The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
City Planning and Zoning
August 22, 2012
City Council, August 21
Accommodation Overlay extension a dangerous precedent
An incident at Burke High SchoolMarc Knapp
Last night’s meeting was long on presentations and recognitions, and short on items of substance. One of the recognitions was of Ms. Karen Brack, the new Fire Chief. With the lauding by Council members, she was sworn into office. And although there were few other items of importance in our view, one in particular got our attention.
February 08, 2010
Shrimp 'n Grits
Drive-by Zoning – It ought to be a crime!Lee Walton
The Riley Administration’s haste to rezone the long vacant L. Mendel Rivers Building on Meeting Street and include it within the Accommodations Overlay District is a direct affront to all of the Peninsula neighborhoods that have been promised a voice in the development of a comprehensive plan for the Calhoun/East Bay/Concord Planning Area. This latest rezoning to accommodate conversion of the old Federal Building into another massive hotel on Marion Square exemplifies the arrogance and total disregard for the residences of the neighboring boroughs by Riley and his emasculated planning staff as they press headlong with one massive, uncoordinated project after another. As with other drive-by crimes, these seemingly spontaneous, random, ill-planned and uncoordinated acts invariably result in egregious damage to the quality of life in surrounding residential neighborhoods and often lead to irreversible, unintended consequences that adversely impact residential livability and quietude throughout the Peninsula.
January 27, 2010
City Council. January 26
Cal/Cooper Plan approved with no debate
No zoning change to be placed before Council until Task Force can reviewMarc Knapp
There was limited satisfaction for those seeking a deferral on the hearing on the Calhoun Street/ Cooper River Waterfront (Cal/Coop) Plan. In one sense, it was very clear cut loss- the Council voted unanimously for the Plan despite the request for a deferral by the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Preservation Society and others. They argued that the plan should not be implemented until the Task Force, agreed to by the Mayor, was in place and an outline of other plans for the Eastern edge of the peninsula had been defined.
January 07, 2010
Historic Charleston Foundation
An encouraging outcome of the “Delicate Balance” forum
A task force to be formed to observe and coordinate plansWarwick Jones
We had low expectations for the forum held last night and sponsored by the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF). The aim was noble - to generate discussion and a plan to preserve the historic ambience of the City and its quality of life in the face of major developments proposed on the eastern side of the Peninsula. We expected a series of soothing platitudes and high minded objectives from the speakers that would ultimately have little impact on restraining the City in allowing developments that many of us find threatening.
October 22, 2009
Planning Commission, October 21
Commission votes for Cal/Cooper Plan
Chairman shines, but quality of discussion and debate of others was embarrassingWarwick Jones
We were disappointed with the Planning Commission’s decision last night to approve the City’s proposed Calhoun Street East/ Cooper River Waterfront Plan. But we were particularly disturbed by the absence of meaningful comment or discussion by Commissioners on the Plan or the issues raised by members of the public, neighborhood associations, the Preservation Society, The Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) and the Coastal Conservation League (CCL).
August 18, 2009
Planning Commission, August 17
Staff told to tweak CSE/CRW Plan
Make compromises to incorporate views expressed at special meeting
There was a strong response at yesterday’s special meeting of the City of Charleston’s Planning Committee. The special meeting was called to allow citizens to express their feeling about the City’s Calhoun Street-East/ Cooper River Waterfront Plan (CSE/CRW). The Plan was completed some months ago and was presented to the Planning Commission in June. Because of the far-reaching consequences, and the limited opportunity for the public to have commented on the plan, the Commission deferred a decision on incorporating it into the City‘s ordinances at its two previous meetings. It deferred a decision again at yesterday’s meeting.
August 11, 2009
Planning Commission to consider Calhoun St East/ Cooper River Waterfront Plan
We urge viewers to attend meeting and oppose the Plan
A special meeting of the City’s Planning Commission is to be held on Monday, August 17. The sole item on the agenda is the incorporation o f the Calhoun Street -East/Cooper River Waterfront (CSE/CRW) Plan into the Century V Plan. This will make the CSE/CRW Plan part of the City ordinance.
July 22, 2009
City Council, July 21
Sanitation workers pursue a lost cause
Zoning, Carriage Horse ordinance, and more grant applications
It was the largest display of a lost cause we have seen on City Council. About 20 members of the public, mostly City workers employed in the sanitation department, spoke during Citizens Participation in support of organizing a union for the workers. They aired their grievances and concerns, and compared their efforts to those of the City hospital workers who struck about 40 years ago.
July 15, 2009
Planning Commission - Contentious issue deferred
Public workshop to be heldWarwick Jones
The issue on today's agenda of the City Planning Commission of incorporating the Calhoun Street E/ Cooper River Waterfront District Plan into the Century V Plan has been deferred. The City is planning on holding a public workshop on the issue but at this stage, has not set a date.
