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Latest News in Mount Pleasant, SC

Put it in the books: Mount Pleasant branch manager caps off extraordinary career

A longtime public servant’s journey as a community librarian has come full circle. As of Jan. 1, Mount Pleasant Library Branch Manager Susan Frohnsdorff has officially signed off on her notable 23-plus years at the local library venue, where she’s left an indelible mark on colleagues and patrons who regularly interacted with the married mother of one.Frohnsdorff recalled embarking on a new career path in the 1990s after years of toiling in the legal industry, she told the Moultrie News. Both Susan and her husband,...

A longtime public servant’s journey as a community librarian has come full circle. As of Jan. 1, Mount Pleasant Library Branch Manager Susan Frohnsdorff has officially signed off on her notable 23-plus years at the local library venue, where she’s left an indelible mark on colleagues and patrons who regularly interacted with the married mother of one.

Frohnsdorff recalled embarking on a new career path in the 1990s after years of toiling in the legal industry, she told the Moultrie News. Both Susan and her husband, Gregory, in fact, pursued their Master of Library Science degrees while residing in Ohio.

After graduating from Kent State in 1997, Frohnsdorff relocated to the Charleston area and was hired to work her first librarian post at The Citadel in 1998.

It wasn’t until two years later that the Columbus, Ohio native transitioned to the Mount Pleasant Library branch at 1133 Mathis Ferry Road, where she would go on to emerge as branch manager in 2015.

In her managerial role, Frohnsdorff supervised every department in an environment that doesn’t quite match popular perceptions of what really happens at the library.

“While most people think you sit and read all day, [it] couldn’t be further from the truth,” said the voracious consumer of the written word who hopes to boost her annual number of readings from 20-30 to maybe 100 or more novels and non-fiction paperbacks.

“I’ve always said that this branch was sort of self-selecting. People didn’t last long if they didn’t work hard. We used to be the busiest branch in the system before Wando [Library] opened. We circulated far more than the main library did.”

In addition, any kind of job within the Mount Pleasant Library, continued Frohnsdorff, requires a particular set of customer service skills that the public expects from a safe and welcoming setting.

Frohnsdorff also recalled being witness to significant changes during her two-plus decades at the Mount Pleasant site, which back in the early part of the century featured a vast assortment of reference books — including encyclopedias — that filled four ranges of shelving.

But as personal information tendencies began shifting from books to Google, the need for reference books waned to where now the Mount Pleasant branch only has 10 percent of the research inventory it once housed.

“So, we have many databases that we didn’t have before ... people want to put stuff to read on their phone or their iPad or whatever rather than necessarily holding a book,” observed the outgoing branch manager. “And yet, there’s still so many people who say, ‘I like the feel of that book.’ And, surprisingly to me, it’s the same people you see on their phones all the time, or rely on their phones to do lots of things.”

Since its recent 2021 remodeling, the Mount Pleasant Library has added space to accommodate more workstations and laptops, as well as augmenting the children’s area. The current staff also places a high premium on meticulously arranging its book displays, which brings in an abundance of intrigued viewers.

In looking back at how the how the library has evolved over the years, Frohnsdorff was especially pleased with community programs that invite patrons to gather, discuss and learn about a range of subjects. Of these, the “Great Decisions” event, welcomes people to discuss foreign policy, while monthly coffee sit-downs afford folks a chance to know more about the library staff and their Mount Pleasant neighbors.

But with some well-earned leisure time in her future, Frohnsdorff can now reflect upon the special qualities of her working environment and what kept her there all those years. Topping the list was the mutual respect between employees, along with a culture of collaboration that has helped the library thrive in recent times.

“I would say that you cannot serve the public without your staff, so put them first and lead with respect,” she said. “Recognize that not everyone is having their best day and that may not be your problem, but maybe you can help.”

Frohnsdorff’s admiration for the staffers she leaves behind is shared by regular patrons and library employees alike, including associate Nancy Nelson, who described the retiring branch manager as an inspiring force.

“I have a special ... what some people call it, a gift. I’m not artistic, but I’m crafty. Susan has always encouraged me and really been positive about the things I make. She likes books, she likes good sculpture I make, and that has endeared me to her because she sees it as something for the library,” shared Nelson, who went on to commend Frohnsdorf for managing each employee individually and always keeping an open door for colleagues to check in and talk about all types of concerns.

With her days in the library — and as a Moultrie News contributor— in the rearview, Frohnsdorff is looking forward to vacation time with Gregory and daughter, Gillian, as well as attending a few Pittsburgh Pirates games and reading a few romance novels and “cozy” mysteries along the way.

Frohnsdorff has no doubts that her successor Sarah Fretz will make a seamless transition at the Mount Pleasant branch where “respect is our primary goal,” she stated proudly.

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Fireworks are illegal in some Lowcountry areas. Here’s where you can set them off

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Ringing in the new year with the pop, sizzle, and bang of colorful fireworks is a New Year’s Eve tradition — but they technically are not allowed in every Lowcountry municipality.Before you run out and purchase a pack (or more) of fireworks, it’s important to know where you can – and cannot – set them off on New Year’s Eve. ...

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Ringing in the new year with the pop, sizzle, and bang of colorful fireworks is a New Year’s Eve tradition — but they technically are not allowed in every Lowcountry municipality.

Before you run out and purchase a pack (or more) of fireworks, it’s important to know where you can – and cannot – set them off on New Year’s Eve.

