Residents talk traffic concerns with James Island development

Published: Mar. 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2014 at 1:07 AM EST
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JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - City of Charleston leaders are laying out their plans for developing James Island in a public meeting this week. However, big changes for one area have some neighbors concerned.

The intersection of Maybank Highway and Folly Road has been coined the Gathering Place. Christopher Morgan with the City of Charleston says the intersection is a key crossroad for James Island. It's one that they want to enhance. However, some James Island town council members want to keep the town, just how it is.

"To me, its an overdeveloped community and I'd rather call it that than a gathering place," said Leonard Blank, James Island Town Councilman.

Blank says he's worried the city doesn't have the same mindset as the town when it comes to what fits best for the James Island community. Blanks says everyone he's talked to is against the city plan to develop. However, Morgan tells Live 5 that substantial public input was taken over the years before the plan was put into motion.

"I can't stand all the trees to be gone," said Sue Crawford, hairdresser in James Island.

Some of land has already been flattened, making room for four-story luxury apartments called The Standard. It will be accompanied by a four-level parking garage.

It's the first phase of a bigger plan that's been in the works since the early 2000s to transform the Gathering Place. Morgan says the city wants to create a denser, yet more pedestrian friendly, environment with room to work, live and play.

Blank worries that with more residents moving to the area, it will create more strain on the current community.

"We don't have the infrastructure, we don't have the schools to support it," said Blank.

Some residents are also concerned it's going to create a traffic nightmare.

"Of course having new clients is always a good thing but I think of it more as practicality, as far as traffic, and just more congestion on James Island," said Crawford.

Morgan says their hope is that by creative a place where people can access retail, office and residential, the ultimate goal is to cut down on residents' need to use their cars.

However, not everyone thinks it will be a negative thing.

"For myself, as a business owner, owning two businesses in the same shopping center, I'm completely for it," Christy Bishop, store owner.

Bishop says since the Piggly Wiggly closed it's doors in the James Island Shopping Center, the nearby business have seen a drop in business. She's eager to get more foot traffic through her doors.

"Business is business," said Bishop.

Morgan also tells Live 5 that these plans have been in the works for years, but due to downturn in economy the development is just now starting.

If you want to learn more about development plans for the development plans for James Island, state, city and county leaders will be discussing it at a public meeting. It's happening Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the James Island Town Hall.

The meeting is aimed at discussing the vision for James Island as a whole, with the Gathering Place being one component.

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