Mount Pleasant: How big is too big?

(Dave MacQueen/WCIV)


MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) - They are a small sample of a growing population east of the Cooper River. They represent the town's past, present and future.

They run in different circles, but there is a common thread. They have watched the town grow up and out, right before their eyes.

Mt. Pleasant's motto is certainly appropriate. It means 'We Grow'. And boy has it ever.

Ninety-seven-year-old Mary McConnell has rung up business at AB McConnells General Store since 1939.

"I remember when it was dirt roads, there were real deep dirt ruts. Have you{}ever gone in a real country road ? Down in Texas, did you have any real dirt roads?" asked McConnell

Those dirt roads off Highway 17 are now six lanes of congestion - just feet from her business -{} just feet from where gas pumps once stood..

"I wouldn't want to get out there and drive. I don't know about your driving but it looks pretty much like a hassle," said McConnell as she watched traffic zoom past her business.

Up Highway 17, north of AB McCconnells, to the edge of to

"We are the last subdivision in the town of Mt. Pleasant." said Cynthia Hutchinson as she sits and waves at drivers going past her home.

"It was a two-lane highway. One lane coming and one lane going," Hutchinson remembers.

Hutchinson grew up in this house. She has had{}a front porch view for 50 years as the town pushed the stakes of development farther and farther north.

"When I think about Mt. Pleasant or hear of Mt. Pleasant I think about the sleepy town it used to be, but we are wide awake now," Hutchinson says with a laugh.

What pushed growth east of the Cooper ? Giving it a green light.

Cherryl Woods-Flower served as the towns mayor from 1992 to 2000. She now drives its roads as a real estate agent.

"When it was constructed in the late 196os, the new bridge, that was really the beginning of the impetus to move east of the Cooper. It gave the town a second corridor," she said.

"You{}can't put the genie back in the bottle but you can control how it happens," said Woods-Flowers.

"Welcome to Pages. We appreciate you all coming," said Linda Page from behind her desk at her store, Page's Thieves Market.

And come they have, and it's the sole reason why Page ran and won a spot on town council.

"People ask me all the time, 'Don't we have enough?' But when you live in paradise, everyone wants to come," said Page.

The American dream, not only to live in paradise but to sell pieces of it. It has become a developer's dreamscape.

"If I owned a piece of property, I certainly would be very dismayed if someone said we have enough - your piece of property, (we) just need to make it a park. It's not going to work. It's not going to work very well," said Page.

The man responsible for making it work is Town Administrator Eric Demoura..

"It is the dominant issue in Mt. Pleasant," said Demoura, referring to development.

And it is impossible to ignore. North of town, in Carolina Park, land is being cleared and the first of what will be 1,600 housing units have sprouted near Wando High School.

At the other end of town, Coleman Boulevard and The Boulevard, a new multi-use development, a new way to live and to build is being constructed. Instead of spreading out, Demoura wants to build up.

"We have to take care of the urban core - develop the density that taller buildings -{} the things you need to accommodate more people and businesses," said Demoura.

Growth is here and it's not going anywhere. Improving infrastructure will be as common as the for sale signs that line Highway 17.

But Mary McConnell just lets it ride. That's because behind one of the town's oldest businesses, one of its oldest residents held onto a little slice of country, and she has no plans of slamming the door on it - cresco or not..

As for the traffic, all those barrels and cones will be pulled and all lanes of traffic from the Ravenel Bridge to Wando High school will be clear by the end of November.