We applaud the deferral and the decision to hold a public workshop. One wonders why the latter wasn't proposed earlier and before the issue went to the PC. We know a large number of citizens were opposed to the plan and voiced their criticism. It seems their cries were heard.
July 11, 2009
City assaults an historic district
No public input sought for final plan
It is presently part of Charleston’s Historic District. As a consequence, all new buildings are subject to Board of Architectural Review (BAR) scrutiny. But if the City has its way, the special area that it calls Calhoun Street – East /Cooper River Waterfront (CSE/CRW) will become “Anywhere USA”. Few if any historic buildings will be preserved and they will be replaced by larger and taller structures. The area will cease to have historic architectural significance. It will become an intense retail, commercial, and institutional development. Its architecture and ambience will clash with those of historic Ansonborough and Wraggborough which abut the area.
February 29, 2008
County Council, February 28
Widening of Maybank Highway – Is a compromise possible?
Parking fees to rise in County’s downtown garagesWarwick Jones
One wonders how it happened. Here was the City squaring off against the County in regards to changes along Maybank Highway. Change had been planned for some years and indeed voters in a referendum had signaled their approval of the County’s plans. But the changes planned were within the City of Charleston. Its views were very different. Why wasn’t there cooperation between the County and the City in shaping the proposed change?
January 16, 2008
City's Preservation Plan
Final document available in two weeks
Implementation to begin immediatelyWarwick Jones The final of the Preservation Plan for the City of Charleston has been completed. City staff and the consultants spoke broadly about the Plan and the steps to implement it at a public meeting last night. A draft is still on the City web site, the final should be available within two weeks, the consultants told the audience.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:09 PM
November 29, 2007
Preservation Plan for the City
Draft plan is heavy reading
A Charlestowne Neighbourhood Association member is criticalWarwick Jones
The draft of the Preservation Plan proposed by the consultants to the City was placed on the City website about a month ago. The groups, formed by the City, to consider the proposed plan, also reviewed the draft. Public forums were held at the beginning of this month. Regrettably, caught up in the election campaign and other things, we missed the forums.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:19 AM
August 13, 2007
Long Savannah developer defers request to move UGB
Insufficient informationWarwick Jones
The request by the Long Savannah developer to move the Urban Growth Bounday was deferred at today's meeting of the County Planning Commission, The deferral was sought by the developer who claimed to have insufficent information. It indicated to the Planning Commission that a charrette was planned at the end of September to gather public comment. It expected to return to the Planning Commission sometime thereafter.
Commission Chairman Murray stated that he would ask staff to peruse the information that the Long Savannah developer wished to present at a future Planning Commission meeting. He wanted to ensure that it was sufficient for the Commission to make an decision. He did not want the Commissioners' or public's time wasted with yet another deferral.
May 12, 2007
Concern for the future of Charleston’s historic district
A warning by a preservationist
Charleston got another warning about degradation of the historic district. This time it was from Jonathan Poston, Director of the Graduate Center in Historic Preservation of Clemson University. In his address The renewed challenge to Charleston , Mr. Poston despaired as to what was happening and called for action by the community. He was addressing members of the Preservation Society at its 2007 Annual Lecture series on Thursday last. Before joining Clemson faculty, Mr. Poston was a director of the Historic Charleston Foundation. He is also an author and perhaps the most prominent preservationist authority on Charleston.
April 18, 2007
City’s vision for urban Johns Island
To embrace “new urbanism”Warwick Jones
There didn’t seem to be any unhappy residents in the audience. After all, the City’s plans for development of the urban side of Johns Island had been shaped after a series of public meetings; at least that is what the City staff said. From our discussions with a citizen member of the Growth Management Committee that worked with the City, the plan did truly reflect opinions voiced by the public. And to this writer, it was a pleasant surprise to see that these opinions and the broad proposals of the City matched the “new urbanism” concepts preached by many planners including the renowned Andres Duany. Mr. Duany spoke at a planning conference organized by Governor Sanford in Charleston last month. Our report on the conference was posted on March 27.
April 02, 2007
Shrimp 'n Grits
The Urban Growth Boundary – a line in the sand or political smoke and mirrors?
Since late 2005, Long Savannah Plantation, the largest in a recent gaggle of proposed planned unit developments (PUD’s) in the area bounded by the Ashley and Stono Rivers, has promised to be the first serious challenge to the integrity of Charleston County’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). This 3,050-acre, 4,800 home Mega-PUD, when first unveiled, was to be one of the largest ever proposed in the Lowcountry, second only to Kiawah Island in Charleston County and approximately the same size as Berkeley County’s Daniel Island. However, a vexing problem confronting its developers is that only 230 acres, or less than 8% of its total area, is located within the County’s higher density urban side of the UGB; most of the remainder has rural agricultural zoning which limits development densities to as low as only one dwelling for every ten acres.
March 27, 2007
South Carolina Land Use Conference, March 26
Speakers point to solutions to accelerating sprawl
But can they be implemented?
