One of the unfortunate realities about driving and owning cars in the Lowcountry is that you will probably have to deal with some form of body damage at some point. Whether your driver-side door gets dinged in a parking lot or you back into a light pole, accidents happen. The good news? Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration is here to help with all of your body shop needs.
Unlike many fly-by-night collision repair companies, our auto body shop in cityname, state has served hardworking people for years. We make it a point to only employ the most experienced, highly-trained auto body technicians available, so you have peace of mind that we'll get the job done right. In fact, our mechanics have more than 60 years of combined experience. There is no collision repair job that we haven't handled - from minor bumps and scratches to complex repairs stemming from multi-car accidents.
At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, we are committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality body shop services at the most reasonable prices in town. We believe that everyone deserves to have their car or truck repaired when they need it the most. After all, our vehicles are crucial to daily life. We need them to live, work and play. We use them for just about every activity we enjoy, from taking the kids to soccer practice to hitting the gym on a Saturday morning. That's why we work with just about every car insurance company out there to ensure that our loyal customers have access to the best collision repair in South Carolina.
Customers choose Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration because they know we strive to exceed their expectations. At the end of the day, we want to do right by our customers with reliable body shop services, high-quality repair work, and helpful customer service. But that's not all. Our clients enjoy peace of mind with their collision repairs because we:
Provide Free Estimates: Drop by our shop or call our office to learn more about our free estimates. Once we understand the scope of your restoration needs, our team will get to work.
Offer 100% Guarantee: We have become a staple in our community because we guarantee our work 100%. If we missed the mark, made a mistake, or you're unhappy with our service, let us know. We'll make it right.
Specialize in Full-Service Repairs: Our collision mechanics make repairs on all vehicle makes and models, so you don't have to worry about whether we can service your car. As a full-service collision repair company in South Carolina, we help every step of the way, from the moment we meet until you leave our parking lot.
Love to Paint: Yes, you read that right. At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, we have a team of incredibly talented car painters to supplement our collision services. We offer various auto painting services, from minor paint jobs to full-scale custom paint projects.
Accept Car Insurance: As daily drivers and locals in South Carolina, we know that collision repairs can be pricey. Despite the cost, they are necessary for daily life. That's why we're happy to work with car insurance companies, so you can go where you need to go without stressing about safety.
Work Hard for You: At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, we try to keep it simple. You can rest easy knowing that there's no fine print, sleazy sales tactics, or lazy mechanics to worry about. When you pull into our parking lot, know that we prioritize good old-fashioned hard work and reliable service. No if's, and's, or but's.
According to recent statistics from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, a new traffic accident happens every 3.7 minutes in South Carolina. That's a lot of car accidents in a short amount of time. Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, filled with complex insurance claims and complicated auto body repairs. At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, we know how stressful it can be to have your care restored to its pre-collision beauty. That's why we offer comprehensive, streamlined auto body services and unsurpassed car restoration quality.
With more than 60 years of combined body shop experience in South Carolina, our repair techs leave no stones unturned and never take shortcuts when repairing your vehicle. We're proud to say we only use the latest diagnostic techniques, equipment, and parts to get the job done right. That way, you can get back on the road quickly and safely.
A few of our most common auto body shop services include but are not limited to:
Studies show that about 50 percent of vehicles suffer some kind of frame damage in a car collision. Frame damage can occur easily, even in common situations involving minor fender benders. Often, frame damage is difficult to see and can go unnoticed by insurance adjusters. The unfortunate truth is that even minor frame damage can put you, your family, your friends, and your car at risk when driving. When it goes unnoticed, it can often spell disaster for everyday drivers who might think their car is fine to drive.
When your car's frame is bent, your alignment is usually off, too, causing you to swerve and veer while driving. At best, this scenario results in unnecessary wear on your tires and, at worst, results in a car wreck. The bottom line? You need to get your car's frame inspected by a team of professional collision repair experts, even if you've only been involved in a minor accident.
