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Cooks Crossroads Named Outstanding Planning Project of the Year

Post Date:11/02/2018 1:30 PM

On Friday, November 2, 2018 the American Planning Association South Carolina Chapter named Cooks Crossroads an Outstanding Planning Project of the Year for Large Urban Jurisdiction.

The project titled “Standing at the Crossroads – Designing a Gateway for the Future” was a collaborative effort between the Dorchester County Planning & Zoning Department, the Dorchester County Planning Commission, the Dorchester Trust Foundation, the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, nationally recognized Planning firm, Urban Design Associates, various stakeholders and private organizations.

Cooks Crossroads, a conglomerate of parcels located at the intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 165, is the last true rural crossroad in the greater Summerville area. This intersection is located within Dorchester County’s Ashley River Historic Overlay District, created in 2007 as a reaction to intense development pressure in the vicinity. The overlay district was created with the intent to promote responsible development and to mitigate the effects of new construction to safeguard Dorchester County’s heritage, natural beauty, and economic recreational resources; to conserve wildlife habitat; to stabilize riverbank; and to protect water quality and marine nursery resources.

This project creates a comprehensive set of design guidelines for the last remaining undeveloped rural crossroad in the greater Summerville area. From start to finish, this project serves as an example of what can be accomplished when multiple parties with different interests come together.

The project broke through the traditional perception that development is bad and shows that development done correctly can preserve and promote natural features, enhance economic development efforts, increase tourism, provide the amenities needed by adjacent communities, and create a unique destination for the community to enjoy. Stepping beyond standard design guidelines, the document provides a detailed introduction on the importance of this intersection to the region and transitions into a thorough study of the issues and opportunities on the parcels that create this intersection. Sound planning principles are detailed throughout the document but are focused on the local landscape that it serves. The result is a community supported roadmap to assist in the creation of a gateway destination that is truly sympathetic to and respectful of Lowcountry heritage.

Submissions were judged on innovation, transferability, quality, implementation, comprehensiveness, significance and cost benefit.

Jay Byars, Dorchester County Council Chairman said, “Cooks Crossroads is a gateway to Summerville and scenic highway 61. We have been working to ensure the design standards for future development at this strategic gateway reflect the character of Dorchester County. Byars added, “We have an obligation to hold developers accountable for their impacts and design guidelines go a long way to ensure what’s built in the county is of high quality and enhances our way of life.”

George McDaniel, President of the Ashley Scenic River Advisory Committee and Dorchester Trust Foundation Member echoed Chairman Byars’ remarks and added “Cooks Crossroads has stood at the crossroads of history for centuries, it speaks well of our community that we’ve produced this award-winning plan. Thanks to the collaborative Urban Design Associates and Dorchester County’s planning department and to funding from the Dorchester Trust Foundation, the SC Heritage Corridor, and Dorchester County, this initiative engaged numerous citizens and community leaders and shows what a public-private partnership can achieve. The task now is to find a developer with the vision and resources to shape the district’s future as a whole, rather than piecemeal, and to implement its designs that create a unique sense of place.

Kiera Reinertsen, Director of Planning & Zoning accepted the award on behalf of the Dorchester County Planning & Zoning Department.

The Planning Commission will review the final guidelines at the November 8th Planning Commission Meeting and vote at that time to make a recommendation to County Council to approve and adopt the design guidelines.

The top honor was also awarded to the Town of Summerville Planning Department for the Green Infrastructure Plan.