A 593-unit residential development off Six Mile Road has cleared the first step in a three-part town approval process.
The 200-acre project was given the green light Wednesday by the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission in a 6-2 vote. Now the project goes to the Town Council Planning Committee and then to the full council for a vote.
If all goes to plan, work on the marsh-front development could begin by the end of 2012, according to development plans presented to the town.
Oyster Point will utitlize a first-of-its-kind Conservation Landscape District zoning that allows homes to be built closely together so long as developers preserve 25 percent of the property for natural and historical elements. D.R. Horton Homes will build the project.
Though commissioners gave Oyster Point approval, there were plenty of reservations from residents and the town's planning body.
"I don't think this plan is a bad plan," said Commissioner Bob Brimmer. "It's just in the wrong place."
Brimmer's view was echoed by residents who said Rifle Range and Six Mile roads are already congested. The estimated 4,000 additional daily trips in and out of Oyster Point will only increase those problems, they said.
Commissioners Nick Collins, Alice Ann Lehrman, Henry Middleton, Howard Chapman, Todd Richardson and Chairman Roy Neal voted for the project. Bob Brimmer and Phil Siegrist voted no. Cheryl Woods-Flowers was absent.
"We can't get out as it is," said Peter Bernard, who lives in neighboring Ravens Run. "I have to make all my appointments at off-peak hours, just so I can get out into traffic."
Oyster Point's developer plans to add turn lanes from Rifle Range Road onto Six Mile Road. The developer is open to the idea of funding a roundabout there, if residents want it, though previous such proposals have been rejected by residents.
The town's traffic engineer scores the intersection of Rifle Range and Six Mile roads as a "D" during peak times, which is acceptable by town guidelines. He estimates ongoing improvements to U.S. 17 will eleviate much of the congestion currently experienced.
Ultimately, the planning commission had few options besides approving the project's conceptual plan and annexing the property into the town. The development has already been approved by the county, so developers could start work in short order, even without town approval.
Though Oyster Point needs city water and sewer services, the town would likely be forced to provide those even if they chose not to annex the property. And the town stands to gain millions in fees and tax revenue from Oyster Point.
"We followed the letter of the ordinance in creating 25 percent open space and a very walkable community with greenspace that runs through it," said Kenny Seamon, president of Seamon Whitesides and Associates, the project's planner.
"The traffic, as long as it meets the level of services that the town sets its standars at, I think we've done our jobs."