Governor Sanford called the conference. But probably as the Governor expected, Andres Duany, the well known architect and planner, dominated it. He and other speakers expressed their concern as to what was happening to South Carolina and other eastern states as they reeled under high population growth. The strong growth seemed certain to continue and unless some action were taken, the quality of life of those in the coastal areas in particular was threatened.
March 21, 2007
We need a moratorium on new development in the Historic District
Harleston Village community tries to fight back
Residents of the historic district have been shouting, threatening, pleading and “lawyering” for some years now. Both the Preservation Society and the Historic Charleston Foundation have warned of the destruction of the historic districts by major development projects approved by the City. The Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association even appealed to the National Trust by asking that Charleston be placed on the list of the “Eleven Most Threatened Historic Sites” in the nation. But notwithstanding, development continues.
March 20, 2007
Governor convenes a land use conference in Charlestom
Public is invited to meeting on Monday
Governor Sanford is convening a conference on land use planning and development in Charleston on Monday, March 26th. We have ssen little publicity of the event and are posting notice as we suspect that lots of residents who will be interested in attending, The all-day event will be at the Dockside Theatre. Attendees are asked to RSVP by today, either by fax or e mail. The e mail address is given below.
February 21, 2007
Board of Zoning Appeals – February 20
Scrambles to find a quorum
HCF appeals decision on hotel tower at 404 King StWarwick Jones
According to Chairman Krawcheck, it hadn’t happened for at least a decade. The Board of Zoning Appeals had always been able to muster a quorum. But yesterday was an exception. Only three members turned up for the regularly scheduled meeting. The Chairman apologized to the public many of which turned up to speak, and asked them to be patient while staff summoned other members of the Board. They succeeded in drawing another member, allowing the meeting to proceed with a four member quorum after a 50 minute delay. But it was not enough for all of the issues before the Board. The Chairman said he had to recuse himself from some items, presumably because of a conflict of interests, leaving only three board members and insufficient for a quorum.
February 01, 2007
Public meeting on City’s Preservation Plan
Will it be different this time round?
Will it make any difference, a neighborhood association president asked? She had just listened to a collation of comments and recommendations from the participants in a Public Hearing on the City’s Preservation Plan. Neighborhood Presidents have been saying these things for years and nothing has happened, she said. They have been ignored.
January 18, 2007
Planning Commission, January 17
First changes in City planning and zoning ordinances approved
BAR to have alternate directorsWarwick Jones
Last night's Planning Commission meeting stretched to 3 hours. Meetings are often longer, and sometimes tedious. It is no wonder that attention of members of the Commission and the public wanders as time progresses, and items at the end of the agenda are threatened with â€œshort shriftâ€? as Commission members tire.
December 14, 2006
Planning Commission, December 13, 2006
Planning and Zoning Ordinances under review
Preliminary thoughts by new head of City departmentWarwick Jones
A few months ago, the City hired Josh Martin to head its planning and preservation efforts. His role was recently expanded to encompass economic development. Mr. Martin clearly has an important role in shaping the City's course, in both a figurative and literal sense. Last night, he addressed the Planning Commission (PC), posing many questions as to what the City was doing and should be doing. He had only a few answers. We liked both his questions and answers.
November 09, 2006
"The City of Charleston
Is it really serious about preservation?"Warwick Jones
We have no copies left of our booklet The City of Charleston, Is it really serious about preservation? The booklet was distributed to those attending the Historic Charleston Foundation forum on Monday last.
As mentioned in the article we posted on the forum, the publication can be downloaded in PDF form from this site. press here
November 07, 2006
We hope it really will herald changeWarwick Jones
Last night, the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) held a forum on preservation in Charleston. It was designed to herald the intention of the City to look again at its preservation ordinances and to introduce the consultants retained to advise it. And if the consultant does what it says it plans to do, and the City listens, those of us who despair about the preservation of historic Charleston will cheer.
November 01, 2006
Preservation and the City's Plan
Historic Charleston Foundation to host public forum this MondayWarwick Jones
The Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) publicly expressed concern late last year about the major construction projects planned for the City and the impact on the Historic Districts. It was a concern felt by the Preservation Society and many citizens. The HCF stated at that time that it proposed to hold a public forum on the issue. It has been a long time coming and we feared it would not be conducted. But it will be - at the Charleston Museum on Monday, November 6, beginning 7pm.
October 22, 2006
Planning Commission taken to task
Disturbing implications of planning process
1029 Stono River Drive
How much weight does citizen concern for public safety, health and quality of life carry with City bureaus? Does development trump all? Should a family member's reputation and standing in the community warrant special consideration when it comes to planning and zoning decisions? Does being politically well-connected grant carte blanche?
