Charleston City Council gives initial approval to James Island development moratorium

Charleston City Council passed first reading Tuesday of a six-month moratorium on non-residential development on James Island. (Dan Michener/WCIV)

New developments on James Island are getting close to a stop sign.

Charleston's City Council unanimously approved first reading Tuesday night of an ordinance placing a temporary moratorium on new non-residential developments in James Island. Mayor John Tecklenburg proposed the moratorium.

If approved, James Island would stop accepting applications for developments in non-residential areas for six months. Specifically, the moratorium would affect residential buildings with more than four units per acre, and commercial buildings larger than 1,500 square feet.

In March, a group of concerned James Island residents organized under the name "Save James Island" pushed the city to do something to help balance the town's booming population and growth with quality of life.

"Save James Island" supporters were there again Tuesday, but some in the group feel the moratorium doesn't go far enough.

One man said there needs to be a provision in the ordinance for adding infrastructure before approving new developments, while another asked for a longer two-year moratorium. Others said the moratorium should go beyond non-residential zoned spaces.

James Island Mayor Bill Woolsey says the moratorium is a step in the right direction, as much of the area at the focus of development debate falls under the city's zoning jurisdiction.

Mayor Woolsey says James Island will also need the help of Charleston County Council in order to make progress in efforts to manage growth.

"I certainly hope it passes." Woolsey said. "I think it can be extended if that's necessary, but six months is at least enough time to get started on where do we go forward in terms of what we are going to do."

Mayor Woolsey says work on future zoning changes will be the focus of a James Island intergovernmental council meeting next week.

The ordinance now awaits a second reading approval from council before taking effect.

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