Save River Road, Johns Island SC from more developement

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As concerned citizens of Johns Island and/or the City of Charleston we are opposed to the rezoning of the property (TMS# 3170000089 and 011 (portion)) from Light Industrial (LI) to Rural Residential (RR-1) to be presented before the Council on August 15, 2017.

The property consists of two parcels:  (1) TMS 317-00-00-011,  approximately 70 acres of highlands, 38 acres of critical area, and 10 acres of marsh, and (2) TMS 317-00-00-089,  approximately 10 acres of highlands and 15 acres of critical area.   These tracts are currently zoned light industrial. Although research has yet to reveal when these tracts acquired that zoning, it likely happened simply because the tracts are immediately adjacent to the Johns Island Airport. The applicant seeks to re-zone the property to rural residential. Under Section 54-201 of the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance, a developer could build 3.5 houses per acre on this property.  In other words, a developer could put between two hundred fifty (250) and three-hundred (300) houses in this space. 

  We respectfully ask for no vote on the rezoning request of this parcel for the following reasons:

1. The Proposed Rezoning is inconsistent with Johns Island Community Plan(JICP) which the City Council ratified in 2007 and the City of Charleston Green Plan, accepted by City Council in 2010:

·        It is an inappropriate use of large scale development at the edge of the City of Charleston Urban Growth Boundary. The Johns Island Community Plan suggests that development densities should taper down to the Urban Growth Boundary.  The proposed rezoned land could have upwards of 200-300 homes built on it at the allowable 1-4 units/acre.  The Stono Pointe community, abutting said property, has a density of 1 home per 1 to 5 acres, houses along Exchange Landing Road are 1-3 acre lots, and Shoreline Farms, approximately .5 miles inland on River Road, is similar.

 The Johns Island Community Plan, ratified by City Council in 2007, recommended that, due to safety issues surrounding storm surge from the Stono River and Bohicket Creek, housing developments should not be built below 15ft. elevation on Johns Island, especially on low lying land abutting marshes on the Stono River because it places property and human lives at unnecessary risk.

According to the JICP:

 “Land at lower elevations will be recommended for agricultural uses, long-leaf pine forest, preserve or hyper-low-density housing (one dwelling per 10 acres minimum). In particular, the low lying “fingers” which reach across the island will be consideredunsuitable for neighborhood development. Most of this area lies outside of the Urban Growth Boundary, and it, therefore, reinforces the need to keep future development within the designated boundary limits” p25 JICP.

This land will only be become more vulnerable to storm surge and sever weather events due to sea level rise in the coming years.

 2. The Proposed Rezoning of the property is incompatible with the surrounding properties:

The proposed rezoning would allow homes to be built in close proximity to the Johns Island Municipal Airport, an area that many aircraft regularly fly over.  Developing an RR-1 density residential community in this area would place its residents in harm’s way and subject them to high noise levels. The current zoning serves to help create a buffer around the airport.

According to the JICP:

“The Johns Island Executive Airport, which would support concierge-like businesses such as a small, gourmet market featuring fresh local produce, or a car-rental facility/gas station that will be provided for on the airport site. Other strengths include: --The Johns Island Executive Airport, with runways long enough for many varieties of jet aircraft (including modified 50 seat jets). This provides opportunities for easy travel in and out of this verdant retreat.” -

 3.The Proposed Rezoning Is Inconsistent with Public Health, Safety, and General Welfare

·        It would allow dense residential development in a low-lying peninsular area subject to hurricane storm surge against the recommendations of the JICP.

·        There is insufficient road infrastructure – Burden Creek Road and what is referred to as Jack Hill Road simply cannot handle the dramatic increase in traffic that will occur if the rezoning is permitted.  Furthermore “Jack Hill Road” consists of a narrow (unapproved) easement across a private residential lot (Lot 14A) of Stono Pointe.

 ·        There is no sewage service this far down River Road and it would be an expensive and difficult task to make it available.

 ·        The residential neighborhoods adjacent to the property will witness a dramatic increase in traffic which will decrease their quality of life, lower their property values, and make access to emergency services more difficult. 

 ·        Rapid neighborhood growth along River Road, especially Stono View subdivision, has already contributed to an overload of traffic on River Road and Maybank Highway.  

 4. The property borders the last undeveloped estuarine creek on Johns Island.  The forest is home to wildlife including wood storks, ibis, great horned owls, eagles, osprey, bobcats, herds of deer, and countless other species including migratory wildfowl.  Recreationally and commercially important marine fish and shellfish need these creeks and undisturbed marshes for growth and reproduction.

 5. Lack of genuine neighborhood engagement – The property owner and developer have not held meetings with their local neighbors, including Stono Pointe residents. In fact, the notice of the July 19th rezoning meeting was placed where no one except the property’s owner or persons visiting his property would see it.

 We respectfully ask that the rezoning request be denied.