At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, we take a comprehensive approach to frame repair and alignment. Our highly-trained frame repair technicians use a multi-point process to diagnose and correct your frame problems by:
Chips and cracks are bad news for your car's windshield and don't just look bad - they can do serious damage when left unrepaired. Cracks and chips can quickly turn from a minor inconvenience to a safety hazard by impairing your vision. If your windshield crack is bad enough, you might even get pulled over by a police officer. Driving your vehicle with a large crack or even with an object embedded in it is a bad idea, but Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration is here to help.
Our windshield repair technicians have years of experience repairing car windows and windshields for many types of automobile glass, including side and rear windows. If you have been involved in a collision and need new glass, we can help facilitate that process and install a new windshield without you ever lifting a finger. New glass is usually needed with serious car wrecks, and it's always best to trust a professional auto body shop in cityname, state to get the job done. Our team uses the most modern glass and adhesives on the market, so you know your windshield and windows are high-quality and ready for the road.
Whether you have a chipped windshield or need all-new glass for your car, we're here to serve you.
Out car windshield and glass repairs include:
Any kind of item or stray piece of debris can dent your car. If you've been driving for at least a few years, chances are you've parked at a grocery store and, after shopping, returned to your car to see a big, unsightly dent. Whether they're due to inclement weather or rocks on the highway, dents cause noticeable damage that only gets worse with time. One of the most common dent repair solutions is paintless dent removal - a process that removes dents in your vehicle without removing any paint.
Paintless dent removal is great because it is not invasive and is a very efficient, cost-effective way to fix car dents before they get even worse. There are no fillers or sanding involved, making this option one of the quickest ways to remove dents. At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, our dent removal technicians use several tools to gently massage dents out of your car. When we're done, we'll smooth everything back into place, leaving your car looking like new.
To make matters even better, most paintless dent removal is supported by car insurance agencies, meaning you may not pay a cent out of pocket for our dent removal services.
At Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration, we are very passionate about classic car restoration and offer a wide range of restoration services in Johns Island. We understand that no two classic car restoration projects are the same, which is why we offer a wide variety of services. We're talking mechanical upgrades, partial restorations, and full car restoration projects. If you have a repair, upgrade, or restoration plan in mind, chances are we can help you achieve your goals.
After we perform an initial inspection and provide you with a detailed estimate on the scope of work needed to restore your car, our seasoned technicians will get to work on your project.
Our full-scale classic car restoration process includes:
When was the last time you got compliments on your car's paint? If you loved your car's paint when it was brand new but hate what it looks like now, Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration can help you fall back in love with your vehicle. Whether your current paint job looks old and faded or you're craving a new color to show off, our paint technicians can deliver what you're looking for.
Between our advanced painting tools and uber-talented vehicle painting experts, our team can transform your car's aesthetic appeal, no matter the make and model. We can even fix dings and scratches in your paint while we're at it, so your car is shiny, smooth, and ready to turn heads.
We offer various auto painting services, from minor paint jobs to full-scale custom projects. We're happy to work with budgets of all sizes and can accommodate all of your painting needs, whether you want to paint a daily driver or a show car.
We recommend you call our office today, so we can get to know you a little better and understand what kind of paint job your car needs. We're happy to chat about cars and your paint job, even if you're just inquiring. After all, we're more than the best body shop in Johns Island - we're enthusiasts, too.
If you're on the hunt for the highest-quality auto body repair services in South Carolina, backed by decades of experience, look no further than Lowcountry Paint Body & Restoration. We put our customer's needs first and strive to exceed expectations with every service we offer - all at a price you can afford. Swing by our body shop or contact our office today to discover why we're the Lowcountry's first choice in collision repair.(843) 996-4995
NORTH CHARLESTON — A man provided Charleston County deputies with a different name before he took off running across several lanes of a major road and jumping from an overpass.Kelvin Cole, 56, died Oct. 28 after being struck by multiple cars on Interstate 26. Investigators later determined he had active arrest warrants from Charleston County’s Family Court and the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.Cole, who lived and worked as a welder in Johns Island, was riding in the passenger seat of a car...