September 09, 2006
Planning and re-zoning - some musings
Trying to do what is rightWarwick Jones
We don't attempt to cover City and County Planning in any detail. There is not enough time available. But sometimes we find ourselves at a hearing, because of the importance, such as the proposed Long Savannah Plantation subdivision, or because there is a matter which affects our own local community. Usually in the case of the latter, the issue is only one of many before the commission or board. So there is plenty of time to listen and reflect. And sometimes the issues are provocative.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:04 PM
August 14, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Private Sewer Service - Environmental Blackmail or Hollow Threat?Lee Walton
True to the old clichÃ© that even a blind hog finds an acorn once in awhile, a brief spark of journalistic enlightenment appeared in a recent Palter and Chatter editorial entitled Utility's growth management role; the author acknowledged that "Coordination among public jurisdictions and the utility (Charleston Water System) will help limit the public infrastructure costs and traffic congestion that accompany urban sprawl." With no small amount of irony, this editor shared the sentiments of the recently terminated CWS Executive Director, "… John Cook tells us that the utility has limited sewage treatment capacity, and has to carefully decide how it will be used. Philosophically, we're trying to match up our service with the urban growth boundary," he said." That one statement could very well have been the proverbial last straw for Mayor J. Pericles Riley and his long-standing annexation policy. City sewer service has always been the "carrot" Pericles dangled above deal-estate developers as the ultimate enticement for annexation.
July 28, 2006
Johns Island - Strong opposition to extending sewage facilities
Compromise seems likelyWarwick Jones
Johns Island residents today strongly expressed their ire at the proposal for Charleston Water System (CWS) to provide sewage disposal to areas outside the Urban Growth Boundary. The meeting was called by the Council of Governments (COGS) after a request from St Johns Water Company (SJWC) and CWS. Under the proposal, CWS would provide sewage facilities for up to 1250 residences on Johns Island and outside the County-defined Urban Growth Boundary. The utilities also proposed that sewage disposal should be made available to all residents on the island that were within the Urban Growth Boundary without the necessity of first annexing into the City of Charleston.
July 24, 2006
A growing frustration with City policy
The Mayor - an undeserving recipient of accolades
It is the neighborhoods with their abundant and historic well-preserved buildings that give Charleston its charm. Mayor Riley describes the City of Charleston as "world class". We too think it is. But publicly we have expressed the view that its stature is despite the Mayor's administration and not because of. We think that City policy is causing Charleston to lose its luster. Ordinances ostensibly designed to protect the historic areas are not being enforced and some have been recently amended to serve development.
July 19, 2006
City Council July 18
City attempts to "tidy up" zoning and height restrictions
Mayor seeks to toughen penalties for violent crimeMarc Knapp
With 57 public hearings scheduled, the agenda for last night's City Council looked formidable. It was formidable, but not as much as it appeared. Many of the hearings related to annexations and the proposed ordinances were adopted without discussion. However, those relating to changes in the Neck area and West of the Ashley were important and generated much discussion.
July 03, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
I-526 & the Urban Growth Boundary - A Winning and Necessary CombinationLee Walton
For those who reside West Ashley and on the Sea Islands and Resort Islands southwest of the Charleston Peninsula, the recently announced State Infrastructure Bank funding of the last segment of I-526 promises long delayed relief from intolerable traffic congestion. However, to those who reside on Johns Island and beyond Bees Ferry Road, the perceived benefits are less certain and dependant upon the cooperative efforts and courage of County Council and the City of Charleston to resist ever increasing deal-estate development pressures. These two elected Councils and J. Pericles Riley control the two most important land planning tools available to maximize the regional quality-of-life benefits possible from the completion of I-526 --- Low-density Rural Zoning and the Urban Growth Boundary.
June 19, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Urban Redevelopment - A Blueprint for GentrificationLee Walton
The proposed urban redevelopment of the Upper Peninsula and Charleston Neck, spearheaded by J. Pericles Riley and his notorious "Real-Estate Development Complex", now threatens Charleston's most vulnerable inner-city poor and low-income minorities. The implications of this top-down, profit-motivated redevelopment are severe! The disruption of established political, cultural and social infrastructure, increasing property taxes and loss of affordable housing are all now further exacerbated by low service sector wages that have not kept pace with the increased costs of childcare, housing, transportation and basic necessities of a working family. Who are Pericles and his lap-dog council elected to serve, his wealthy deal-estate developers or the hard working citizens of Charleston?
June 11, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
The Charleston Neck Gentrification's Last Frontier!
Demands of Coastal Conservation League will do little for conservationLee Walton
Several, seemingly unconnected events have recently combined to open up the "Last Frontier" for gentrification in the Upper Peninsula and Neck. In a Palter & Chatter article on June 6th, Dana Beach, Coastal Conservation League's Executive Director, expressed atypical demands for the relocation of I-26 saying "County Council should spend its half-cent sales tax dollars on improvements to the Interstate 26 corridor, or neighborhoods in the upper peninsula will continue to suffer." A closer scrutiny of several ambitious redevelopment plans being implemented in these areas will have the opposite effect by creating a "wild west stampede" for opportunistic developers.
