The Charleston City Plan, a new 10-year comprehensive plan for Charleston that has been drafted with sweeping zoning changes passed its first reading at Tuesday’s City Council meeting after an hourlong period of comments from the public and council members.
“Generally speaking, we are very pleased with this plan, it’s clear that it’s taking a positive new direction, incorporating a lot of tough lessons learned over the last few decades,” Coastal Conservation League’s (CCL) communities and transportation senior project manager Betsy La Force said during the meeting.
Suggested changes primarily revolve around rezoning the greater Charleston area based on elevation, hydrology and flood-risk data research. The recommendation came from CCL and other environmental advocacy groups and the Dutch Dialogues study on sea-level rise in Charleston.
However, La Force said certain areas of the plan, including zoning on Cainhoy, were inconsistent with that direction of thinking, and put the area at risk.
Another aspect to the city plan that some say is too narrow deals with affordable housing. Council member Ross Appel, during a two-hour workshop of the plan June 30, said while the city of Charleston leads in affordable housing programs, it is still falling short.
Other council members added that even if the city were to meet its goal of programs and affordable housing units, the way they are utilized is equally as important.
“If affordable communities become concentrations of lower income people, then we are defeating our purpose,” Council member William Gregorie said during Tuesday’s Council meeting. “A part of trying to incorporate affordable units throughout a community is a healthy thing, because it allows the coming together of all incomes in one neighborhood.”
Council member Carol Jackson said that even though the vote was unanimous in granting the Charleston City Plan first reading, the council would continue to amend the document and take into consideration any and all comments and concerns the community has.