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Community : Top Stories Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013 - 8:33:48 AM

Growth is coming to Clements Ferry Road
By Elizabeth Bush
Oct 23, 2013 - 8:32:39 AM

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An estimated crowd of about 150 people turned out to hear more about the new community planned for the Cainhoy Plantation property. Tim Keane, director of planning, preservation and sustainability for the City of Charleston, addressed proposed new zoning the city will be considering for the development.
The City of Charleston displayed several maps depicting various views of the Guggenheim-owned parcel and the proposed development for area residents to see.
Many residents who reside on the Cainhoy Peninsula were curious to see how the development of the Cainhoy Plantation property would impact their neighborhoods.
This poster, displayed at the meeting, featured various illustrations depicting the new master planned community, including leisure and educational trails, lakes and ponds, pocket parks, plazas, and recreational amenities.

Right now, Susan Petinga has nothing but trees and wildlife behind her River Reach Pointe home near the banks of the Wando River.  As she carefully studied a large map displaying a proposed master plan community on the Cainhoy Peninsula, she could see that changing times are ahead for her quiet neck of the woods.
“All we have is the forest in our back yard, and bears, turkeys, and foxes,” said Petinga, whose home is located just on the southeastern edge of the planned new development.  “…We sort of knew this might happen. It was too prime a piece of property not to develop.”
Petinga was one of about 150 people who turned out for the first public meeting on the project, dubbed the “Cainhoy Planned Unit Development.” The event, held on October 15 at the Gildan plant on Clements Ferry Road, was hosted by the City of Charleston and those representing the family of the late Harry Frank Guggenheim, the current owners of the 9,000 acre parcel. When fully developed, the property could be home to some 20,000 residents.   
“This is something that will happen over a period of decades,” said Tim Keane, director of planning, preservation and sustainability for the City of Charleston. “…Some of us may not be around when this gets finished.  But we think that (the developers) have started in a good place.”
According to Scott Parker of Design Works, the firm that is handling the development’s design, the proposed new community would be located on either side of Clements Ferry Road, extending north to the Cooper River and south to the Wando River. Using principles set forth in the City of Charleston’s “Century V” comprehensive plan, the Cainhoy Plantation parcel will focus on creating a mixed-use, diverse community that offers citizens a place to live, work, shop and recreate, added Parker.
Plans call for a “community core” near Clements Ferry Road; large residential areas that feature parks, ponds and connecting trails systems; job centers and light industrial development; and “river villages” at both the Cooper and Wando with dramatic waterfront edges.
“The model for that would be the Old Village in Mount Pleasant,” said Parker, of the riverfront spaces. “It will be a little more dense, houses might be more closer together, and maybe there will be some shops and a restaurant…It really turns that into a gathering place or a center of focus for the larger community.”  
Several thousand acres of the tract contain both freshwater and saltwater wetlands, which contribute greatly to the region’s environmental appeal, added Parker. Efforts will be taken to preserve biohabitats and enhance connectivity to natural areas.  
“Wetlands are very much a part of what Cainhoy is all about,” added Parker, whose firm also handled site design for the Daniel Island community. “They literally lace through the entire property. So while you may think of it as one big piece of open land, in fact it has a very diverse character, and those wetlands will determine to a great extent what is built there and how it is built there.”
The Guggenheim legacy
The tract was first purchased in the 1930s by Guggenheim, who initially amassed some 15,000 acres on the Cainhoy Peninsula, including Daniel Island. Guggenheim’s land on Daniel Island was eventually developed into today’s award-winning community, which is owned and managed by the Daniel Island Company.  Matt Sloan, president of Daniel Island Company, has long represented the Guggenheim family’s Charleston interests and is serving as an advisor on the development of their Cainhoy property, along with members of his management team. He told the crowd gathered that Daniel Island is considered a source of regional pride, largely due to the Guggenheim family’s vision of creating a place where people want to live.
“They wanted me to say that tonight, because they are so proud of the work they started on Daniel Island…those early principles will be carried through to their property on Cainhoy.”
Sloan described the Guggenheim name as one that is of high repute and synonymous with excellence.   
“They are very concerned about quality. This is a legacy asset for them. Harry Frank Guggenheim in his lifetime was quoted as saying of all the things he’s ever owned or been a part of…there is nothing that brought him more pleasure than Cainhoy Plantation…So there are strong ties to this place that I think should give everyone comfort and excitement that something that is going to be a regional asset will be developed here.”
Zoning changes proposed
