Neighbors express concerns about proposed development on James Island

Residents in a James Island neighborhood say they are worried about the impacts of more buildings and people that a proposed development could bring to the area
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 4:50 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 10:25 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Residents in a James Island neighborhood say they are worried about the impacts of more buildings and people that a proposed development could bring to the area.

The six-and-a-half-acre property is located along Dills Bluff Road and backs up to the Whitehouse Plantation neighborhood. Neighbors heard about the plans from the developer posting a public meeting notice and even after learning more about the proposal, have some concerns.

John Peters lives in the Whitehouse Plantation neighborhood.

“My neighbors and I and those who have signed the petitions that have been going around have spoken and say they want green space. We want something other than more buildings here on James Island. So whatever they do this evening, you know as we I’ve put up a good fight,” Peters says.

Peters says he researched the impacts of flooding, crime and traffic, by measuring land and ditches and requesting call logs and talking to neighbors. He plans to present his six pages on insight to the planning committee when it hears the proposal. Peters says flooding is the biggest concern.

“Because the stormwater you only do so much with it. Yes, the developer can plan for multiple stormwater systems and put in ponds and things like that, but it will still eventually come to us if there’s a significant rain that will push it all over to overflow,” Peters says.

The developer is a local business called the Taylor Consulting Group. Their proposal for ‘Marsh Walk Village’ does provide details including stormwater and runoff plans. The design includes three retention ponds and other measures on their property. The proposal also details which trees will be removed and why.

Most are in poor condition, and the majority of healthy grand oaks are set to be kept.

“Of course the developer has done as best I believe to keep the trees that are in good condition. But the same time we hear they’re still going to take out this whole green space that will be turned into more or less impervious surfaces that will flow water down into our neighborhood,” Peters says.

Scott Edwards lives along the edge of the Marsh Walk Village property and says he worries about the water runoff, especially the connecting pipe to the existing one in his yard.

“I’ve had issues with water overflowing and in my yard just with some heavy rains in April and May before even storm season catches up to us like hurricane season. And so I’d say it’s really a big concern to me because it’s going t potentially damage my property in the surrounding area” Edwards says.

He also submitted a public comment ahead of the meeting showing current flooding issues he fears will be exasperated. The Whithouse Plantation owners say they also want to keep their neighborhoods separate. They first opposed a connecting road, and still oppose a connecting sidewalk.

“Yes, we like being neighborly and being able to communicate with each other and see each other and go from neighborhood to neighborhood. But connecting it will invite more crime, it’ll invite other outsiders. We anticipate that the local ATVs will drive through here if it’s opened up enough because it’s right there connecting to Dills Bluff which does have some good activity with it,” Peters says.

The proposal does fall within James Island standards and adheres to its zoning requirements. The proposal includes letters of accommodation from schools, law enforcement, EMS, power and sewer explaining those services will be able to take on the development.

But neighbors say they think those rules don’t take the nearby property impact enough into account.

“We’ll go and speak our piece tonight. And hopefully, the town and the developer will listen to what we have to say and consider. Consider a path forward that agrees with all of us,” Edwards says.

Edwards and Peters say if something will be built on the property, they want it to be less dense to preserve the sanctity of the area.

The JI Planning Commission had three of the five commissioners present at the meeting. The neighbors came out and filled the public comment with opposition. The developer gave a presentation as well. Some of the three commissioners were not ready to vote so they voted unanimously to table the decision until their next meeting.

You can read the full Marsh Walk Village development proposal here.