Substantial changes regarding residential density were made to the Town's zoning code along Coleman Blvd., Johnnie Dodds Blvd. and elsewhere by the adoption of the UC-OD. While Mt. Pleasant’s own Comprehensive Plan defines high-density residential development as up to nine units/acre (for reference, the effective density of I’On is 3.8 units/acre), the zoning along Coleman Blvd. was changed in 2006 to allow for up to 16 units/acre in an effort to “revitalize” the area. Then in 2011, the UC-OD ordinance was put in place, and a look at its language shows that maximum residential density was increased to 20 units/acre – despite the fact that the established neighborhoods bordering Coleman Blvd. have densities of about 2 to 3 units to the acre.
However, just as is the case with building heights, the devil is in the details of the UC-OD when it comes to residential density. Whereas a cursory glance at the UC-OD code may show the max density to be 20 units/acre, it turns out there are a set of four incentives listed elsewher in the code, such as reducing the number of curb cuts and including a token amount of open space, for example, that allow developers to greatly increase the residential density on their projects. For each of the four incentives that are met, a project may increase its density by 4 units/acre – and if all four incentives are met on a project, then there is NO LIMIT TO RESIDENTIAL DENSITY for the project. Apparently it’s not too difficult to meet all four criteria as all three multifamily projects on Coleman Blvd. that have either been built or approved under the UC-OD have qualified for unlimited residential density.
The green rectangle in the figure represents the area of Old Mt. Pleasant that amounts to 579 units, which is the same amount of units proposed across Ben Sawyer Blvd. in those yellow boxes representing the "Oyster Park" and "Atlantic" projects.
Coleman Boulevard by The Post and Courier
The Boulevard project (430 units) has well over 50 units/acre, as do the plans for the Oyster Park apartments (269 units) in the Bi-Lo shopping center on Ben Sawyer Blvd. The plans for The Atlantic (310 units) at the old TV station property on the marsh by the Ben Sawyer causeway check in at about 38 units/acre. Why is it that the Town's leaders believe the new large-scale mixed use project on the “Johnson Tract” on Johnnie Dodds Blvd. across from Towne Centre should be limited to 12 residential units/acre, in part to be sensitive to the neighboring established communities, yet residents off of Coleman Blvd. must be subjected to new developments with densities four and five times greater than that?