The Purpose

A comprehensive plan provides a clearly-stated vision that describes the future of the community. It respects property rights and also encourages and supports economic development. The plan inventories the City’s existing conditions and amenities and assesses their functionality and relationship to one another (Appendix A). This inventory enables the City to take stock of where it is today (strengths and weaknesses) and where it wants to go (opportunities and challenges).

The basis for the comprehensive planning process is in the SC Local Government Comprehensive Planning Enabling Act of 1994 (SC Code §6-29-310 through 6-29-1200), which repealed and replaced all existing state statutes authorizing municipal planning and zoning. The 1994 Act establishes the comprehensive plan as the first step of the planning process and mandates that the plan be systematically evaluated and updated. Elements of the plan must be reevaluated at least once every five years, and the entire plan must be updated at least every 10 years. North Charleston spans three counties and both sides of the Ashley River, ranging from neighborhoods established prior to the Civil War to 20th century suburban subdivisions and 21st century mixed-use communities. As one of its leaders aptly described it, North Charleston’s story is a “tale of two cities”, with older, urbanizing areas and growing suburbs.

It is a city traversed by corridors that accommodate thousands of commuters (residents and nonresidents) moving between homes and employment centers throughout the City. Since North Charleston’s last complete plan update in 2008, the City has further capitalized on its role as an employment and manufacturing hub within the region.

Several large manufacturing facilities, notably Boeing SC and Mercedes Benz, established and/or expanded operations within the City, Palmetto Railways cleared a 118-acre site on the former Navy Base in preparation for a future Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF), and a second major annexation of land west of the Ashley River increased the City’s land area by another 2,200 acres. North Charleston is at its “prime” and yet it is “primed” for an even more successful future.

Prime North Charleston is not the City’s first Comprehensive Plan. The City adopted its first comprehensive plan in 1999. It was subsequently updated in 2008 and reviewed in 2015. A number of other previous planning initiatives also have informed the development of Prime North Charleston, carrying forward goals that remain to be realized.

Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities (LAMC) Plan (2010): A grass-roots planning effort led by seven environmental justice neighborhoods developed and adopted to address direct and indirect impacts of the State Ports Authority’s new terminal. The LAMC Revitalization Plan proposed a set of investment strategies to bring additional housing and commercial activity into this core area of the City.

Partnership for Prosperity Neck Area Master Plan (2014): A framework for catalyst area developments, transportation improvements, land use and urban design principles to serve as a road map for the long-term redevelopment and revitalization of the “Neck” area.