ABOUT THE PROJECT
The City’s Zoning Code was first adopted in 1931 and has not been comprehensively updated since 1966. Since then, there have been dozens of piecemeal updates to the code, resulting in what is today a lengthy, poorly organized document that is not well-aligned with the City’s planning and development goals, including those expressed in the recently adopted Charleston City Plan.
City Plan recognizes that Charleston is facing new and novel challenges due to sea level rise. The City’s Sea Level Rise Projection Strategy (2019) estimates that sea levels in Charleston will rise between two and three feet by 2070. Areas within the floodplain that now occasionally flood will begin to experience tidal flooding, and areas outside the floodplain will be at greater risk of flooding, particularly during a strong hurricane (Category 3) or similar storm.
The current Zoning Code does not adequately address how the City’s development regulations should guide new development or redevelopment to minimize negative impacts related to a rising water environment, or to ensure this growth and development is located and designed in a sustainable way.
For this reason, and as well as to modernize and make the current regulations more understandable and user-friendly, the City is embarking on this Zoning Code update project.
Key goals are to:
Update and modernize the current regulations to make them more understandable, graphically rich, and user-friendly, with a streamlined development review process;
Prepare an elevation-based zoning code which:
Ensures new growth and development is located and designed in ways that minimize negative impacts related to a rising water environment;
Ensures that development and redevelopment is more resilient toward the shocks that occur from flooding; and
Ensures the City’s development patterns are sustainable in this new rising water environment;
Ensure the updated development regulations are sensitive to the desired development context in different parts of the community; and
Ensure the updated regulations are equitable to all members of the community, by prioritizing more opportunities for different types and affordable housing, and ensuring the voices of all community members are heard when making zoning and land use decisions.
Comprehensively updating the Zoning Code is a significant undertaking that has not been done in Charleston in over 50 years. Experience teaches that it should be done in a systematic, open, and transparent way, with a number of opportunities at key intervals for the community to provide input. For these reasons, it is estimated the project will take two and one-half to three years to complete.
We encourage you to stay engaged – please visit the Contact Us page to sign up for information about meetings, and to learn about the availability of work products, as they are released.
PROJECT WORK PLAN & SCHEDULE
The Zoning Code update project has five tasks, as illustrated in the graphic below. Each task serves an important role in the preparation of the City’s new regulations. There will be opportunities for public engagement and community input in each task, as noted in the graphic. Please visit the Contact Us page to sign up for information about meetings, and the availability of work products, as they are released.