District 4 Updates- November 15, 2014.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare broke ground last week for its five-floor 130,000 square foot administrative office center on Palmetto Commerce Parkway at Patriot Boulevard. It’s a $28 million facility and when it opens in spring 2016, 600 management and administrative personnel will work under one roof. They’ll enjoy a workplace environment that will include walking trails, a fitness center, and a café.

Roper St. Francis opened its consolidated data center complex on an adjacent PCP property earlier this year. These properties are owned by the venerable Medical Society of South Carolina, an organization of some 400 physicians. The Society traces its Charleston roots to 1789. It is a non-profit organization – and thus, is generally exempt from property taxes.

Roper St. Francis’ growth and expansion to PCP is good news economically for sure, and more evidence that PCP is a hotbed commercial development corridor and a center of “good jobs” employment. Boeing is expanding its PCP presence steadily; so are Cummins and Daimler Vans. Charleston County is moving along with its plans for a state-of-the-art recycling center on PCP.

But with that good news, there is the one issue I hear most about in my Council work – TRAFFIC. At either end of Palmetto Commerce Parkway at rush hour, it’s simply awful – and likely to get worse before final solutions can be planned and built.

The City has a limited role in roadway capacities — but we do beg, plead and importune Charleston County and the S.C. Department of Transportation to address traffic congestion as a “quality-of-life” neighborhood issue.

A turning lane capacity expansion project is about to begin at PCP intersection with Ladson Road. This should help with the afternoon rush hour congestion nightmares.

The Corridor’s Ashley Phosphate intersection is more problematic. The big plan is a PCP “flyover” of Ashley Phosphate, but this is years away. We have now asked Charleston County to consider all possible interim improvements, such as better signaling.

Charleston County has taken the initiative in a somewhat related project – adding a second turning lane from Ashley Phosphate onto eastbound Interstate 26. This work should begin in late January, depending on weather.

And many of you have inquired as to what’s going on at the property generally behind Daimler and across from Boeing’s Interior Responsibility plant on Patriot Boulevard. A large land parcel is being cleared. The activity relates to a developer’s plans for a “spec” building to be built in the “near future.” One interesting planning factoid, however, is that the access road for this project will be a link in the Future Drive roadway which ultimately will link Patriot Boulevard to the new Interstate 26 interchange. The first phase of Future Drive, from Northside to PCP should be completed next summer.

Looks like we’ll have two Walmart Neighborhood grocery centers soon underway — one at Ladson Road and PCP, and another at Patriot Boulevard at Dorchester Road.

Look for a “Raising Cane” chicken restaurant project to begin at the Corner at Wescott early next year.

A Sears-K Mart “outlet” is the latest working rumor for a chunk of the Festival Center.

NOTE TO HOA AND POA officers – A new state law promotes maximum coordination between local governments and owners’ associations. This encourages the filing and timely updates of covenants, guidelines and standards. The net objective is to assure that neighborhood rules and regulations are fully respected in local governments’ planning, zoning and permitting. Most District 4 owners’ associations already provide such filings and updates routinely. Our city is working now to make filings and updates as simple as possible and I will keep the officers of owners’ associations informed.

North Charleston’s Annual Christmas Parade will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, December 6 at Park Circle. This is always a lively and colorful Holiday Season parade in a family environment. Hope to see you there.

Contact me with your questions and your counsel. And please pass this little newsletter on to your neighbors. I would be pleased to add anyone to the direct mailing list. They need only to contact me at rbrin@aol.com

District Updates

October 21, 2014

Notice the truck traffic warning signs on Patriot Boulevard? These signs are warnings to large truck drivers that Patriot Boulevard is not an authorized truck route. Only local deliveries are permitted. After this warning period, North Charleston police will begin appropriate enforcement initiatives.

New lane design and markings at Wescott Circle will take a bit longer. The projected costs for this work exceeds available funds budgeted, so the city’s public works department must wait for  funding cycles to catch up.  Look for this work to be completed early in 2015, well ahead of the beginning of construction of the new assisted living campus now approved by City Council and ready for permits and then site work. Pedestrian cross-walks have been completed at the Circle.

