In The Zoning: New Clements Ferry Road concrete plant highlights growing pains as residential and industrial land uses coexist
Although construction is complete and the orange barrels have cleared along Clements Ferry Road, growing pains can still be felt in the area. The mix of zoning — with residential, commercial, and heavy industrial side by side — is often a contributing factor to the inevitable challenges that will arise amid a changing landscape.
In this particular instance, three main parties are involved — Beresford Creek Landing, a small neighborhood, zoned residential, located off Beresford Run; the property located at 2637 Clements Ferry Road, zoned heavy industrial, and the site of a recently approved concrete plant facility; and Berkeley County officials.
The recent history of the property in question dates back to 1999, when a permit to build a communication tower was issued. Several businesses are located on the property today, and at one time it housed a paintball facility. Two years ago, plans for a Pilot/Flying J Travel Center truck stop were submitted but later withdrawn. Residents from Beresford Creek Landing expressed concerns over safety and truck traffic.
At the same time that the truck stop plans were facing scrutiny in 2018, the property owners received a violation for unpermitted land disturbance relating to “impacts to wetlands and the mounds of dirt (berms) that have been established without proper authorizations or sediment and erosion control,” according to county records. The property was inspected, and after proper requirements were met, the issue was resolved.
In September 2019, the Berkeley County Planning and Zoning Department and the Engineering/Stormwater Department approved plans for Capital Concrete that include a concrete batch plant consisting of a 600-square-foot office, storage bins, and parking.
Other plans submitted in October 2019 that are still under review involve relocating trailers and buildings (totaling 2,524 square feet) from the front portion of the property further into the interior, along with paved parking for offices.
The activity at the recently constructed concrete plant is in plain view for residents of Beresford Creek Landing who pass the property every time they travel along the small street that leads directly from their community to Clements Ferry Road.
On a stroll down that street, Beresford Run, with Christina Gregory — Beresford Creek Landing resident and newly elected HOA board member in charge of public communication — she pointed out the new concrete plant tower visible through the vegetation buffer. The quiet road, with a 25 mph speed limit and flanked mostly by greenery on both sides, serves as the entryway to the community that has only 150 homes, many of which back up to the marsh. Home prices on Zillow are listed between $500,000 and $1 million.
Gregory said residents were aware of the zoning in the nearby property when they moved in. But between the proposed Flying J, the site violations, discussions to build a fence the length of the property that never panned out, and now the building of the concrete plant, many in the neighborhood feel like they haven’t had a voice in the process as far as making their concerns heard and getting answers from local officials.
Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb said he understands the changing landscape along the Clements Ferry corridor and the complexity it presents. “You have industrial next to residential, and its’s very much in a transition period,” he acknowledged.
Berkeley County Public Information Officer Hannah Moldenhauer said, “The site has been zoned for heavy industrial uses since the mid-1990s. As such, the property owner is within his/her rights to pursue and receive entitlements through the county’s Planning and Zoning Department. As long as the plans meet the applicable county rules and regulations, they are allowed by right and do not require any additional authorization from county leaders.”
At a meeting that was held on Oct. 1, 2019, more than 70 members of the community met with County Supervisor Cribb, County Councilman Josh Whitley, County Attorney John Williams, and Deputy County Supervisor Les Blankenship.
According to a statement that the Beresford Creek Landing HOA board sent to The Daniel Island News, “The purpose of this meeting was to address traffic concerns and rumors of a concrete plant in the area. At that time, county leadership communicated that no plans had been submitted for a concrete plant but if plans were submitted, a comprehensive safety, traffic, and environmental analysis would be completed prior to issuance of any permits,” the board wrote. “Recently, the community has learned that the concrete plant was permitted by Berkeley County on September 16, 2019, two weeks before our meeting with county leadership. At this time there are still unanswered questions surrounding safety, noise, traffic, and air quality that negatively impact residents on Daniel Island and along the Clements Ferry corridor.”
Discussions between county officials and the neighborhood had been cordial, until late December and early January when some residents turned to social media to vent frustration about the concrete plant. This, in turn, frustrated some county leaders, and led to a bit of a breakdown in communication on both sides.
In an effort to work with the county and move forward with issues surrounding the property and the concrete plant — such as building a proper barrier and addressing traffic needs — Beresford Creek Landing elected some new board members, including Gregory, at a neighborhood meeting on Jan. 15. She said she hopes to “reset” the dialogue with county officials and re-establish fresh lines of communication.
The HOA board also said, “We are hopeful that transparent discussion with our elected officials will ensure the best interests of residents and businesses alike. Our community recognizes that growth is a fact of life in the area, but we also believe that a comprehensive and transparent approach is key toward the harmonious future of Daniel Island, Cainhoy, and the Clements Ferry corridor.”
Cribb expressed similar sentiments, emphasizing the county’s continued efforts to work with the neighborhood. “Where we’re in full cooperation and agreement with the community is making sure that heavy industrial traffic doesn’t infringe upon that residential road,” he said.
The next issue that will require input from all sides involves a new traffic light on Clements Ferry Road. “From our initial meeting with the city of Charleston and our meeting with the community, we have been having discussions about where to locate that traffic light,” Cribb said.
County Councilman Whitley, who represents this portion of Clements Ferry also said: “I do not support industrial traffic on a residential street.”
The City of Charleston has communicated their desire for Beresford Run to be the specific location of a traffic light due to the planned location of a fire station that would be aided by a signal, according to Cribb. The SC Department of Transportation required the city to work with the county to develop an agreement about the location of the light.
“This is not something that is typical for SCDOT as specific traffic conditions typically dictate the location of traffic signals,” Cribb wrote in an email to Beresford Creek Landing resident Katharine Langland.
Initially the neighborhood wanted to have the light at Beresford Run, but if the light results in more industrial traffic along residential roads, then that is a scenario that county officials and residents both wish to avoid.
Cribb said the county will be meeting with the city in the coming weeks to work on a formal agreement about the location of the new traffic light. The county is concerned about creating cross-access points for neighboring residential communities to have access to the light, as well as the safety and the wellbeing of residents across the entire region they represent.
In terms of where to put the light and creating future traffic patterns that help connect communities, Cribb said, “We’re trying to look out for everyone and trying to do what’s smart.”