NORTH CHARLESTON — A man provided Charleston County deputies with a different name before he took off running across several lanes of a major road and jumping from an overpass.
Kelvin Cole, 56, died Oct. 28 after being struck by multiple cars on Interstate 26. Investigators later determined he had active arrest warrants from Charleston County’s Family Court and the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Cole, who lived and worked as a welder in Johns Island, was riding in the passenger seat of a car when a deputy stopped it for alleged traffic violations. The car’s 31-year-old driver was ultimately given a warning.
Attempts to reach Cole’s family Nov. 2 were unsuccessful.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office released an incident report Nov. 2, several days after Cole’s death. It provides new details on what preceded the moment he ran from the deputy.
Deputy Tanner Buller was patrolling around 10:30 p.m. near Stall and Mazyck roads in North Charleston when he noticed a white SUV swerve several times from its lane, the report states. The driver also failed to use a turn signal when changing lanes.
Buller, who has worked in law enforcement for five years, had a deputy-in-training with him during the stop. He flipped on his blue lights and the SUV pulled over onto the Ashley Phosphate Road overpass, which sits atop I-26.
Buller spoke with the car’s driver through the passenger-side window. The driver denied he had been drinking, but Buller wrote he could smell marijuana and alcohol coming from the vehicle’s passenger side. The car’s passenger, later identified as Cole, told the deputy his name was Raymond Brown.
Buller had both men get out of their car so he could search them. The driver admitted he’d smoked marijuana earlier in the day, the report states.
When Cole exited the car, Buller saw a beer can near the passenger seat. Buller found Cole’s driver’s license and noticed it did not match the name he’d provided the deputy.
Buller tried to detain Cole “but he pulled away and fled on foot” across Ashley Phosphate Road, the report states. The deputy chased Cole while trying to avoid traffic.
He repeatedly asked Cole to stop but the man “eventually jumped over the guardrail,” the report states. Buller saw Cole’s hands “grabbing the rail for a brief period” before he appeared to let go and fall onto I-26, the report states.
Buller never drew his weapon, said Andrew Knapp, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman. The deputy remains on duty. In addition to conducting its own internal review, the Sheriff’s Office also requested State Law Enforcement Division investigate the incident, Knapp said.
Investigators searched Cole’s name in a federal database and found he had an active warrant with the probation department, as well as three bench warrants with Charleston County’s Family Court.
Cole was the defendant in an ongoing child support case filed in 2016, court records show.
He was placed on a year of probation in February 2020 after pleading guilty in Charleston County to a forgery charge. Cole’s probation sentence would not be terminated until he paid all associated fees, said Anita Dantzler, a department spokeswoman.
Cole owed nearly $2,500 to the department, records show.
Johns Island is much more than a traffic jam: It is a collection of people with deep connections to place and community. Many have been here for generations and have roots in the island’s agricultural history. More are new neighbors who moved to this beautiful Sea Island seeking a purposeful way of life.The island’s roads are in dire need of improvement, which is one reason Charleston County residents voted for the 2016 half-cent sales tax to fund necessary upgrades, such as improvements along the Main Road Corridor. Work ...
Johns Island is much more than a traffic jam: It is a collection of people with deep connections to place and community. Many have been here for generations and have roots in the island’s agricultural history. More are new neighbors who moved to this beautiful Sea Island seeking a purposeful way of life.
The island’s roads are in dire need of improvement, which is one reason Charleston County residents voted for the 2016 half-cent sales tax to fund necessary upgrades, such as improvements along the Main Road Corridor. Work on Segment A, or the flyover at U.S. Highway 17 and Main Road, is moving forward, and now the county is considering Segment C: improvements to Bohicket Road, from Maybank Highway to Betsy Kerrison Parkway.
All five alternative proposed designs create four- and five-lane highways through the southern portion of Johns Island, drastically changing its character.
Hence the formation of Rational Roads, a nonprofit advocacy group whose goal is to develop a more effective, less destructive solution to the five unacceptable options provided in 2020 for the Main Road Segment C project.
