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City's development plan to be revised

"Imagine Charleston," Charleston's new, comprehensive urban development plan, will be revised and ready for submission to city council within the next few months.

Wednesday, the city's planning department discussed the proposal with the Charleston Planning Commission, a citizen committee authorized by city council.

Ultimately, the comprehensive plan will become the city's official guide to moving forward with development and projects in the city.

Since the plan was first released to the public in June, the planning department has been revising it and, in part, taking into consideration public comments made about the concept during a 30-day comment period.

Once the plan is finalized within the next 45 days, the city planning department will present the proposal to the Municipal Planning Commission, which will decide whether to recommend it be adopted. Then, it must receive an affirmative vote by the Planning Committee, which is made of city council members. The Charleston City Council will have the final vote on the plan before it becomes law.

The last time the city updated its comprehensive plan was in 1996. That proposal was a booklet of more than 200 pages of text, with a few graphs. Vriendt said that by the time he started working for the city in 1999, the idea was essentially forgotten.

"We really don't want to repeat those past mistakes," he said.

The new comprehensive plan is much more visual-oriented, with numerous graphics and renditions of proposed projects.

"This is the first time we've branded one of our planning processes," he said.

Vriendt said the grand design incorporates recent changes in how land in the city is being used and how future zoning should reflect those changes. He said a comprehensive rezoning of the city is part of the plan.

"It's less about what uses are next to each other and more about the character of the neighborhood," he said.

Columbus, Ohio-based consulting firm MKSK, over a period of several months, developed the concept. Research for the project included public meetings and input sessions where resident could comment on issues they saw in the city and their vision for the community.

"The amazing thing about all these meetings we attended was a cross-section of not only age, but location," said Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, who is a member of the commission.

The planning commission will hold a special meeting to discuss the plan. A date has not yet been set.

In other business, the commission approved the change in zoning of a property located at 933 Oakhurst Drive, near Corridor G. Property owner John Walls requested the change from the current R-8 (high-density residential district) to R-O (residential office district).

The difference will allow the property to be used for some offices, like medical offices, to be built on the lot in addition to single or multi-family residences.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at or 304-348-4817.


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