We now have an operative road maintenance partnership program underway with Dorchester County.  Finally !  As I’ve previously reported, each of South Carolina’s 46 counties receives a small portion of the state’s  16.75 cents per gallon fuel tax for road maintenance programs.  For Dorchester County, this has been averaging just over $1 million annually.  As some major roadways in District 4 continue to deteriorate into pot-hole corridors, we have challenged the County to help us with city streets. Actually, we learned that Dorchester County has never shared any funding with projects in District 4 and very little in District 9.  Those who attended the last meeting of the Fort Dorchester Residential Association heard this issue discussed fully with Councilmen Bailey and Hargett.  Last week, the Dorchester County Transportation Committee approved an initial program to resurface some key roadways.   Estimated costs – about $1 million, over four years. Funding will be “shared” by the city and the county. The city’s public works department will administer the first tranche of projects.

The priority project is repairing and repaving Patriot Boulevard at Ashley Phosphate Road.  Look for this work to begin as early as January, depending on weather.  Resurfacing Club Course Drive between Dorchester and Patriot is a “standby” priority and could get earlier attention if other priority projects attract lower bids, and thus cost savings. (This is a possibility given falling crude oil prices which should translate into lower asphalt prices.)

The Sunrise town home development at Patriot’s hairpin  is nearing its renewal. This neighborhood will be a part of The Farm at Wescott HOA.  The original plan – approved in 2008 — called for 81 condominium “town homes” clad in vinyl.   As I reported earlier, I objected to the process that allowed a six-year-old plan to proceed without any accommodation to current neighborhood conditions. And I received lots of help in registering this objection from the property owners associations in The Farm and Coosaw Creek — and finally Mayor Summey.  D.R. Horton has now agreed to alter its plans from condominium to “fee simple” town home ownership, to use cememt board (“Hardie Plank”) as the principal exterior cladding, to restrict on-street parking, to limit the number of units to 79 , to respect and maintain the 50-foot buffer with West Fairway Woods, to donate land needed to correct the “hairpin”, and to donate the land needed to connect the Charleston Park street system to Patriot Boulevard. There are still some street dimension issues being worked on, but this project will be more a 2014 plan than a 2008 program,  and that’s a good thing for our broader community. Kudos to D.R. Horton for its willingness to address neighborhood concerns – and thanks to The Farm and Coosaw Creek owners associations for their informed representations of issues and concerns.

Look for that “hairpin” correction project on Patriot Boulevard  to begin in the first quarter of 2015. It is under design now and a federal permit is needed because a small section of a regulated wetland will be impacted.  (This redesign has been planned for many years. This sharp curve is border-line hazardous and simply must be corrected.)

The Ladson Road at Palmetto Commerce Parkway Intersection improvements project is ready to begin. This Charleston County work should start in mid-November and be completed within 12 weeks. Turning lane capacities will be expanded. This should provide some relief for afternoon congestion horrors at this busy intersection. Wish I had any such “positive” news about the other end of PCP – the intersection of Ashley Phosphate which is steroidal congestion in the mornings.  Employment at PCP businesses and plants has doubled in the last three years. It is expected to double again in the next three years. The highway has become a major traffic connector, too.  The Future Drive project connecting the Northside Drive corridor is well underway and is scheduled for completion next August.  The PCP “flyover” of Ashley Phosphate and down to the Boeing campus is still in early planning. As a solution to the morning congestion issues, it is many years away. We have asked the S.C. Department of Transportation and Charleston County to consider some interim initiatives that might provide any measure of relief.  I will keep you posted.

Recyclables disposal service is uniformly provided by county governments.  But Dorchester offers only disposal collection “sites” while Charleston offers curbside pickup.  Our city, wanting to provide consistent services, provides curbside services to its residents in Dorchester County. And demand for this grows steadily throughout the Dorchester corridor communities. but recently there have been delays in pick up schedules.  This problem flares periodically for several reasons. One is the growing use of recyclables disposal in the broad Wescott community  – which is a very good trend.  But this growth has created a service demand that at times exceeds the city’s current resources. North Charleston provides its Dorchester County residents with curb service with the use of a  single garbage truck adapted for the purpose. At times, that truck fills quickly necessitating additional trips to the disposal site. It is during these periods that the crews run woefully behind.

The challenge for our city is to match resources to the demand. I assure you our public works department is working to achieve just that.

