Charleston County Rescue helped residents on Peppercorn Lane during a 2015 flood. Staff/file

SC - Editorial: Charleston County does the right thing on resilience planning

When Charleston County updated its comprehensive plan two years ago, many residents were rightly alarmed that the detailed document inexplicably contained few mentions of flooding and no specific recommendations for protecting the county from rising seas and stronger storms. It was a glaring oversight given the damage the area already had suffered from flooding and the worsening threats from this existential danger.

County officials wisely took these criticisms seriously. This month or next, the county is expected to become one of the first local governments in South Carolina to add a resilience element to its existing comprehensive plan. This won’t change anything on the ground immediately, but it will provide guidance as County Council considers future changes to its building codes, public works policies and zoning rules.

The planning change was shaped by county planners and staff, developers, environmental advocates and municipal officials who met for about a year to work on the details. Jason Crowley of the Coastal Conservation League participated in the working group and is pleased with the results, which he said will help reduce political pressure when the county faces tough decisions.

The element not only tackles flooding but also earthquakes, extreme heat and food scarcity. “It is a road map for how to shape policy,” Mr. Crowley said. “Charleston County is really good at following its comprehensive plan, better than most local governments, in my opinion.”

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