Advocacy Update // Laurel Island PUD
Preservation-Society , April 1, 2020
Published April 1, 2020
Expected to come for an “information only” review at the next meeting of the Planning Commission is the proposed rezoning of Laurel Island as a high-density, mixed-use Planned Unit Development (PUD). This is the initial step in the approval process for one of the peninsula’s largest and most impactful projects in recent history. Located just north of downtown on the Cooper River, this island formerly served as a city landfill and presents major challenges for development. This will be a once in a generation-type development and the PSC has concernswiththis plan’s lack of guiding vision and the level of public engagement to date.
- Vision: Providing few specifics, this PUD proposes to allow the market to determine the development of Laurel Island in lieu of a guiding vision and plan.
- Height districts: The majority of the development is proposed to allow 8-story buildings which will have significant adverse impact on multiple historic properties in the vicinity including Magnolia Cemetery and the Standard Oil buildings.
- Land use: The PUD allows for over 10,000,000 sqft of housing, and 2,200,000 sqft of office, with less than 300,000 sqft of retail and minimal open space. This will be problematic for activation of future streetscapes and Laurel Island’s capacity to function as a self-sustaining development.
- Traffic and transportation: Little information is provided regarding public transit options and cumulative impact of this dense development on congestion on the peninsula and surrounding areas.
- Flooding: The six feet of fill material required to develop the site causes concern for stormwater and drainage impacts on and off Laurel Island.
Although this review is for “information only,” the Planning Commission’s opinion on the Laurel Island PUD will largely be formed at this initial meeting. The PSC is greatly concerned that there has been no opportunity for the community to weigh in on the future of this critically important and potentially impactful development ahead of Planning Commission review. The community needs to understand the impact of this proposal and engage in the future of Laurel Island before it goes before the Planning Commission. It will be important to ensure that decision making is open and inclusive and that government is transparent and accessible. It is imperative that Commission members hear from the community to prevent a one-sided conversation.
The Planning Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting is on the calendar for April 29. The PSC will keep you posted on whether this meeting is to be held in person, virtually, or further postponed. Comments can be submitted ahead of time to City of Charleston Planning Manager, Christopher Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org and please CC the PSC at email@example.com. If you have questions about the Laurel Island PUD, you can email PSC Advocacy staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.