Advocacy Update: Laurel Island PUD
preservation-admin , October 8, 2020
LAUREL ISLAND PUD
Since first reading of the Laurel Island PUD last month, the developer has been working with City Legal on a set of proposed revisions, which were presented in draft form at yesterday’s meeting. The PSC is working to obtain a copy to conduct our own analysis.
Upon initial review, we are encouraged to see several concerns raised by the PSC and fellow stakeholders reflected in revised PUD language, but there is still much work to be done.
Some members of Council agreed with the PSC that the non-permanent workforce housing should be provided for 25 years rather than 10, and that higher minimum requirements for office and retail should be incorporated to ensure a healthy, diverse mix of uses on Laurel Island. Additionally, community outreach to date continues to be inadequate.
While an additional public hearing will be held at City Council on October 27, the developer must go further to ensure the PUD is shaped by community input. Once approved, there will be no further opportunity for public involvement.
The PSC is increasingly disappointed with the City’s approach to approving projects of this scale. From PUDs like the Epic Center, to Cainhoy, to Laurel Island, the City continues to cede an unprecedented level of authority to developers. The City needs to set the vision for the future of Charleston and not defer to developers’ need to create sellable product. It is hard not to question the priorities of the City. On one hand, the City balks at the idea of using tax increment financing district (TIF) funds to help save the St. Julian Devine smokestacks for existing residents, but is eager to allocate TIF funds to build a bridge for the developer of Laurel Island. We must demand better for Charleston.