Thursday, July 24, 2014
The subject of manageable growth was front and center at Wednesday's Town of Mount Pleasant Planning Commission meeting. Major decisions were made regarding recommendations for a lowered height allowance for buildings along the Coleman-Ben Sawyer Boulevard section of the Urban Corridor Overlay District as well as the proposed Belle Point Development across from Belle Hall Shopping Center on Long Point Road. Throughout the evening, concerned citizens continued to speak out on these two controversial issues; residents' sentiments were best summed up by one man who stated, “People didn't move to Mount Pleasant to see 75-foot buildings and McDonalds.”
First on the docket was the discussion of maximum height allowances along Coleman and Ben Sawyer boulevards. According to the town's current plan, buildings are allowed a maximum height of 55 feet along this area with the exception of specific locations such as Moultrie Plaza and Sea Island Shopping Center, which can go as high as 75 feet.
After a series of failed motions, the planning commission settled unanimously on a recommendation for the reduction of height allowances provided in this area. Under the commission's new recommendation, areas with a height allowance of 75 feet would be limited to 60 feet with a five-floor maximum per building, and areas with a 55-foot allowance would be limited to 50 feet with a maximum of four floors. Special consideration would be given to the Shem Creek area of Coleman Boulevard between Simmons and Lansing.
This decision will hopefully work as a compromise between the heights designated in the town's plan and residents who deemed the current height allowances “out of character” and stated that “The town has erred on the side of too big.” The new height recommendations will be submitted to the Planning and Development Committee of Council and Town Council.
The other major concern of the evening, and the topic that drew the most ire amongst residents, was the proposed multi-use Belle Point Development adjacent to Belle Hall Shopping Center. This discussion was mainly one-sided as residents and council agreed overwhelmingly that the proposed plan for the area was dead out of the gate. Amongst the myriad concerns over the plan were the additional traffic to an already congested area, severe lack of interconnectivity with the surrounding area and general unwillingness to pack so much into an area that simply can't support it.
According to the plan submitted, the development would include a 196-unit apartment complex, three fast food restaurants, a gas station and a grocery store. After hearing the concerns of a line of residents that stretched around the room, the planning commission cast a unanimous vote to disapprove the impact assessment and conceptual plan submitted for the project, sending developers back to the drawing board.
“This really isn't ready for our consideration,” said planning commission member, Cheryll Woods-Flowers.
While the actual plan for the project was a non-starter, the commission did approve the zoning and rezoning of the area in question, which would designate the former site of a concrete plant and trucking operations as Planned Development, Mixed-Use, Suburban-Urban (PD-MU-SU). “We are willing to work with staff and the Town of Mount Pleasant for circumstances to remedy the traffic concerns,” said Belle Point Development applicant, Randy Cooper.
The planning commission's recommendations will be forwarded to the Annexation and Planning and Development Committees of Council and Town Council.
Dustin Waters is one of our staff reporters and the staff copy editor. Follow Dustin on Twitter @MNreports for more news updates.