Town Crier

  • Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mount Pleasant Town Council Committees met Monday for the first time under new Mayor Linda Page.

A mini storage facility has been proposed to be added to the Belle Hall Planned Development. The 1.5 acre tract is located on Wando Park Boulevard and is being proposed as an additional conditional use.

It is located in front of Mount Pleasant Waterworks water tank. The plan is to construct a multistory building, not visible to any street or right of way.

The Planning Commission recommended unanimous approval for the proposal. The Planning Committee heard the proposal and also recommended approval.

The committee also entertained a request to amend a land use classification from light industrial to residential on the Belle Hall Planned Development along Wando Park Boulevard to include four duplex units. In 2002 the town took the initiative to rezone the property to economic development.

The Planning Commission had concerns and recommended denial.

The applicant addressed the committee. Tommy Smith, president and owner of Novuce Architects, is owner of the property. The firm has been headquartered in Mount Pleasant for the past 24 years.

He said that adjacent properties would remain zoned economic development.

The lot is one acre and only half of that is usable when you deduct for wetlands and other buffers.

He suggested the usable area is relatively small in regard to economic development.

He said the property units are already sold to four friends looking to downsize.

A small point on the tip of the Wando River has been proposed to be open to the public.

He said there is no detrimental effect and he has not heard of any opposition. He said construction would commence in 2014 and enter that tax market in 2015. Smith said Novus Architects have created their own small construction company and this would be its first project.

Councilman Elton Carrier said three members of this committee sit on the Economic Development Committee and they have all agreed that they would not let go of any economic development zoned parcels because there are so few.

Smith countered that the property had been on the market for nine months with no interest.

Chris O’Neal asked what could possibly go on the site with half of it being wetlands. He said he struggled with the use when half is developable and the other half isn’t. What could they attract or put there, he asked.

Committee Chairman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall has noticed that as the economy has turned, there has been an increase in requests for a change from economic parcels to residential zoning. Planning Director Christianne Farrell agreed.

Stokes-Marshall said it was important to look at the big picture when looking at the impacts, and the potential loss of economic development land. Looking to the future, there is a good possibility those properties would be developed for the purpose of economic development which would be a huge benefit for the town overall.

She said she was also concerned about the overall impact of Wando Park Boulevard and Longpoint Road with the additional of residential units. There is only one way in and one way out of this proposed development.

She said she could not support this request. Committee member Mark Smith, who says he is a strong proponent for property rights, said he would support the project.

The committee voted 2-2 to recommend the project to the full town council.

Recreation

Councilman Elton Carrier, chairman of the Recreation Committee, introduced Jim Owens who requested to name the Park West Track after 9-year-old Peyton Moore, a young man who ran track, but recently passed away.

Peyton began working out with his father Noah not long after he started walking. He participated in many sports. Owens called him the epitome of a young man who took on anything he was faced with.

“He was the catalyst and the glue for his teammates, classmates and friends’ parents,” said Owens.

He said he saw this as a good opportunity for the town to reward good work.

Peyton loved life and the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department, his father said through tears. He said the entire facility has created a lot of memories for their family.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend this to the full council. Councilman Gary Santos was not present. Carrier called it a fitting tribute.

In other news

For a trial period in January, the Senior Center hours will change to 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, rather than 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Due to the increase in the number of members and member habits, the earlier hours will be more beneficial. Recreation Department Director Ken Ayoub said that very few people utilize the facility after 7 p.m. but prefer early morning hours instead.

Bids/Purchases

Edwards Park Pump replacement will get underway soon. This is vital to removing storm water in that area.

The project will be awarded to Zillam for a cost of $169,730.72.

A construction contract has also been awarded for the Whitehall Community Center. Carolina Park Developers made funding available to the Whitehall Terrace Community. The town held the money in trust and purchased land to put the center on. More than $175,000 in community block grants has also been obtained to make the project possible.

Mitchell Construction Company will construct the facility for $500,000. Its bid came in over budget by $135,000. Additional funds will be needed to be approved by the full town council before the bid can actually be awarded. The contract was awarded contingent on the additional funding being made available in a budget adjustment ordinance.

Public Services

The SCE&G Tree-Trimming schedule for 2014 has been released. Over the years it has been a controversial issue and working closely with the town, they have tried to minimize the impact by minimizing the tree-cutting schedule from seven years to five years. There are many projects in which the lines are being buried underground. But for those lines still above ground, it is crucial that trees be trimmed.

Trimming will occur in the Old Village, along Rifle Range Road, Ben Sawer Boulevard and Chuck Dawley Boulevard during the first quarter of 2014. Trimming will not occur along the entire portion of any of these areas.

Ahead of trimming there will be notification to property owners in the zone through billing notices and individual letters. There will also be community engagement programs in which citizens can attend meetings complete with maps on a large scale so that they can ascertain if their street, home or business is affected. Attendees can talk one-on-one with an SCE&G forester and the tree company contracted with SCE&G to do the trimming.

There will also be a 1-800 customer service phone number during the tree trimming. An engagement meeting will be scheduled at Alhambra Hall in the near future.

Assets program

A capital improvement plan was put in place last year for the public services department. Stantech, a consultant hired to help with this plan, looked at every piece of infrastructure the department must service and maintain.

Funding for some of these projects has been made available this fiscal year, Jody Peele, director of Public Services said.

Asset Data Collection is essential before anything can begin. Peele said a program has been put in place so that work can be managed on the thousands of town assets.

Technology and equipment will also be made available in the field so the information can be obtained there. For example, an employee can see right away that the town owns 25 miles of open channels and drains. Staff can also see the life span, the age and types of pipes underground without turning a shovel of dirt.

Inventory will be revealed through the asset software program right down to sidewalk square foot, pavement markings signs and more.

Installation and inspection is critical, Peele explained. All information will be logged as new inventory goes in. Maintenance and replacement can be scheduled and documented along the way as well.

A list of projects that need to take place in 2014 represent a minute percentage of the work that needs to be done. More than $14 million will be needed to complete everything over the next 100 years in addition to added maintenance expenses.

In other news, natural gas was offered up as an alternative fuel option for fueling fleet vehicles. The town has always relied on gasoline, but there is price volatility and the supply is sometimes in question. Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said the town could be vulnerable. Long-term, natural gas is 30-40 percent cheaper and there is less maintenance costs associated with it, he said. This is an exploratory idea, but DeMoura sees the potential for natural gas to see be the primary source for fleet fuel.

An inter-agency fueling station is possible in the future, he said. This could be a joint venture between the town, the Ports Authority and Mount Pleasant Waterworks. South Carolina Electric and Gas would be a primary provider, DeMoura said.

This was for information only, but will be revisited as more information becomes available.

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