U.S.17 panel makes recommendations.
Most controversial issue facing task force ishow plans to extend road would affect rural areas
Edition:FINAL, Section: LOCAL & STATE, Page B1
Membersof a task force charged with steering the future of the U.S. Highway17 corridor through northern Mount Pleasant made their initialrecommendations Tuesday night.
Though it willnot vote on the recommendations until early June, the Highway 17Corridor Task Force agreed to create consistent low-density urban andcommercial zoning for both incorporated and unincorporated areas;push for protections for sweetgrass basket stands, and to submit twocontroversial ideas for
extensions toHungryneck Boulevard.
The task forcewas created by the town of Mount Pleasant, Charleston County and theCoastal Community Foundation as a way for residents living in an arearoughly between the Isle of Palms Connector, Porcher's Bluff Road,U.S. 17 and Rifle Range Road to address traffic, neighborhoodinfrastructure, future growth and create consistent zoning betweenincorporated and unincorporated areas. The recommendations will besubmitted to planning commissions and councils of Charleston Countyand Mount Pleasant and will eventually serve as legal guidelines forgrowth and improvements for the area.
While many pointsbrought general agreement, a proposal to build a major trafficcorridor on the western side of U.S. 17 brought out several membersof the public who were not considered a part of the task force'sinitial focus.
Among thoseconcerned about a major road through the strawberry fields of the700-acre Boone Hall Plantation were residents of the Rice Fieldsneighborhood and Boone Hall's owner, Willie McRae.
"It makes nosense in terms of traffic flow," McRae said. "You have to go north,east, west and south just to go north. And what would the road do toa history property like Boone Hall? We're one of America's oldestcontinually working plantations."
McRae added thatwith rampant growth in and around Mount Pleasant, Boone Hallrepresented one of the largest remaining pieces of contiguous greenspace. "I don't think I should be penalized for being a good stewardof my land," he said.
But residents ofthe historically black communities of Six
Mile, Seven Mileand Hamlin have expressed a strong interest in keeping theirgenerations-old neighborhoods intact. This
would includemaintaining a zoning of no more than three houses per acre andlimiting commercial development. Many in the area fear that any newroad would usher in new development, and increase the tax burden onlow-income residents.
Six Mile residentand task force member George Freeman said that the alternate roadplan was the product of many members of his community.
"This road isbeing pushed by the town of Mount Pleasant," Freeman said. "But thearea we're talking about is not in Mount Pleasant. This is a historicAfrican community that is made up of the descendants of thoseAfricans who were oppressed during slavery. Some are actuallydescended from people who worked on Boone Hall Plantation. Africanswere given the opportunity to re-create the village concept of theirhomeland in America after they were given their freedom. The peoplewho live in our community don't look at it as an investment. Theyappreciate what they have and they want it to stay that way."
Reach Chris Dixonat firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 745-5855.
A few conceptualideas in the Highway 17 Task Force's Survey of NeighborhoodPreferences:
Traffic Option A
--Build new roadon west side of U.S. Highway 17 through Boone Hall Farms - eitherbuild an overpass or intersection connecting the Boone Hall connectorto Hungryneck via Old Georgetown and Long Point Roads.
--Build a newroad parallel to Hamlin Road near Old Georgetown Road and U.S. 17running to Hamlin Beach.
Traffic Option B
--Extend currentalignment of Hungryneck Boulevard Phase 3 across Hamlin Road toPorcher's Bluff Road.
--Low-densityzoning in both town and county areas of three units per acre.
--Createprovisions for lower cost "workforce" housing.
--Low intensitycommercial on U.S. 17 north of Old Georgetown Road. Include buffersto protect sweetgrass basket stands.
--Anyhigh-intensity retail to include protections and buffers for basketstands.
--Any new roadshould be shaded and include street lighting and sidewalks forrunners, walkers and bicyclists.
--Redefineaffordable workforce housing.
--Mount Pleasantto consider providing regular septic field maintenance program.
--Improve stormwater drainage for mosquito control and flooding, possibly creatingmaster retention pond within town's Hamlin Park.