SUMMERVILLE — More development plans are in the works for the front of a neighborhood off U.S. Highway 78, and some residents are determined to see it stopped. 

“This is not a win-win situation,” said Tom Clark, a South Pointe resident. 

Developers with Dan Ryan Builders and South Pointe Ventures are petitioning the town to annex a plot of land from Dorchester County and zone it multifamily residential. The goal is to build townhomes on the nearly 16 acres of land. 

Ron Bullman, representative with Dan Ryan Builders, said the townhomes fit into the town’s comprehensive plan. And if town officials see any mistakes in their plans, Bullman said they would be happy to address them.

This is after a similar attempt was made last year to build a 228-unit apartment complex in the same area. That petition was withdrawn following pushback and concerns from residents.

During a Dec. 20 town Planning Commission meeting, some of the same residents gathered to push back against the townhome proposal. 

The issues include concerns around increased flooding and altering the feel of their community. The biggest concern is increased traffic. 

The neighborhood has only one entrance, off U.S. 78. That intersection is a mile away from the Berlin G. Myers Parkway. Traffic is routinely backed up to the neighborhood.  

“We can’t get out,” said Susan Richerson, who has lived in the community for more than 20 years. She and her neighbors have dealt with ongoing issues with flooding where water has risen to several feet. They would prefer that be addressed before more homes are built in the area.

Other issues mentioned included environmental risks due to the wetlands around the property and potentially adding to overcrowded high schools. DD2 officials have pointed to overcrowding in middle and high schools as the main factor preventing them from social distancing in schools. 

Dorchester School District 2 teacher Christi Pitchford said she has seen firsthand how crowded some of the schools can get. “These people are going to bring kids,” Pitchford said in reference to the potential townhomes’ residents.

Bullman suggested residents look to the town to address the flooding concerns.

Developers said the plan is to have 30 percent of the land remain wooded to protect the wetlands. They are also open to additional zoning restrictions that would make sure that no apartments are built in the area. 

The Planning Commission voted unanimously against approving the annexation. Members said there was nothing legally wrong with the developer’s proposal but said the vote came down to the area not being ready for the additional traffic that would come with the project. U.S. 78 is expected to be widened in the area, but that portion of the road project is years away. 

A turning lane at the U.S. 78 and South Pointe Boulevard intersection is also in the works and funded by the developer. 

Kevin Carroll, one of the commission members, said he can only imagine what additional townhomes would do to situations where people need fast emergency services.

“That’s a real scary moment,” he said. 

In the last year, the town of Summerville has been pushing for more commercial and industrial spaces in the community. Those areas bring more money into the town and help fund resources. More residential spaces mean more areas to extend town services. 

During the Planning Commission meeting, town staff members informed the commission that Summerville has long passed the tipping point of being overcrowded with residential spaces.  

Bullman said they were open to hearing questions or concerns, and believe the townhomes will be a good fit with the zoning.

The commission’s vote is only a recommendation. Town Council will make the final decision on the annexation. Council meetings take place the second Thursday of each month. 

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Some Summerville residents push back against townhome development plans – Charleston Post Courier

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