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Call Collett: Community united by plan to divide their neighborhood

While many Ivy Hall neighbors have been friends for years, they now find themselves united against a common threat: “Alternative 5a”.

Kevin Brady said he’s considering moving out the neighborhood he’s called home for nearly 20 years. He’s worried about the impact of a newly proposed five lane road that would split his neighborhood. The road is one of the three top choices Charleston County is considering to relieve traffic off Highway 41.

The plan, known as Alternative 5a,  is to construction a new road through the existing powerline easement in Ivy Hall. The road would divide neighborhood into three sections.

Drew Werner bought along the easement because he thought nothing would be built there.

“The biggest impact is going to be the noise and traffic,” he explained. He’s also worried about what a new five lane road would do this property value.  

Jennifer Mayser called Collett to launch an investigation into the project. She’s miffed about the county’s lack of communication after engineers revive the plan in late 2018.

Many homeowners learned of the change through their social networks.

 “There isn’t any transparency,” she said during an interview with News 2.  She was surrounded by neighbors who agreed.

Initially the plan, “Alternative 5”  was nixed early in the Highway 41 corridor improvement process because it was designed with two lanes and wouldn't be effective at addressing traffic issues. Neighbors stopped worrying at that point.  Most stopped watching the process since their neighborhood currently doesn't connect to Highway 41. Then late last year, road re-appeared with five lanes, thus “5a”.

Many of the homeowners in Ivy Hall expressed concern over the communication from the county; the impact on their neighborhood; the potential to disrupt wetlands and animal habitat;  the effect to nearby Laurel Hill County Park; and a lack of opportunity to share input.

In an interview with News 2, Cal Oyer said the community’s HOA management group was alerted to the shifting plans, a standard operating procedure. The plan is being considered solely because it meets traffic needs with the additional lanes, Oyer explained.  Oyer is the project manager. Re-examining the alternative and adding the additional lanes is a response to public comment from previous meetings with surrounding neighborhoods, he explained.

 The environmental impacts and cost are still being evaluated to determine if the road is truly a viable option. 

 It’s a long, federal process to identify the best option.

“The National Environmental Policy Act requires us to go through a lengthy evaluation process of any alternative to widening Highway 41,” Oyer explained.

Part of that process  includes considering the sizable work and cost  to relocate powerlines; build through wetlands; and encroach on the existing neighborhood.

Oyer says the county received dozens of comments about the 5a plan since it was updated, all of which will be included in the decision making. He encouraged more feedback. 

Late last week the county secured a meeting with the Ivy Hall HOA directly to address concerns. That meeting is set for later this month.

Oyer says he can’t give an opinion on the best option, but he hopes to have the pertinent information back from stakeholders like SCE&G, Charleston County Parks, and the neighborhood to present the final pick to the Army Corps of Engineers by the spring.

 Actual construction isn’t expected until 2022.


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