May 03, 2006
Board of Zoning Appeals, May 2
Attempt to convert use from church to theater fails
How independent is the Board?Patricia Jones
It was a near run thing. The Board's vote was split 3-3 which of course meant that the motion to change the use failed. So the Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church in Wraggborough will remain as a place of worship. And the community, which was solidly and vigorously opposed to the usage change, is praising the Lord.
April 17, 2006
Shrimp 'n Grits
Great Urban parks - Unbounded VisionsLee Walton
In a recent Commentary by Governor Sanford published in the Palter & Chatter on Sunday, April 2nd, he challenged each of us to share his "once in a lifetime" vision to create a world-class park of tomorrow on the southern tip of Daniel Island - a park to challenge "…the great parks in the great cities of the world." Governor Sanford then offers two constants shared by each of the world's great venues: They enhance value of the surrounding community, and quality-of-life is geometrically enhanced by the open space in urban environments. Respectfully, there are two additional constants of equal importance - great parks of the world and many smaller, but as equally cherished, parks in our own region and city are unbounded by physical barriers or time. Their physical boundaries are those of the public realm - streets, boulevards, waterfronts and other public spaces. Their timelessness is their ability to remain useful, desirable and meaningful to successive generations of urban dwellers and occasional visitors alike.
February 24, 2006
Board of Zoning Appeals February 21
Board defers decision on church conversion
Little encouragement for opponentsWarwick Jones
Those of us at the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting on Tuesday evening and opposed to the church conversion had little to be pleased about. Before the BZA was the issue as to whether to allow the conversion of a church in Wraggborough to a 400-seat theater - the imposition of a commercial use in the heart of a residential neighborhood. It was not the decision in itself that was displeasing - a decision was deferred until the next meeting - it was the seeming indifference of some members to citizens' concerns, and the attitude or lack of understanding of some other members of the Board.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:17 AM
February 06, 2006
Don't convert church to theater
44 Charlotte St., Apt B
It is a sad day for our City that a developer and "the powers that be" can negotiate behind closed doors for over a year (without the knowledge of residents) to change a church use from special to commercial.
February 05, 2006
Historic Charleston is threatened!
Neighborhood Association asks to National Trust to place city on endangered site listWarwick Jones
Shocked by the number of major development projects, spurred by the ugly and inappropriate Clemson Architecture School and encouraged be so many in the community, the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association is rolling up its sleeves. It has applied to the National Trust to have the City placed on the list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America.
January 19, 2006
Conversion of Church to theater rattles neighborhood
Portent of the futureWarwick Jones, Editor
It will not be the first time in Charleston that a church is converted to another use. But to our knowledge, that of the New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist on Charlotte Street in Wraggborough will be the first to a theater. And folk in the neighborhood are concerned.
January 08, 2006
Preservation Society sounds the alarm
Is Charleston facing an erosion of preservation standards?
The Preservation Society joins the Historic Charleston Foundation in questioning the City's commitment to preservation. In its current edition of Preservation Progress, it asks, " Are we facing an erosion of our preservation standards"? The lead article notes some of the projects that have been approved by the City and some that are in the process of approval. Clearly the Society is concerned about these projects and the impact they will have on the historical integrity of the City. It now joins the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF), which also has expressed concerns, and plans to hold a public forum early this year to discuss the issue.
January 05, 2006
Coastal Conservation League critical of Mark Clark extension
Seeks support to ask Infrastructure Bank to reject financing requestShould the Mark Clark expressway be extended? Folk on Johns Island and elsewhere fear even more development it it were extended while the proponents of the extension look to an easing of traffic congestion on parts of both Johns and James Island. We suspect that both views may be correct. The issue is very important for the community and we publish below a release by the Coastal Conservation League, an entity for which we have a high respect, seeking to halt the development.
December 10, 2005
Preservation Society gets aggressive
Call for members to oppose new hotel on King StreetWarwick Jones, Editor
It is tempting to think that it was the hostility to the proposed Clemson School of Architecture that stirred its spirit. But we believe that the Preservation Society of Charleston has been concerned for some time about the accelerating degradation of the historic district of the City. What we are now seeing may be an energized Society in the face of a major threat, not just from the proposed School of Architecture, or from the proposed hotel it is now opposing, but from a slew of developments that seem to have the blessing of the City.
November 17, 2005
Clemson School of Architecture
The public speaks loud and clear
What is the City doing?Warwick Jones
The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) may have done Charleston a favor. Of course it didn't mean to. There was no doubt as to its collective view about the proposed Clemson Architectural School. It was in favor. But its indifference to the views of the public, expressed at the BAR meeting, in the press and elsewhere, and the revelations of the City's actions to secure approval for the proposed building, have stimulated public outrage to a level unprecedented in recent times. No it is not just the offending Clemson building, it is the whole "process". There are ordinances that have been defined to preserve the historic fabric of the City. Why are they not being enforced? Why are they being undermined? There are bodies whose purpose is to encourage preservation and challenge the forces that threaten the historic integrity of the City. Where are they? The Clemson issue may pass, but the broader issue most likely will remain and with it a challenge to the City to mend its ways.
