people to express their opinions about the plan before it goes to council for a second and third reading.

In September, city council will have a joint workshop with the planning commission to make any changes to the plan. It will go before council for the second and third reading later that month.

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