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City Council. April 26

Resolution to complete I-526 passes
City parking regulations up for review
Marc Knapp

A resolution supporting the completion of I-526 was on last night’s agenda. The reaction was predictable. The die-hards were there to speak against it in Citizens Participation, though not in the numbers of the past, Coastal Conservation League supporters bombarded Council members with identical e-mails in protest, and the resolution was approved by Council with only Council members Seekings and Gregorie opposed.

The resolution (Press Download file to view) before Council followed a resolution approved by County Council two weeks ago. Although the language was different in the two, the purpose was similar – to keep the completion of I-526 alive and to seek funding beyond that provided by the State Infrastructure Bank.

We thought Mayor Tecklenberg did a good job in shepherding the resolution through the process though there was little chance it was going to be rejected. He refuted the claim that the completion was unnecessary. It would alleviate traffic congestion in West Ashley, it would lead to better evacuation in the event of a hurricane, it would not accelerate the development of Johns Island. Development was controlled by Zoning and not the new highway. He did concede that the terminus of the planned I-526 extension at Calhoun Street could be a congestion problem. He did not have a solution but he expected that a solution could be found.

Some speakers, as well as opposing the I-526 completion, objected to the possibility of a toll being imposed. The resolution noted the introduction of a toll as a possibility. The Mayor suggested an amendment, supported by Council, that a toll would be administered by the State or County.

We liked the Mayor’s comments on mass transit. Forget about light rail, he said. It was too expensive and impractical. What would fly is a rapid bus service, and I-526 in its completed form would be the spine of the service. Its key was connectivity, to all of the towns and municipalities in the Tri- County. He did not spell out more detail, probably because he didn’t have any. But the idea is appealing and it will probably involve the creation of an HOV lane on I-526 to facilitate travel.

Most Council members rose to speak to the issue. Conspicuous amongst those that didn’t were Seekings and Gregorie. They voted against the resolution but were totally silent as to why.
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God works in mysterious ways, as noted by some Council members. Many members of the congregation of the Francis Brown AAME church spoke in Citizens Participation about the harsh parking rules of the City. Members received parking tickets from the City while attending services at their church. Surely worshippers could park their cars on the streets for the period of the service, or for funerals and other important events. Members of the congregation had been parking in the area for years. But is seems the City is not allowing any latitude in the administration of parking regulations. It was ungodly of the City. (our term)

Council member Seekings who heads the Traffic and Transportation Committee made the revelation that the issue of City parking came up at the last meeting of the Committee. It was agreed then that it would be subject to a major review.

There was no commitment made by Council member Seekings or others but it was clear that the pleas of the parishioners made a mark. We expect latitude will be given to church goers in some way when the parking ordinance is revised.
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It is likely that the Gathering Place (GP) zoning will be scrapped. As Chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, Council member Seekings made such a forecast. The Committee had discussed the concept and found it wanting and has sent the issue back to the Committee for Community Development for further review.

In the light of Council member Seekings’ comment, it was not surprising that an extension of the moratorium on new construction under the GP zoning to Jun 22 was on the agenda. It was approved unanimously.

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