October 20, 2005
Completion of I 526 will not create "urban sprawl"
But changes to existing zoning regulations willG. Robert George, P.L.S., P.E. Councilmember District-12 City of Charleston
Strict enforcement of Zoning - The Best "Urban Sprawl" Defense
Zoning, like police and fire protection, is a basic function of local government. It is the primary tool cities and counties use to implement land use planning objectives. Zoning decisions by local elected officials become the "blue print" for land development and dictate, to a great degree, the magnitude and sources of property taxes and other revenue generated by local municipalities, county government and public schools.
August 21, 2005
Planning Commission Meeting August 17
Approval of first step in major development on King and Calhoun Streets
Board member Waring's attitude alarms usWarwick Jones, Editor
The agenda was long for last Wednesday's meeting, swollen by all those annexations on James Island. Fortunately the most important item was close to the top - the rezoning of the lots at the corner of Calhoun and King Streets where the Millennium music store is presently located. There were two applications before the board relating to adjoining lots but they will be combined ultimately into one for a large development comprising retail, commercial and residential space.
August 16, 2005
Growth management - time for a fundamental change
G. Robert George, P.L.S.,P.E.
Councilmember, District - 12
The City of Charleston
915 Paul Revere Court
Recently, throughout the Tri-county area, there has been a flurry of interest in the aggregate number of new subdivisions and housing units that are currently in the planning and approval "pipeline". An accounting of City of Charleston and Charleston County projects west of the Ashley River went well beyond 10,000 planned units. Several more highly visible, controversial projects, including Poplar Grove, Watson Hill and The Ponds, will likely contribute as many units in Lower Dorchester County alone.
March 02, 2005
BZA Meeting - March 2
Grants exception to Adult Video Store Denies our appeal on 418 Meeting Street varianceWarwick Jones, Editor
Success at lastThe Board was entertained last night as it pondered a decision on a variance to allow re-siting of an adult video store. Mr. Tommy Goldstein, the attorney for the owner of the much discussed and criticized Videos and Beyond Store in West Ashley gave a spirited, amusing and ultimately successful performance, Mind, he has had a lot of practice. He has been involved in litigation over the store for some years now. He has even made representations before the State Supreme Court. Until last night, there had not been much progress. But the frustration of the years has clearly sharpened his sense of humor.
January 21, 2005
BZA Meeting - January 17
We think the Board has erredWarwick Jones, Editor
At its meeting on Tuesday night, the Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved exceptions to the Zoning Ordinance's parking requirements as requested by the developer of 418 Meeting Street, the principal of which is Council member Fishburne. It deferred a decision at its previous meeting because of uncertainties about the duration of the lease for use of a City parking garage built with tax-exempt bond funds. The major issue was whether the lease could be construed as long-term in order to meet the parking requirement of the Zoning Ordinance.
January 12, 2005
Long-term or short-term parking leases- An issue for the BZA?
Warwick Jones, Editor
It seems to us that the issue is unresolved as to whether the lease between the City and the developer of 418 Meeting Street for parking in the Visitors Center Garage is long-term or short-term. We sought clarification at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night but it was not forthcoming. In some respects, the issue by itself may seem unimportant. But the City ordinance requires that a new development like that at 418 Meeting Street provide parking. If all of it cannot be on site, then the balance must be within 400 feet of the development and under a lease agreement for 10 years or more. If the developer cannot meet the requirement of the ordinance, then exceptions must be obtained from the Board of Zoning Appeals. It is of interest that Councilmember Fishburne is the principal of the development company.
January 05, 2005
Board of Zoning Appeals January 4
Is there a 10 year lease or not?
Can the City please explain?Warwick Jones, Editor
An issue before the Boiard of Zoning Appeals lst night was a 4 story devepment at 418 Meeting Street. It entails near 40,000 sq ft and would be largely office space The developer is seeking some varfiaicnes and exceptions. One of the exceptions relates to parking The ordinance states that if the developer can't provide all on-site parking then the balance must be provided at a location within 400 feet and under a long term lease of at least 10 years. This development is required to provide 47 parling spaces but there is only room for 18 on site, the develooper must provide for another 29 spaces off site within the 400 feet restriction.
November 19, 2004
City Planning Commission November 18
Chairman blasts City over application for rezoningPatricia Jones, who covers Planning
For those who live off the Peninsula, the redevelopment of the Chapter 2 bookstore and adjacent site is probably inconsequential. But it is not for most of us that live on the Peninsula. The proposed re-development on the corner of Meeting and Hasell streets is seen as an example of what should not be allowed to happen downtown. It seems that the Planning Commission agreed. Not only did the Commission vote against a rezoning that would have led to higher density condominium development, but the Chairman, Mr. Francis X. McCann was strongly critical of the City for allowing the proposed development to get as far as it had. He said that the project in its present form was a "sin". The changes that were being sought were for purely economic reasons and would do nothing to benefit the City in the longer term.