Change is hard. New ideas are often deemed “radical” or even “irrational.” But change is necessary. Too many highways in Charleston have cut through and destroyed communities due to a lack of creative visioning. Better, more local solutions for road improvements exist, and to get there, the community must be engaged. Because who understands the safety concerns and chokepoints better than the local community? Transportation planners, engineers and elected officials should rely on community members’ insight from the beginning.
Our grassroots methodology is steeped in community feedback and data. Rational Roads has hosted more than a dozen meetings in the past year via Zoom and at churches, breweries, community gatherings and farmers markets. We’ve engaged developers, conservationists, pastors, students, farmers and more. We have found that Johns Islanders are deeply connected to the soul and preservation of this island. And we know that 21st century problems can’t be solved with 20th century solutions, especially when it comes to road building.
At Rational Roads, we are asking County Council to update the “purpose and need” for the Main Road Segment C project; that’s what will guide the direction of the Segment C project. We feel strongly that the purpose and need should include safety. Johns Island needs a customized approach for our community that goes beyond a five-lane road from point A to point B, stripping our community of its character and missing a critical opportunity to address safety concerns and create a connected sense of place.
We raised funds to work with traffic engineers to develop a sixth alternative, one that addresses our island’s traffic needs by adding left-turn lanes, roundabouts and intersection improvements at key locations where accidents are happening and congestion is occurring. Our local traffic data revealed that the worst safety and congestion issues exist between Mary Ann Point and Edenvale roads.
Through our conversations with residents across the island, we heard loud and clear that the road should be aligned with the island’s rural character, so Alternative 6 includes safe and connected streets with infrastructure for all road users, including people on foot and on a bike.
These types of improvements, combined with upgrades to Johns Island’s community center, would improve our sense of place, reflect our community values and enhance our quality of life.
Choosing inclusivity over divisiveness, we have engaged County Council members, elected leaders at the city of Charleston, state lawmakers and county staff, and we are finding renewed hope that collaboration can lead to bold improvements. Our plan can be adapted to avoid wetlands, home relocations and trees. Working with County Council and staff, we will keep improving Alternative 6 to ensure that it is the least-destructive and most cost-effective approach.
As we update our design based on recent feedback, we ask County Council to include safety and context-based designs in the project’s stated purpose and need. We can either have a road that looks like Highway 17 cutting through our island’s rural heart or a series of street and traffic upgrades that work together to enhance safety and incorporate localized designs based on a cohesive community vision.
We have the tools to build better roads. Rational Roads is showing that working together every step of the way will help us do just that.
Kate Nevin is a co-founder of Rational Roads for Johns Island and a Johns Island resident.
Nearly 200 historic trees on Johns Island were on the chopping block at a Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Dec. 7, and the debate surrounding their removal is stirring up questions about preserving the island’s natural habitat while planning for booming population growth at the city’s outer edges.Developers requested permission to cut down 193 “grand” trees across two developments in cases heard before the board, which reviews projects that need special exceptions to city ordinances.The grand c...
Nearly 200 historic trees on Johns Island were on the chopping block at a Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Dec. 7, and the debate surrounding their removal is stirring up questions about preserving the island’s natural habitat while planning for booming population growth at the city’s outer edges.
Developers requested permission to cut down 193 “grand” trees across two developments in cases heard before the board, which reviews projects that need special exceptions to city ordinances.
The grand classification means the trees are more than 24 inches in diameter, likely indicating that they are well over 100 years old. As a result, they are protected by city ordinance. Not only are the trees considered an aesthetic trademark of the once entirely rural island but they are also a key component of the area’s ecosystem and a natural flood prevention tool.
“The trees help us for resilience, absorbing water, supplying shade and wildlife habitat,” John Zlogar, chair of the community group Johns Island Task Force, told The Post and Courier. He is one of nearly 30 residents who submitted comments to the zoning board in favor of saving as many trees as possible amid development.
