Ashley River Historic Overlay District
On November 2, 2015, Dorchester County Council’s Planning, Development and Building Committee voted against second reading of the ordinance to remove Districts 3 & 4 from the Historic Overlay. They took this to full Council where it passed unanimously with no discussion. You can read the meeting minutes here. Thank you, Dorchester County and all of our supporters and partners – the Ashley River Historic District depends on people like you to protect its heritage, beauty, and resources!
Dorchester County Planning Commission is now considering changes that tighten regulations for future commercial development near the district. These changes will be addressed at an upcoming Planning Commission workshop and we need your help again to ensure that the standards for commercial development are in character with the historic district. Stay tuned for the release of the workshop date.
About the Project
Dorchester County Council considered a proposal that would eliminate large portions of the Ashley River Historic Overlay (ARHO) District – and remove many of the safeguards that protect this important area from unbridled growth and development.
For more than 300 years, the scenic Ashley River Historic District has been, and continues to be, of critical importance in the history, quality of life, and economic well-being of Dorchester County and South Carolina as a whole. In 2007 Dorchester County Council, in the face of tremendous residential and commercial growth pressures, adopted an ordinance that created the Ashley River Historic Overlay (ARHO) District, with the intent of promoting responsible development and mitigating the effects of new construction within the district.
These protections were created in an effort to preserve this area for future generations, with the primary goals of:
- Safeguarding the local heritage, natural beauty, and economic and recreational resources;
- Conserving wildlife habitat; and
- Protecting water quality and marine nursery resources
However, on July 6, Councilman Bill Hearn, Jr. introduced an amendment that would redraw the lines of the Ashley River Historic Overlay District, eliminating Districts 3 and 4 in their entirety (see map below). Under this proposal, these areas would revert to Absence of Control zoning, which could pave the way for substantial increases in residential and commercial development in this pristine rural area.
Dorchester County Planning Commission held a workshop on Thursday, August 13 to discuss what recommendation they would present to County Council. The meeting was well attended, and nine League supporters spoke in opposition of the proposed amendment – no one spoke in favor of it. Although they had a good conversation, the commissioners were unable to reach a decision at the workshop and they decided to continue the conversation at a second workshop following the regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, September 10. The Planning Commission made a recommendation to leave the overlay district intact. The issue was then passed to the County’s Planning, Development and Building Committee, and then to full Council.
As a follow up to the August and September workshops, Dorchester County Council’s Planning, Development and Building Committee held a public hearing on this proposal on Monday, November 2, 2015, at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Human Services Building, 500 North Main Street (use Cedar Street entrance), in Summerville. More information can be found on the event page here. At this meeting, the Committee voted against second reading of the ordinance to remove Districts 3 & 4 from the Historic Overlay. They took this to full Council where it passed unanimously with no discussion.