Two Ansonborough properties, including the former location of The Veggie Bin, were rezoned from general business units to possible sites for affordable housing at a Wednesday afternoon meeting of the city's Planning Commission.
10 Society St. and two vacant parcels adjacent to it, along with 32 Laurens St. and one vacant parcel, were granted the rezoning at the request of Tennessee-based developer Southern Land Company.
Charleston Planning Division director Christopher Morgan vouched for the changes by noting the need for more housing on the peninsula. He presented studies by the division which showed an 11 percent decrease in day traffic and a 35 percent decrease in parking spaces if the zoning were to be converted for residential purposes.
Shane White, Vice President of Planning and Urban Design at Southern Land Company, said necessary talks with the community have lengthened a process that began in November 2016.
Representatives from the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Coastal Conservation League, the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, and an attorney for the current owners of the properties all expressed their approval at the meeting.
Commission member Terry Seabrook questioned whether the developer was committed to using the properties for workforce housing, a classification that, according to the city
, is meant to "promote the development of housing for working families and individuals that are employed in professions that are integral to a community’s success."
Member Harry Lesesne emphasized that if the zoning was not changed, the city would see neither workforce units nor the $5.10 per-square-foot opt-out fee
. The penalty is required if developers opt out of offering below-market rents on 20 percent of their units for 25 years, with the collected fees going to support the city's affordable housing options.
Fred Turco, an Ansonborough resident, remained concerned of the effects the rezoning would have on traffic as well as on the livelihood of the owners of East Bay True Value Hardware, which is located right next to the former Veggie Bin locale.
"Those people are very worried about their future because they think once that goes up, they won’t be able to survive," Turco said.
The requests were approved unanimously. City Council, the Technical Review Committee, and the Board of Architectural Review still have to look over the plans before any construction starts.
Southern Land Company, which is working in partnership with LS3P, has a property in development on the corner of Meeting and Calhoun streets.
Commission member Chris Fraser recused himself from the vote.