Planning Commission rejects Johns Island rezoning request
2009/04/14, 12:16 pm
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A proposal to build 73 homes on a large Johns Island property, rather than the maximum of 14 homes allowed by zoning rules, was rejected Monday evening by the Charleston County Planning Commission.

The commission recommended denying the zoning change requested by the developer, Canal Land & Timber LLC, but the final decision will be up to County Council in the coming months.

Opponents of the Saltpond Pointe development far outnumbered supporters at the Planning Commission meeting, prompting Jonathan Yates, an attorney for the developer, to say the issue shouldn’t become a popularity contest.

Yates said all the properties surrounding his client’s 118-acre tract on Chisolm Road have zoning that allows at least one house per acre, rather than the 8 acres per house required on his client’s land.

Several neighbors of the property spoke in favor of the plan, while nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition.

A zoning change can make a property more valuable, by allowing more intense development, and some opponents said granting a zoning change for Saltpond Pointe would encourage more developers to seek similar treatment.

“It’s a beautiful plan, but it belongs west of the Ashley, and not on Johns Island,” Planning Commissioner Charlie Smith said.

The county planning staff recommended against the zoning change, noting that the property is outside the county’s “urban growth boundary” that marks the end of suburban-style development and that the proposed development would conflict with the county’s comprehensive plan for growth.

The city of Charleston and the Coastal Conservation League also opposed the rezoning. City Planning Division Director Christopher Morgan said Charleston has rejected five or six requests to annex the property and change the zoning.

The county Planning Commission voted 6-1-1 against the rezoning, with Commissioner Paul Speights voting against the majority and Commissioner Jerome Murray abstaining because he said he couldn’t make up his mind.

Commissioner Samuella Holmes was absent from the meeting.

County Council will take up the issue at a public hearing May 5.