November 17, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting - November 16
An unusual meetingWarwick Jones, standing in for Patrica Jones
It was an unusual meeting. The main issues before the Board were two requests for reconsideration, one relating to the McLeod Plantation, the other to a property on Tradd Street. Both involved finer points of the law and involved no arguments in defense of previous positions.
Board disallows appeal over McLeod Plantation decision
The McLeod Plantation was probably the most important of the matters before the board. At its last meeting, the board was presented with a list of reasons why it should reconsider its earlier decision. Mr. Ben Peeples speaking on behalf of Friends of McLeod then stated the board had erred in its decision and had not made proper consideration of parking, traffic, visitors, archaeology and other factors. He also said that the Board has erred in procedure. The board rejected Mr. Peeples' arguments except the latter. It deferred a decision on the procedural issue while it waited on legal opinion from the City.
November 02, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - November 1
Appeal on McLeod Plantation decision still undecidedPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
The appeal by the Friends of McLeod against the decision of the Zoning Board to approve exceptions to the School Overlay in relation to the proposed School of Building Arts (SOBA) at McLeod Plantation was not resolved at the meeting last night. There were a number of issues that were raised by the attorney for the Friends of McLeod but the Chairman of the Board dismissed many of these as being outside the realm of the board. However, the issues of parking and voting procedure were legitimate, he said. After some discussion the board agreed that it had considered all of the factors affecting parking and on that basis alone, it would reject the appeal. However, the Chairman confessed to some discomfit on the way the decision was voted at the first meeting. He consequently sought legal opinion from the City Attorney and as of the meeting last night, had not been received. For this reason, the final decision was deferred.
September 22, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - September 21
Board has it both ways on McLeod PlantationPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
A tied vote of 3-3 brought to defeat the requested special exception sought by the School of Building Arts(SOBA). But with board member Smith unhappy with the outcome, a motion was made to approve the requested exception but with some restrictions. The motion passed in a 5 to 1 vote.
September 08, 2004
The Historic Charleston Foundation - Watchdog or tail-waggin' Spaniel?
Warwick Jones, Editor
The Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) can take pride in the large role it has played in preserving many of the City's historic houses. Over the years it has acquired houses, imposed covenants, and resold the properties to buyers prepared to maintain their historical integrity. It has also played the role of watchdog in BAR, Planning Commission and Zoning Board hearings, often opposing developments that were out of character with the surrounds. As well as these things, it holds house and garden tours that do much to advertise the charm and attraction of our city. So having paid these compliments, there were many of us wondering why the HCF plans to sell the McLeod Plantation property to the American School of Building Arts (SOBA), and why it was so supportive of the City's plan to raise the height restriction in the Ansonborough Field area? Prima facie, we would assume that HCF would have opposed both these moves.
Zoning Board Meeting September 7
Variance applications for McLeod deferredPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
The Board last night declined to hear the application for a variance in relation to the Mc Leod plantation. It thought that it was premature for the City to be asking for variances before the actual School overlay plan had been approved by council. One of the Board members thought it might be worthwhile to discuss the issue to provide some guidance to the City but this was rejected by the other members.
August 18, 2004
City Council Meeting, August 17
New Building Height Restrictions pass first reading
McLeod Plantation second hearing deferredMarc Knapp who covers City Council
It was not a surprise. City Council passed the new building height restrictions for the Historic district. The restrictions were not contentious except for the Ansonborough Field area. Here the City wanted to increase the effective height to 70 ft as opposed to 55 ft, which broadly was the height restriction in other areas. The vote on Council was nearly identical to that taken over two years ago when the City first proposed the development of Ansonborough Field. Robert George and Kwadjo Campbell voted "against", and every body else "for". The exception was Wendell Gilliard who was absent last night.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:40 PM
July 22, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals-Zoning July 20.
Does the Zoning Board understand its responsibilities?Pat Jones who covers Planning
The Board of Zoning Appeals - Zoning just cannot bring itself to deny the variances and exceptions sought by the developer of the old Chapter II Book store. At the meeting two weeks ago, the board decided to give the developer "another chance" to meet some of the conditions. The Chairman stated that he thought that the Board should deny the request for variances and exceptions but he would go along with the suggestion of Mr. Altman and give the developer "another chance". So the representatives of the Historic Foundation, the Charleston Preservation Society and a host of people from Ansonborough, all of whom opposed and spoke against the variances and exceptions, trudged home exasperated, though still strong in their conviction.