The board ultimately approved both tree removal plans with some caveats.
Developers of the first project, a 71-home planned community near Fenwick Hall Plantation, requested permission to cut down 21 trees. The zoning appeals board reduced that to 15. They also stipulated that the developers of the property must hire an arborist to create a protection plan for the remaining trees and plant 151 new native trees with at least a 2½-inch diameter.
The developers argued that after having an arborist evaluate the trees on the property, the ones slated for removal were already in poor health.
“We designed the proposed concept plan which ultimately preserves 36 grand trees and impacts grand trees only with a health grade ‘D’ or lower,” wrote Jenna Nelson in a letter to the zoning board. Nelson leads the development’s engineering team, Bowman Consulting Group.
If those trees fell naturally, however, they would have returned organic matter to the ecosystem, promoting other forms of plant life that provide food for animals and insects, said Philip Dustan, an ecology professor at the College of Charleston.
“When (the tree) falls down. it slowly rots and releases its nutrients,” he said.
Tree removals at the second project on Johns Island, called Wooddale, were also approved by the board. Instead of removing 172 trees as originally requested, the developers revised the plan to remove 124. They must also develop a protection plan for the remaining trees and plant about 500 native 2½-inch or wider trees. They also have plans to establish a conservation easement along the southern portion of the property, meaning it will be protected from development moving forward.
“Multiple layout alternatives have been explored by following the natural contours of the site by placing most of the density in the highest area to minimize the cut and fill needed as well as minimize the tree and environmental impacts,” wrote Jason Hutchinson, an engineer for the development with firm Thomas & Hutton.
The Wooddale project has been in the works since 2013 because of a lawsuit that hinged on disagreements between the city and the developer about how to zone the development. As proposed, it includes single-family homes, offices, an assisted-living facility and other amenities, according to site plans. Because it is south of the island’s urban growth boundary, it is subject to stricter limitations than the northern tip of the island. The boundary was established decades ago as a way to preserve the island’s rural origins.
The Woodale tract sits not too far away from Charleston Executive Airport where conservationists secured a win earlier this year. The Charleston County Aviation Authority signed off on a deal to place just under 100 acres in a legally binding conservation easement. An agreement with Lowcountry Land Trust will keep 94 acres from ever being developed there.
As growth continues within the boundary’s limits, some residents are trying to advocate for developments with as little ecological impact as possible on the southern side of the boundary line.
Dustan, who lives near Wooddale, is not pleased with the upcoming development. The most ecologically sensitive solution, he said, would be to build elevated homes on pilings and keep all the existing trees intact.
By removing the native trees, the surrounding area is robbed of parts of a centuries-old root network, which can affect the health of surrounding trees.
“A lot of the trees that you see are actually related to each other,” he said.
Although the development follows the city’s storm water standards, Dustan is concerned that runoff created by the new development will overflow nearby Burden Creek during major ran events.
After hurricane Ian came through in September, water was about a foot below breaching the banks of the creek, he said.
“The curious thing is ... if we keep building like this, we might start flooding the new communities, too,” he said.
Johns Island is seeing a massive influx of growth in ways that is not possible in more developed areas of the city. As a result, the island is seeing a patchwork of new developments separated by stretches of farmland and forests. Longtime residents want to see the city use modern planning tools to lessen the impact of new development on the environment and flooding.
“The area inside the urban growth boundary is only 20 percent of the island, let’s contain the growth in that 20 percent to make sure it’s smart,” Zlogar said.
A citywide water plan, which is currently in the works, will look at the city as a whole to see what types of flood mitigation are needed most and where they would have the most impact. Instead of tackling flood concerns on a project-by-project basis, the city is looking at ways to stop development that increases flooding and identify which flood projects need to be prioritized first.
Instead of trying to drain water as quickly as possible, the city’s main strategy is shifting toward effectively storing floodwater, such as in detention basins, and letting it slowly disperse. One advantage of this approach is that it helps prevent a sinking effect called subsidence. Shifting ground levels due to the movement of groundwater threaten buildings’ foundations and worsen flood risk. Forrest are a natural asset in this type of flood prevention, Dustan said.
