The parcel of land encompassed by West Coleman Boulevard and Broadway Street owned by Gramling Brothers Real Estate and Development was annexed into the town of Mount Pleasant with higher building height allowances at the Sept. 10 council meeting.
The property at the Peach Orchard Plaza has been discussed before the council previously this year as the developers currently own the property in Charleston County, meaning they are not paying Mount Pleasant property taxes. During the meeting, council amended an ordinance through final reading by changing the Coleman Boulevard Overlay District Guidelines Table to increase maximum heights for the property. The ordinance would allow for a building height of 45 feet along Coleman Boulevard sloped up to a maximum height of 55 feet toward the back of the property along Broadway Street.
The council did not come to a solution quickly or without disagreement. Councilmembers discussed the long history of the town’s work to lower building heights in the area to maintain the current aesthetics of the area.
Others, including Finance Committee chair Tom O’Rourke, explained that the town needs the revenue from this parcel being annexed from the county. He said that currently the town has $12 million of unfunded projects that are approved without any funding sources.
“I think where we are going to find money in the future will be a problem. I don’t think I’ll have any support in my thoughts to raise taxes. We don’t have a Boeing and we don’t have a Volvo, maybe 10 more feet is our Boeing,” O’Rourke said. “Finding ways to make sure that we can bring money into this town is going to have to be something that we all address at some point.”
Councilmember Jim Owens gave a presentation to the council explaining why he believes the building heights on Coleman should remain where they are, given past efforts.
“I think that they’re going to build something nice in that area but I don’t see there’s any need for raising the heights 10 feet from 45 feet. That was established years ago,” Owens said. “People campaigned on lowering the heights on Coleman, we did that. To revisit this, I think, is going to open Pandora’s Box and create a lot of unnecessary legal problems for our town. I would just hope that all of you would consider that.”
Councilmembers talked about other properties in the district that are stepped back from the property line and others that are not.
Councilmember Kathy Landing said that something that sets back before reaching the maximum height is a good compromise as opposed to another storage unit on the frontage.
“At Sea Island Shopping Center, at Moultrie Shopping Center and here, it’s all going to be the same; 45 feet stepped back to 55 feet, “ councilmember Joe Bustos said.”... There’s going to be a ratio there to keep it out of sight.”
Councilmember Gary Santos explained that he is mostly concerned what ends up in this parcel may make the traffic worse than what already exists.
Councilmember Kevin Cunnane expressed he felt it was problematic to go this high on such a small parcel and asked about the impacts it would have on the neighbors around the property. He also said that they should look at this as a part of the Comprehensive Plan, instead of taking just this single parcel into consideration.
“The totality has already been addressed on Coleman by lowering it, and I’m not comfortable with going back and raising one parcel under this hypothetical threat of it becoming a storage facility,” Cunnane said.
After a lengthy discussion about the building heights within the Coleman Overlay District the council passed the ordinance to adjust the building heights for the parcel to allow up to 55 feet. Cunnane, Santos and Owens voted in dissent making the final vote 6-3.
The 2-acre parcel of property was annexed into the town with the same councilmembers voting in dissent; Cunnane, Santos and Owens.
Next, council voted for a final reading of the property to get rezoned as Areawide Business-2 (AB-2) District. Jeff Ulma, the town’s Planning Director, explained to the council what permitted and conditional property uses this zoning would allow. Of those a self-storage facility was a conditional use within the AB-2 zoning.
The Gramling Brothers, known for mixed-use properties along Coleman Boulevard, have not confirmed what they will build on this parcel of land. Bustos said the town should have control of this project to make sure that it meets the town’s standards.
Mayor Will Haynie explained if the property remained under the county, the Gramling Brothers could build 45 feet or more through a variance. But, the town’s ordinance for the property would require retail frontage on Coleman and activity zones.
Ulma said the AB-2 zoning would require that 60% of the ground floor street frontage must be devoted to retail, commercial, restaurant or other uses. So it wouldn’t be all self-storage frontage on the property, it would have to include an activity zone.
Cunnane, Owens and Santos again voted in dissent, with a final vote of 6-3 rezoning the property within the Peach Orchard Plaza to AB-2.