Berkeley County has been one of the fastest growing areas of the country for several years. The rapid growth in the county has caused some growing pains, including clogged roads due to traffic, overcrowded schools, and infrastructure that is lagging behind recent development, including water and sewer systems.
County Councilman Caldwell Pinckney told the Post & Courier recently that “it is my duty, as well as the rest of council’s to make sure that the quality of life of those we represent, the taxpayers, is not hampered due to poor planning or whatever the case might be. We know that right now, the cart is definitely in front of the horse when it comes to infrastructure in Berkeley County.”
Berkeley County has been a big draw in the last few years as thousands of people move into the county to take advantage of affordable housing prices compared to Charleston County, and new job opportunities. In a one year period, beginning in the mid-2015, the number of people who moved to the area grew by 8,000 boosting the population to over 210,000.
County Councilman Jack Schurlknight echoed Councilman Pinckney’s concerns about the crisis in infrastructure for the area. “We’re growing so fast and trying to keep up with it,” he told the Post & Courier. County Council members have delayed some recent requests by developers for rezoning of properties to build residential homes, requesting further details about traffic patterns and the development of roadways and infrastructure to keep up with the influx of new residents. These actions will enable the area to have more controlled growth.
The County Council approved three mega developments more than a decade ago near the intersections of US highways 17A and 176. Cane Bay, Nexton, and Carnes Crossroads may one day have as many residents as the town of Mount Pleasant with an additional 75,000 people.
Berkeley County has also seen nearly $1.5 billion in economic development investments and nearly 5000 new jobs. Volvo recently announced it is doubling its investment in the area to $1 billion and 2,500 additional jobs. The $500 million manufacturing plant is scheduled to open next summer with 2,000 employees.
The new homes and businesses will add tax revenue to fund the county’s water and sewer and emergency services, but not the development of new roads. “The can has been kicked down the road long enough,” said Councilman Schurlknight. “We need solutions from the state and federal level.”
Source: Post & Courier, “Growth in the fast lane: Can Berkeley catch up?” by Brenda Rindge, October 1, 2017
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