Please share this newsletter with your neighbors, and I’ll be glad to add anyone to the distribution list. They need only to contact me at rbrin@aol.com. 

Also, please check in regularly at  www.northcharleston.org for information on city services – or requests for city services — and activities and programs for city residents. Here’s an  example of one such opportunity, a message from Salley Mobley about a special volunteering program:

It has been my pleasure to volunteer with Reading Partners at Burns Elementary for the last several years.  The curriculum is very simple to follow and time spent with a young mind is good for the soul.  The Mayor has been a great supporter of this program since its inception.  I hope you will consider signing up, here is a breakdown of needs in our fair city: 

Chicora Elementary            30 tutors needed now

Burns Elementary                40 tutors needed now

Hursey Elemntary                45 tutors needed now

Goodwin Elementary          30 tutors needed now.

 

Centers are also opening at Lambs and Pepperhill in November so they’ll need a substantial number of tutors there as well.

With as little as one hour a week, you can make a difference in a child’s life. Reading Partners is a national program with measureable results. In Charleston County last year, 71% of students increased their literacy learning and 94% of tutors reported satisfaction in their experience with both Reading Partners and public education.

To sign up, contact: Sally Mobley Volunteer Coordinator

sally.mobley@readingpartners.org

843-860-3915

District 4 Updates – September 20, 2014

Next Meeting of Fort Dorchester Residential Association

Wednesday, October 8, 7 p.m. Wescott Park Community Center

Dorchester County Councilmen Larry Hargett and George Bailey will be principal speakers. We have been working closely with the County to redefine road maintenance and general drainage projects. Most District 4 constituents reside in Dorchester County and we rely on certain Dorchester services.  Councilmen Hargett and Bailey are veterans in county government and they have been trying to help us with road and drainage projects. This forum is of timely interest and I hope to see you there. Please invite your neighbors.

ASSISTED LIVING CENTER – WESCOTT CIRCLE – This project plan will receive final approval Thursday night by City Council.  In first reading and during the public hearing last week, the developers were complimented for having agreed to a public meeting before submitting their plans, AND for responding to the concerns expressed by residents.  Actually, the community residents who participated in the July 28 public meeting are to be applauded, too. It was another excellent example of constructive dialogue that makes a difference. The developers’ most notable change was to reduce the main building’s height to three floors.  Construction should begin in the Spring of 2015. In the meanwhile, pedestrian crossings are now in place at the traffic circle and the city will soon install new lane markings and caution signs. The City will continue to look for ways to make this traffic circle and intersection work better.

NO NEW GASOLINE STATIONS!  – That’s an assurance of current zoning ordinances governing the Dorchester overlay district. But what about existing stations, those with outdated operations and “tired” looks?  City Council will soon approve ordinance amendments to allow existing stations to “remodel” within existing property footprints. Whenever this happens, the stations will be required to bring the entire property to 2014 zoning and overlay district standards with emphasis on buffering and landscaping.  The Shell station/convenience store at Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester will likely be the first property to apply for a remodeling project under this amendment. We have not heard from the Hess station operators at Club Course and Dorchester.  As I reported to you previously, an informal request for a fuel service island at the Corner at Wescott was rejected summarily. (The Sunoco operation at Patriot and Ashley Phosphate is closed while a larger annex building is constructed and the interior of its convenience store is rearranged. This is no doubt in response to that massive Spinx Station soon to open across Dorchester Road.)

Compensation: Mayor and City Council –   Mayor Summey isbasically the chief executive of our city’s $105 million operation. He also is a member of the 11- person City Council.  Every four years, Council considers compensation levels for the mayor and city council members with any changes to be effective upon the following election – January 2016.  On Thursday, Council will consider a Finance Committee report recommending an increase in the mayor’s annual salary from $148,905 to $176,255, and Council members’ annual compensation from   $15,965 to $18,779.  The Finance Committee voted unanimously last week for the mayor’s salary proposal.   The Committee approved the council compensation increase on a 6-5 vote and after a spirited debate.  I voted against this and so did Councilmen Stigler and Astle.  I shall vote against it again Thursday evening. 