“The best way to solve a problem is preventing it from happening in the first place,” he said.
The water plan will be worked into a new citywide zoning ordinance that Charleston officials are also currently drafting.
In the new version, officials want the zoning maps — the guide for what can get built where — to be based on elevation. High ground near major roadways will be fair game for high-density development, in most cases. Low-lying areas and wetlands will be restricted to little or no use at all. The ground rules for development will vary in each area of town. It’s an opportunity to set the framework for how Johns Island can grow in a sustainable way.
As these changes come down the pipeline, Johns Island residents will also have a new advocate in City Hall.
From 2010 to 2020, census data shows the island’s population within Charleston city limits doubled from nearly 5,300 residents to almost 12,000. As a result, in recently approved City Council redistricting maps, Johns Island will get its own council member for the first time in 2024.
How the city approaches tree preservation will need to be tailored to Johns Island, too, Zlogar said. The existing tree ordinance was designed with more developed areas of the city, such as the peninsula, in mind. There, developers are typically requesting to remove one or two trees in an already built-out neighborhood. But on Johns Island, developers are purchasing lots with upwards of 100 acres of land.
“We have a tree ordinance but to my knowledge there is no forest ordinance and that is the problem,” Zlogar said.
Every tree removed affects the overall ecosystem of a forest. And replanting smaller trees, even of the same variety, doesn’t have the same ecological benefit.
“It’s the equivalent of tearing down an apartment building and putting up a woodshed,” he said.
The other concern from Dustan and other community members is that the tree ordinance does not take a holistic view of the island. Saving contiguous swaths of forest is more effective strategy than saving groups of trees on a lot-by-lot basis. Having interrupted clusters of forest reduces storm water absorption and splits up wildlife habitats as well.
“We’re not seeing the forest for the trees,” Dustan said.
Reach Emma Whalen at 843-708-5837. Follow her on Twitter @_emma_whalen.
A 72-unit senior affordable housing development on Johns Island is running into funding hurdles due to recent changes in state tax-credit policies.Developers are about $2 million short of the $22 million project budget because state legislators recently took action to limit spending on such projects.In May, Gov. Henry McMaster signed House Bill 5075 into law, reforming the state-low income housing tax- credit system. It put a cap on the program, stating that South Carolina can’t allocate more than $20 million worth of tax...
A 72-unit senior affordable housing development on Johns Island is running into funding hurdles due to recent changes in state tax-credit policies.
Developers are about $2 million short of the $22 million project budget because state legislators recently took action to limit spending on such projects.
In May, Gov. Henry McMaster signed House Bill 5075 into law, reforming the state-low income housing tax- credit system. It put a cap on the program, stating that South Carolina can’t allocate more than $20 million worth of tax credits to affordable housing developments each year.
Among other changes, it stated that the amount of tax credits that an individual project receives is based on whatever the anticipated cost of the project is when it is first proposed, not when it breaks ground. If, after going through months to years of approval processes, the estimated total cost of the project goes up, the amount of tax credits allocated to the project when construction begins will not increase.
That’s what caused the funding gap for the Johns Island complex, developer of the project Raymond Nix said.
“It can be 18 months between when you apply for tax credits and the time you are breaking ground,” he said.
The new method of calculating state tax credits is a departure from the previous process. Under the same program at the federal level and under the prior version of the state program, once a project broke ground, it would receive tax credits based on its most up-to-date cost estimate.
Inflation, increased construction costs and other factors meant that the developers had to recalculate the total cost of the Johns Island project before breaking ground. But the tax credits received from the state won’t reflect those cost increases.
“The (state law) adjustment resulted in a $1.7 million hole in the project immediately,” Nix said.
Nix, president of Nix Development Co., gave a presentation to the Charleston City Council’s Community Development Committee on Nov. 17, asking if the city is able to step in and fill the project’s funding gap.