July 21, 2004
City Council Meeting June 20 -
McLeod Plantation development and Neck Area project approved
A questionable rezoning, CARTA budget approved without commentMarc Knapp who covers City Council
McLeod Plantation to be developed
Well, maybe the Mc Leod Plantation will not be developed in the strict sense of the word, but many in the community feel that the acquisition by the American School of Building Arts will represent the equivalent. After a very long and emotional session, the Council approved the inclusion of the 31.5 acres that represents the major part of the Plantation in the School Overlay Zone classification. This clears the way for the School to purchase the Plantation from the Historic Foundation, and for the School to add those buildings that will be necessary to provide facilities for the 144 students that are expected to be enrolled.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:34 PM
July 13, 2004
Planning Commission Meeting, July 12
Is the Building Arts College good for McLeod Plantation?
Pat Jones who covers Planning
It is possibly the only intact plantation in all of America. Plantation house, slave houses, oak allee, magnificent vistas from the front piazza plus fields, where once, rice was cultivated. But, no, that wasn't enough to convince the Planning Commission that McLeod was worth preserving. Misty-eyed students and McLeod board members (of which there were so-o-o many) positively swooned whenever the proposed school was mentioned.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:40 PM
Planning Commission Meeting, July 12 (cont)
City gets its way with new height limitations
Ansonborough Field development near certain
Pat Jones who covers Planning
Well the city got its way. The Planning Commission voted to increase the allowable height for new construction in the Ansonborough Field area. The height limit will be 55 feet but if developers meet certain conditions, they will be allowed to add another story and buildings can rise to a maximum of 70 feet. However, the top story cannot exceed 50% of the footprint of the building with a maximum of 25% devoted to habitable space and the balance for mechanics etc.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:40 PM
July 07, 2004
Zoning Board Meeting, July 6
What does it take to stop the continual "Developer requests for Zoning Variances"?Warwick Jones, Editor
What does it take to stop all of these variance requests? The mega-building planned for the site of old Chapter II bookstore has drawn the ire of many city residents. Yesterday the developer went before the board seeking variances and exceptions to allow a structure containing 60,000 square feet without meeting the required parking and entry/exit driveway width under the current zoning requirements. For reference, the old bookstore has floor space of 6000 square feet.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 07:07 PM
June 17, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - June15.
Rejects cell tower constructionPat Jones
There were two items of interest at the June 15 Board of Zoning-Appeals meeting. The most alarming was the statement by one of the board members that it "was dangerous to consider what is five years out". If this comment is typical of the views of board members, we are in trouble! Fortunately it isn't, but such statements do not help the credibility of the board or induce confidence in its members.
The quoted comment was made in relation to an application for construction of a 100ft. cell tower on Line Street, between Meeting and King. The applicants have been working with the city for 36 months on this application. Their representative said that they were not trying to win a popularity contest for they recognized cell tower builders were not loved. The ordinance allow towers visible from a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places to receive a special exception. That "special exception" exists when there are "too many Historic sites" they said, making it impossible to place a tower and meet all the requirements. Obviously one would be able to see the tower from historic buildings to the south of Line Street.
June 11, 2004
Objections to proposed change in some city building heights
Warwick Jones, Editor
Some City residents are very concerned about the proposed changes to building heights in the eastern part of the Peninsula Area. The specific area encompasses East Bay Street to the Cooper River, an area that includes Ansonborough Fields. The proposed changes were outlined by the City's Design Development and Preservation Department in a presentation to the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association on June 9.
June 03, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - June 1,
A large new retail store for King Street probable
The board approved unanimously the demolition of the interior of the Garden Theatre on King Street. A number of the outlying buildings will be removed to create additional parking. The seating and some interior walls also will be removed to create 9345 sq feet of retail space on the first floor and 3000 sq feet on the second floor. No other details were released.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:32 PM
May 21, 2004
P&C supports Mayor again on Ansonborough Fields. Surprised?
The Post and Courier is at it again. It supported the city's plan to raise building height limitations on the area around Ansonborough Fields, even though it probably did not fully understand what was proposed. In the editorial on Friday, May 21, 2004, it strongly favored the changes proposed by the City to height and set back for sections of the historic district. Interestingly. the Planning Commission found that the increases proposed for the area around Ansonborough Fields were too complex and that further information and time were needed. The language used by the city in describing the changes was obfuscating and not enlightening; a view seemed to be shared with the Commission. I suppose this made no difference to the P&C opinion. As it is evident in relation to Ansonborough Fields, the sales tax increase, CARTA and everything else, there is never a difference between the editorial opinion of the P&C and that of the City Administration, and in this case even if the issue was not fully understood.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:17 PM
May 19, 2004
What really is the intent of the City with new height restrictions?
Why is the City fooling around with height and setback restrictions in the historic district. Could it be that the mayor is setting the stage for the development of Ansonborough Fields? We have tried to interpret the releases from the City Planning Department but their broader purpose defies us. Why is the height of a building on one side of Meeting Street allowed to be higher than on the other? And why are we lowering the height restriction is some areas and raising it in others?
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:17 PM