By Marc Knapp
Probably the most important item on the agenda for the Charleston City Council’s Feb. 9 meeting was the first reading of an update and amendment to the city comprehensive master plan.
There was little discussion of the matter and only Councilman William Dudley Gregorie voted against it. The amendment was subject to a public hearing late last year.
The Charleston Post and Courier ran a recent article about some of the items that had been changed since the public hearing. It noted:
- Entire sections dealing with energy use and sustainability had been deleted;
- Land use maps no longer showed the proposed Sea Island Greenway across Johns Island;
- A proposal to allow accessory dwelling units – a second smaller residence on some properties – in many areas of the city, was deleted;
- Recommendations to encourage the use of native plant species, more trees, the protection of farm quality soils and measures to reduce storm water runoff were added; and
- A goal of having a park and a bike path within half a mile of each residence was added.
Councilman Aubry Alexander noted his concern about the text relating to homelessness in the update and hoped this would not lead to Charleston being a destination city for the homeless, as has happened in Fresno, Calif.
Gregorie noted that any approach would be over the long term and on a regional basis.
The Post and Courier noted that he voted against the amendment because of the elimination of the sustainability chapter, with no attempt to address education policies.
Other items discussed included:
- A recommendation by the Traffic and Transportation Committee to introduce a single-taxi tariff for transport on the peninsula – a flat fare of $5 with an increase of $1 for every extra person. So three people riding from city hall to MUSC, say, would be charged a total of $7. Meters would not be used. There will be a public hearing before city council makes a decision; and
- Counsel for the city, Charlton deSaussure, told members that Mayor Joe Riley had not transgressed procedure rules when he interrupted a debate to make a clarification. Gregorie sought counsel’s opinion at a meeting last month. DeSaussure noted that procedure at council meetings was governed by city ordinances. Although Roberts Rules also apply, they were subordinate to those of the council.
Yes, it was a lengthy explanation and, while no reflection on deSaussure, it was difficult to follow. But suffice to say, Gregorie said he was happy with the explanation. Councilman Timothy Mallard had no comment on the issue.