One of the main purposes of the public meeting was to present proposed changes to the zoning regulations in the Cainhoy Plantation development area, which is about twice the size of Daniel Island.  According to Keane, the Guggenheim tract was annexed into the City of Charleston starting in 1991. At the time, there were no zoning restrictions and no density limitations on development. In the early 2000s, plans surfaced to develop pieces of the property into several new neighborhoods, one of which is the present-day Peninsula subdivision. A plan was introduced then and approved by the city to change the zoning to limit density to 2.1 units per acre. Today, in preparation for the new master, planned community, the City is hoping to change the zoning once again to make it similar to what is found on Daniel Island.
“The plantation is owned by three Guggenheim entities,” explained Sloan. “They are all related…We are starting the process for seeking approval of PUDs, or planned unit developments. We’re taking (the original) broad zoning and we are modifying it and limiting it so it resembles the Daniel Island zoning.”
The new zoning, if approved, would offer mixed-use opportunities, as well as residential and light industrial areas. The density cap would remain the same. Encouraging diversity in housing and job opportunities is part of the overall plan, added Parker.
“The idea of having homes close to work centers…makes sense,” he said. “It’s really a goal that is consistent with the City and a goal that we are embracing.”
“This area is ripe for a retail center,” added Sloan. “I’m still amazed there is not a supermarket here.”
But some in the audience questioned whether the proposed zoning changes were good for the area. Well-known Cainhoy community advocate Fred Lincoln pointed out to those hosting the public gathering that a Daniel Island-style development will not work for everyone.  
“Daniels Island does not have large gardens,” stated Lincoln. “Daniels Island does not have mobile or manufactured homes...I don’t see a neighborhood like Daniels Island being inclusive for everyone…A school teacher cannot live (there) and buy a home…They can in our community. So we want to work out something where we can have true affordable housing.”
“I just think about the small communities,” added Julia Mazcyk, after the meeting. “It’s really gonna push them out.”
Another area resident, Tanya Dickerson, expressed concern that public input may not get the consideration she feels it deserves.
“It’s already been developed,” she said. “…They said we may be here, maybe we won’t. But it’s happening and it’s coming.”
“There is more to talk about than what we heard tonight,” added Eleanora Morgan, who owns property in the Clements Ferry Road area.
The Clements Ferry Road dilemma
With only one way in and one way out, neighborhoods along Clements Ferry Road are already feeling the squeeze of increased traffic and congestion. Many fear future development in the area will put even more stress on the corridor. A proposed $20 million planned widening project, funded through a one cent Berkeley County sales tax, is in the works. But Berkeley County Councilman Tim Callanan, who spoke about the project at the beginning of the public session, expressed dismay at the initiative’s lack of timely progress.     
“You can imagine my frustration that we are now five years into this project and we do not even have a shovel in the ground,” he said.
As Callanan explained to the crowd, the money for the effort is “in the bank” but the State Department of Transportation, the entity responsible for design and construction, has pushed the start date on the project to 2015.
“Quite frankly, even though we are giving them the money to do it, they apparently lack the resources to get this done in any reasonable period of time…The squeaky wheel gets the grease and the county has to know what you’re dealing with down here on a regular basis….They need to hear from you how frustrating this road is and how the county needs to figure out a way to get it fixed.”
While funds are available for the first phase of the Clements Ferry Road project, which includes the stretch from I-526 to Jack Primus Road, money has not yet been obtained to improve the portion from Jack Primus to Highway 41.
“It is my hope that with the development that we’re bringing to the area, with the pressure that taxpayers here in this part of the county bring to bear, and with increased demand for public schools, that we can get the county to think about this project sooner rather than later,” added Sloan.   
First things first
According to planners on the Cainhoy Plantation project, the acquisition of land on the property by the Berkeley County School District for a new high school launched the effort to start development. Next on the agenda is the construction of a 1.7 mile road from Clements Ferry Road to the new school site.   
“(The school district) is on track to acquire the land in the first quarter of next year,” said Sloan. “The land will require a road to be built by the ownership, in the second half of next year possibly. Our activities are going to come pretty close to coinciding with phase one of the Clements Ferry widening project.
Sloan expects development activities will be confined to the area south of Clements Ferry Road in the project’s initial stages, beginning near the Nelliefield subdivision.
“I believe, and I think Daniel Island demonstrates this, that if you build schools people will want to live by them,” Sloan said. “So that’s the first thing that I expect to see happen.”
“Allocating spaces for schools is important,” added David Ramey, a resident in the area who is currently serving on a Berkeley County School District education committee for selecting new school sites for the Daniel Island and Cainhoy communities. “Hopefully, based on the projected build-out, they have enough land set aside to meet the capacity needed for the schools."
The Cainhoy Planned Unit Development is on the agenda for the November 20 meeting of the City of Charleston Planning Commission. The meeting, to be held at 75 Calhoun Street, will begin at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.  

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