Call Collett: Skinny Hollywood road nearly half standard width

Call Collett

The Hettlers retired to quiet Hollywood two years ago. Their home overlooks a green space in The Landing of Poplar Grove.  Shortly after buying the house, they realized a problem.

“The post office, they are basically the ones that got us thinking about it,” Barb Hettler explained to News 2’s Rebecca Collett.

USPS stopped delivering mail to the mailbox, which was initially in the Hettler’s driveway behind their house.  The mailboxes along their street had to be moved to the end of their street in a cluster. The problem is the road doesn’t have a place for the USPS driver to turn around, like a cul-de-sac.  

“That’s when we started asking questions,” Bard said.

And they discovered another issue. Their road measures 11 feet.  The current town codes require nearly twice that.

“It’s a safety issue,” Bard said

The Hettlers worry about a fire truck or ambulance accessing their home. The skinny alley behind their house is the only road to their house. Current fire codes also require roads to be at least 20 feet wide.

When the Hettlers first start raising questions about the skinny, dead-end alley, an employee of the developer presented the idea of extending the road. The plan stalled.

“They just had it staked. It never went anywhere,” Bard recalled.

News 2 discovered the Town of Hollywood’s ordinance requires two-way alleys, like the one behind the Hettler’s home, must be a minimum of 18 feet wide.  

The Hollywood’s planner said he didn’t know why the road is so much smaller. The plans were in the works before he joined town staff, though he ultimately signed off on the plans.

Mayor Jacquelyn “Jackie” S. Heyward declined a taped interview.  In a Hollywood Town Council meeting from June 2017, she said the town would find a solution.  And during the July Town Council meeting, she suggested the fire department assess the situation. The outcome of that assessment isn’t clear.  

News 2 contacted the developer of Poplar Grove, Vic Mills, for information. He declined a taped interview but sent a statement reading in part:

 “The entire road system within Poplar Grove was designed by one of Charleston‘s largest and leading engineering firms. They were inspected and approved by the relevant governmental authorities. “

But the Hettlers believe someone missed something, and they are frustrated. They are also worried about future development in the works.

“I do not know why the town will not enforce their laws,” Bard said.

Despite requests, no one from the Town has been able to provide the inspections of the roads in Poplar Grove or any formal approval to bypass the Town’s minimum road requirement. The plans News 2 reviewed at the Town of Hollywood only show a 30 foot right of way.  The actual width of the road isn’t marked on the available maps.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers consulted with News 2 on the design of neighborhoods and best-practices for roadways.  A spokesman for the organization told News 2 that 11 feet, if designed as alley, is not uncommon across the county.  However, most alleys should be 14 feet wide so cars can pass each other, especially if the exception is for two way traffic.  

The Hettlers’ other concern is a lack of space to turn around at the end of their road. There is no cul-de-sac. Engineers with the ITE told News 2 designs should generally allow for some turn-around element since there is only one way onto the alley.  However, since the road isn’t extremely long, it may be acceptable to forego a turn-around.

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