The 72-unit development, called Esau Jenkins Village, is located at Maybank Highway and Bohicket Road. It will be run by Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corp. The nonprofit, which has an office in front of the 7-acre development site, operates programs for senior citizens and disabled people in parts of Charleston and Colleton counties.
The construction site abuts a nearly 19-acre undeveloped tract owned by Angel Oak Park LLC. The city of Charleston owns 6.5 acres around the Angel Oak Tree and nearly 8 acres are owned by St. Johns Church.
An existing 88-unit, single-story, subsidized housing complex affiliated with Sea Island Comprehensive is across the highway.
Nix and other leaders of the project are seeking funding from local governments and nonprofits to fill the $2 million shortfall.
The city of Charleston hasn’t taken any action yet. Officials indicated an interest in helping it get across the finish line if other funding avenues don’t pan out. But the Esau Jenkins Development isn’t the only one of its kind seeking more funding.
“Quite honestly, this has probably been the fifth request that we’ve had to help with gap financing as a result of state housing change in legislation,” said Geona Shaw Johnson, Charleston housing director.
Nix said he’s aware that he’s not the only developer seeking out assistance after facing unanticipated costs. Even projects that have already broken ground are having to adjust their funding sources, he said.
“I would argue that any affordable housing developer that you call right now is grappling with this same issue except for ones that were just recently awarded funding,” he said.
The tax-credit program, called Workforce and Senior Affordable Housing Act, was originally approved during the state’s 2019-20 legislative session. It was designed as a way to provide a first-of-its-kind, state-level affordable housing tax credit that would match federal housing tax credits to help get affordable housing proposals to viability.
Lawmakers saw it as a bargain. According to a fiscal impact statement associated with the bill, state analysts anticipated the credit would cost the state roughly $16 million in annual revenue by the 10th year of the program, all while filling a significant hole in the state’s housing stock.
Affordable housing advocates credit the program with spurring the development of nearly 9,600 units across the state in just two years. But it was also unsustainable, fiscal hawks argued, with the number of applicants far exceeding the anticipated number of credits lawmakers thought they were agreeing to.
The original cost estimates, based off of historical demands for state affordable housing credits, were well off the mark.
According to a 2021 memo from Frank Rainwater, executive director of the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, the state treasury was on pace to issue more than $50 million in tax credits in 2021 alone, with an anticipated impact of $5.16 billion to the state’s general fund over the next 20 years.
Tax-credit applications were put on hold at the beginning of 2022 while lawmakers hashed out the details of the reform bill that ultimately capped the program’s annual spending.
Reach Emma Whalen at 843-708-5837. Follow her on Twitter @_emma_whalen.
After a decade of booming population growth, Johns Island may get its own representative on Charleston City Council.But making that change could cost a sitting council member their seat.The island is now in District 5, which also spans much of outer West Ashley. It is represented by Councilman Karl Brady, who lives in West Ashley.Two newly proposed City Council district maps...
After a decade of booming population growth, Johns Island may get its own representative on Charleston City Council.
But making that change could cost a sitting council member their seat.
The island is now in District 5, which also spans much of outer West Ashley. It is represented by Councilman Karl Brady, who lives in West Ashley.
Two newly proposed City Council district maps make Johns Island its own district without any extension into West Ashley. That means the City Council member to represent it would have to live on Johns Island.
“There is no one on council right now that drives our roads every day, sends their kids to school here, works here or lives here,” said John Zlogar, chairman of the Johns Island Task Force.
The group was established in 2013 to bring together residents and local officials to address Johns Island-specific issues.
While Zlogar said he has no issue with Brady, he said he would like to have a council member who can put their sole focus on the island.
“We will feel like we have someone that has our voice,” he said.
The island, which is partially within the city of Charleston and partially within unincorporated Charleston County, has deep roots in agriculture and the city’s Black history. Several Black family farms have run their businesses on the island since Reconstruction, when formerly enslaved laborers took over former plantations.