The Patriot Boulevard “Hairpin” and Sunrise Development-

I continue to work with D.R. Horton representatives hoping to convince them to update and upgrade their 2008 plans for 78 condominium townhomes around the ‘hairpin’.  This plan –“Sunrise”- actually stands approved and the developer could proceed any day. But the basic point of implementing a project planned six years ago in a community that has changed notably over that time is troubling. To its credit, D.R. Horton reps are responding to these concerns.  Among the “updates” and “upgrades” we hope for – altering the “condominium” format to “fee simple” ownership, streets that meet city standards, and upgrading exterior materials and driveway parking. We will not compromise on the 50-foot rear buffer or any other wetlands protections.  Mayor Summey has been helping with this process.  Hope to have some news soon.

But …..look for the ‘hairpin’ correction project to begin early in 2015. Mayor Summey has given this long considered project priority status. The work will bring a smoother and safer curve with a 35-mph “rating.”  This is not the beginning of widening this section of Patriot Drive.  While widening is a longer range plan, I don’t see how that project can begin for at least another five to seven years, given current funding realities.

Our CITY is alive with so many activities – from cultural arts to recreational programs for children, adults — and us senior citizens.  Check in regularly with the city’s interactive web site www.northcharleston.org

And contact me whenever I can help or answer your questions about city services.

And please share this newsletter with your neighbors and I’ll be glad to add them to the circulation list. They need only contact me at rbrin@aol.com 

August 27, 2014That long vacant building in front of Walmart on Dorchester Road is about to become a “Triangle Char and Bar.”  This will be the third restaurant in the Charleston-based chain. Opening is targeted for late September. Check it out at   http://trianglecharandbar.com/Café Craft is another new bar-restaurant, located at the Village at Coosaw Creek – corner of Dorchester and Club Course. It features small plates and a revolving menu of craft beers from many locations. http://www.beermenus.com/places/16828-cafe-craftRoad Projects UpdatesFuture Drive & Northside Drive Extension – This major road project is moving toward its final stages. It connects Highway 78 to Ashley Phosphate and creates a traffic artery for the 1,800- acre Ingleside Plantation planned development.  A long term feature would connect this new roadway to Patriot Boulevard, somewhere near the Joe Pye Elementary School. You can check out the project’s scope and dimensions and its status at

http://roads.charlestoncounty.org/projects/futuredriveloop/

A separate but functionally related project is the Palmetto Commerce Interchange which is progressing through initial conceptual planning phases. This would create a new interchange at Interstate 26 and Future Drive/Northside Drive, providing a direct access connector to Interstate 26 from Palmetto Commerce Parkway. Construction is projected to begin in November 2016 and to be completed in late 2018.  That is dependent on the very large issue of funding.

You can check out this project athttp://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/tst/pci.htm

Charleston County also is developing “PCP Phase 3” conceptual plans for taking Palmetto Commerce Parkway over Ashley Phosphate with an ultimate connection at or near the Boeing campus.  The options include some that would heavily impact several older neighborhoods east of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. You can read about this project phase athttp://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/tst/pci.htm

Or you can attend the first public meeting on

PCP Phase 3 planning options -6 p.m. Tuesday, September 10,

At Stall High School, 3625 Ashley Phosphate Rd

The Ladson at Palmetto Commerce Parkway intersection is an afternoon traffic nightmare. Charleston County Council this week approved a construction project that will add a right turn lane and increase capacities of the others. This project should be completed within 90 days.

Artist-In-Residence

Our City’s Cultural Arts Department has appointed mixed media artist Alexandra Roberts as Artist-in-Residence for 2014/15.  The City’s Artist-in-Residence serves as a key resource for the department’s outreach programs, especially in the area of art instruction. The selected artist shares his/her unique skills, talents, and experiences by providing services to senior groups, public schools, group homes, and various other groups within the city limits of North Charleston. Alexandra Roberts will instruct at North Charleston schools and is available for workshops for community groups of all ages.

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MISC…

Be sure to check in at www.Northcharleston.org for information on all activities. Let me know whenever you have questions – or counsel — about any aspect of city government or services. You can monitor recent crime reports at   http://www.northcharleston.org/Residents/Police/Crime-Stats.aspx

And please tell your neighbors that I’d be pleased to include them in the circulation of this little newsletter. They should contact me at rbrin@aol.com and simply share their e mail address.