Vision Plan gets mixed views at public hearing

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Monica Kreber/Journal Scene Resident Peter Gorman takes the podium to address the Planning Commission about the potential 880 housing units that are mentioned in Summerville's Vision Plan.

Fourteen people voiced their opinions about Summerville’s Vision Plan during the public hearing June 16.

People covered different topics in the vision plan – from the possible 880 housing units to one day appear in the downtown area, to probable traffic, to getting a civic center. Some took the podium to say they supported parts of the plan.

Resident Peter Gorman with the East Historic District Civic Association took the floor first to speak on behalf of 100 homeowners residing in Summerville’s eastern side of the Historic District. Gorman touched on the 880 housing units proposed by the Vision Plan, calling it a “magnitude of development.” Gorman expressed concerns over the traffic this possible project would bring, and how the town plans to pay for it.

“We urge you to vote today to delay adoption and give us all a cooling-off period to enable us to look at the elements and impacts more closely,” Gorman said to the Planning Commission. “The Plan affects just about every resident of Summerville.”

Part of the Vision Plan includes the possibility of a civic center for conventions or weddings. Resident Betty Settle, who has been a Summerville resident for 46 years, took the podium to discuss the priorities of the Vision Plan because she feels a new civic/community center would be an “economic engine” for the town.

“There is a rising awareness around the country that accessibility to the arts elevates our communities’ quality of life,” she said, adding such a center could be used for business gatherings, class reunions and more. “We do need profound cooperation between the creative community, local government, funding entities and the business community. Success will only come when everyone works together and takes responsibility to pull all the components together.”

Resident Deb Campeau took the opportunity during the public hearing to address concerns people have had over the Vision Plan.

“I think what we need to keep in mind is that this is a vision plan,” she said. “How many plans do we have in our city, in our businesses, that everything about them happens? It gives us a framework, it gives us a road map. It doesn’t mean that it happens exactly like it was mapped out. This is a long-term look at what we want to be aiming towards in our community.”

Resident William Harbison expressed concerns over not just the 880 housing units and the traffic that would accompany that project, but the amount of noise it would bring.

“What about the noise you’re going to create? The traffic?” he asked the Planning Commission. “These are problems that are coming up.”

Diane Frankenberger said she feels parts of the Vision Plan have potential to make positive changes to Summerville.

“Everything changes and you can’t stop it,” she said. “If you’re not growing you’re dying. But you can manage growth.”

The Vision Plan includes 10 key projects, such as redeveloping Hutchinson Square, improving pedestrian crossings on Dorchester Road and completing the Sawmill Branch Trail. Frankenberger said she thinks the 10 key projects will be good for Summerville.

“All of these things, without exception, benefit the whole of the downtown,” she said. “There’s not one place that was named that won’t benefit from this.”

After hearing all the comments, members of the Planning Commission agreed all the problems people brought up need to examined. They voted to request to amend the Town’s current Comprehensive Plan with the prepared Vision Plan as an update.

Town Council members will vote on the Vision Plan again at their July 9 meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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