An “urban growth boundary,” established across the island limits where agricultural land must be protected and where development is allowed. Most of the city’s side of the island is located within the urban growth boundary and as a result has seen a massive influx of residents looking for a lower cost of living than the city’s core. Between 2010 and 2020, District 5, the district with Johns Island and West Ashley, grew a staggering 154 percent.
Charleston Chief Innovation Officer Tracy McKee has led the city through the redistricting process three times in her career. Factoring in population growth between 2010 and 2020, McKee and city staff have been in the process of redrawing the council district boundaries for months.
“Four council members live on the peninsula, but we’ve had more growth in Berkeley County on Daniel Island and on Johns Island,” McKee said.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau releases new population and demographic data that governments use to redraw voting districts. In 2020, it was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Council voted last summer to delay redistricting until after the fall 2021 election.
Officials try to balance the population size of each district as well as their geographic spread. In Charleston, for example, it would be impractical to include Daniel Island and outer West Ashley in the same district.
Initially, city staff put out one proposal in July. That plan kept all sitting council members within their current districts. None of them were at risk of losing their seat or having to run against each other to keep their seat. But the proposal split Johns island into three districts that included other areas of the city as well.
The map was met with some criticism for the wide span of geography each district covered. Districts were stretched from the peninsula far into West Ashley and District 11, covered parts of West Ashley, James Island and Johns Island.
The League of Women Voters published a commentary in The Post and Courier calling for more compact districts.
“Drawing districts to protect incumbents means the maps defy logic in many places. James Island remains divided into three different districts, one with very dubious contiguity as it crosses briefly over West Ashley and onto the peninsula. Johns Island, now all in District 5, will be divided into three different districts, diluting the voices of those residents,” the league wrote.
The league now supports the new proposals, mainly because the districts don’t stretch as far across the city.
“They keep communities together. These really prioritize citizen interests,” said Leslie Skardon, the director of advocacy for the League of Women Voters.
On Aug. 28, city staff unveiled two alternative maps that took some of that feedback into consideration. The two new maps, referred to as 1A and 1B, are almost identical except for their effects on two current peninsula districts.
Both maps make Johns Island its own district.
To create the Johns Island district, city staff proposed two options. They can move District 3 or District 6 off of the West Side of the peninsula to only cover West Ashley. If District 3 moves off, District 6 will absorb the portion of the West Side that is currently in District 3.
Because District 3 Councilman Jason Sakran lives on the peninsula, he would be drawn out of his district. He would have to run for District 6 against fellow Councilman William Dudley Gregorie. But that seat is not up for election until 2025. In the meantime, depending on when council decides to make the maps effective, a special election would determine who represents the new West Ashley-only version of District 3.
The other scenario would be that District 6 would move off of its portion of the West Side of the peninsula. In that case, Gregorie, who lives also in the West Side, would be drawn into Councilman Sakran’s District 3. Because District 3 is up for election in 2023, the two would face off sooner.
Sakran said he would be OK with running against Gregorie in 2023, but he is most favorable of the original map that keeps all council members in their respective districts.
“You are overhauling peoples’ elected representatives to the tune of 40 percent of the city’s population,” Sakran said of the new proposals.
According to the city, if the original proposal is accepted, about 30 percent of the city’s population will end up in new council districts. If either of the alternatives are chosen, that number will move up to 39 percent.
Another factor in the process is the establishment of minority-majority districts. Districts 4 and 7 on the all three map proposals are majority-minority districts. They cover the upper peninsula and part of West Ashley, respectively. When the maps were last redrawn in 2010, the city went from having five majority-minority districts to three. Now the city is guaranteed to have two. As demographics shift, it’s difficult to group minority voters together and ensure their voice is in the majority in any part of the city, McKee said.
City Council will review the map proposals at its Sept. 13 meeting. No action will be taken. A public hearing will be held in the fall. Residents can view the maps and leave comments online the city’s redistricting “Open Town Hall” webpage at www.charleston-sc.gov/Redistricting2020. Email comments are accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Emma Whalen at 843-708-5837. Follow her on Twitter @_emma_whalen.