Zoning ordinance discussed at City Hall open house

The city of Mount Pleasant considered changes to the Zoning Ordinance to allow for redevelopment of residential areas at an open house at Mount Pleasant City Hall, 320 W. Broadway, Thursday.

A potential amendment to the Zoning Ordinance is being considered relating to rehabilitation and redevelopment of housing in the area on either side of South Washington Street and South Main Street between Bellows and High Streets.

"This particular project is looking at a zone within one of the city's zoning districts that is primarily multiple family," said Bill Mrdeza, the director of community services for the city of Mount Pleasant.

Mrdeza said this area is predominantly populated with room and board housing as well as fraternity houses.

The city is taking a closer examination as to whether the current implementation of the Zoning Ordinance is functioning optimally.

"What we're trying to do is to look at how the current way of allowing those properties to be redeveloped, if that's working or not, and if there's some opportunity either to tweak the process and to incorporate procedures that we're currently employing into our zoning ordinance," Mrdeza said. "Right now there's a set of procedures that the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals follow when considering a project for redevelopment."

He said there has not been much feedback from Mount Pleasant community residents.

"We haven't had a lot of resident concerns," he said. "There's been a few, but in terms of the population of the city as a whole, it's been pretty low."

Doug Piggott from Rowe Professional services, a consulting company, was brought in to help oversee the progression of the project. Piggott said he must present his report to the Planning Commission on the first Thursday in April.

"Assuming the Planning Commission selects one of those alternatives and says we want to move forward, then they would be able to initiate a rezoning and schedule a public hearing for May," Piggott said.

He said if after the public hearing is held, if everything lines up and they were comfortable with the language presented and discussed, they could move it forward to the City Commission to adopt it either at the end of May or the beginning of June.

Joe Olivieri has been a developer in the city of Mount Pleasant for 37 years. He has done 15 of the places on Main Street and Washington Street, and more to do this summer.

"The problem with these properties in the area they're talking about is that a hundred years ago they were built as single-family homes,"  Olivieri said. "Then over time, as the university grew, the students started moving into them and renting them so you got a single-family home with five people that now has nine people living in it."

There are a number of problems that are created when this happens, Olivieri said.

"The problems that are created by this are inadequate parking, inadequate trash facilities, which are two of the main complaints that arise from these situations," he said. "So when we redevelop these properties those are the first two things we clear up."

Kathy Ling, former Mount Pleasant mayor and Commission member since 2008, thinks these types of open houses are vital for everyone in the community.

"I think it is important for both the developers who are developing the student housing in the area as well as the residents in the residential areas that are near there to have an opportunity to see what's happening and to express their opinions," she said.


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