City of North Charleston – Setting off fireworks is legal year-round from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., and on holidays like New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July, you can set them off until 1:00 a.m.

City of Hanahan – Firecrackers are only legal five days of the year in Hanahan: Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and July 4 from 10:00 a.m. until 10:59 p.m.

City of Goose Creek – You can only shoot fireworks in the city on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and July 4.

Town of Mount Pleasant – You can set off fireworks the day before and the day after a holiday from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. in Mount Pleasant, in addition to the holiday.

Town of James Island – Fireworks are allowed between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. any day including the 4th of July, but that time runs later on New Year’s Eve.

Town of Summerville – People living in town limits can shoot fireworks any day between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., and on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m.

Town of Moncks Corner – Fireworks can be discharged on New Year’s Eve from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m., and on July 4 from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Purchasing and setting off fireworks in the City of Charleston and on most of the islands is prohibited. This includes Folly Beach, the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, West Ashley, and the peninsula. You can use sparklers.

Fireworks are allowed between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve in unincorporated Dorchester County. There are no laws set in unincorporated Charleston County.

If you are unsure, it’s always a safe idea to check with your local government or your Homeowners Association before setting off any fireworks.

Those looking to celebrate the holiday with fireworks are encouraged to be respectful of their neighbors and be reasonable when it comes to the time at which they are igniting fireworks.

Mount Pleasant weighing ban on new slab-built homes in flood zones

The Town of Mount Pleasant is considering a ban on new slab-built single-family homes in flood zones. Also known as “slab-on-grade” or “fill-and-build” construction, the method involves placing homes directly on a concrete slab foundation, which can make those buildings vulnerable to flooding.The practice can also create a domino effect that impacts adjacent homeowners. When trying to ensure new homes reach a certain elevation above sea level, developers often will raise a plot by importing dirt. That practice,...

The Town of Mount Pleasant is considering a ban on new slab-built single-family homes in flood zones. Also known as “slab-on-grade” or “fill-and-build” construction, the method involves placing homes directly on a concrete slab foundation, which can make those buildings vulnerable to flooding.

The practice can also create a domino effect that impacts adjacent homeowners. When trying to ensure new homes reach a certain elevation above sea level, developers often will raise a plot by importing dirt. That practice, multiplied across an entire development, can dramatically shift the hydrology of an area and worsen flooding. Developers often clear-cut trees and other plant life that help capture and control flood water — further complicating an already problematic situation.

Charleston City Council approved an essentially identical ban in April. It was a years-in-the-making policy that involved input from local environmental organizations and developers, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, one of the ban’s key supporters.

Mount Pleasant’s ban would only bar new slab-built homes in the 100-year floodplain. Those are areas that have a 1 percent probability of flooding in any given year.

The proposed ban would go into effect July 1, six months after Charleston’s takes effect. Katherine Gerling, Mount Pleasant’s floodplain manager, said the proposed timing of the ban was intentional.

“This effective date was chosen to kind of see how the city of Charleston is going to manage their ordinance,” Gerling said at a Dec. 13 meeting of Mount Pleasant’s planning commission, where the proposal was under consideration.

Planning Commission member Adam Ferrara expressed concerns that the ban could make it more difficult to build affordable housing in Mount Pleasant, which has seen rising rents and home costs as a result of a decadeslong population boom. Mount Pleasant’s population has roughly tripled since 1990.

“Just bear in mind, that does kind of go against the narrative of trying to build workforce housing that is single-family,” Ferrara said at the meeting. “That does create a cost burden to builders and to homeowners. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that is a result of what we’re doing.”

Despite those concerns, the commission passed the measure unanimously. The ban still needs approval from Mount Pleasant Town Council.

Also at the Dec. 13 meeting, planning commission members voted unanimously in support of a measure extending restrictions on new residential construction in Mount Pleasant. Town leaders enacted that measure in 2019 to curb traffic and strain on local resources in the growing suburbs.

“In response to people that said, ‘We need to have all this development because it’s the only way we’re going to keep real estate reasonable,’ — they are wrong,” commission member Kathy Smith said. “That argument only works when the supply and demand curves are in a state of equilibrium. As long as we are net positive in demand in Mount Pleasant, no matter what we do, prices will go up. You can build until your brains blow out, and the prices will go up.”

The proposed ban would extend the restrictions, which would only permit up to 600 new residences annually, until January 2029. The restrictions also still need approval from the full town council.

Each Friday, the Rising Waters newsletter offers insight into the latest environmental issues impacting the Lowcountry and the rest of the South.

Mount Pleasant plans to limit home building permits until 2029 in effort to slow growth

MOUNT PLEASANT — In an ongoing backlash to years of soaring population growth and traffic complaints, this affluent suburb plans to extend ...

MOUNT PLEASANT — In an ongoing backlash to years of soaring population growth and traffic complaints, this affluent suburb plans to extend strict limits on building permits for another five years.

Just 600 new residences would be permitted yearly in the town of more than 94,000 people, and the actual number would likely be lower.

The yearslong effort to slow residential development by capping building permits is a step no other municipality in South Carolina has taken, but few have experienced growth like Mount Pleasant. The town’s population has roughly doubled since 2000 and tripled since 1990.

“There was concern in the community about our infrastructure being able to keep up with the growth rate, and I don’t think that concern has gone away,” said Councilwoman G.M. Whitley, who put the permit limit extension before Town Council in November.

The measure is scheduled for a Planning Commission hearing Dec. 13, with a final Town Council vote expected in January. The “building permit allocation system” has been in place nearly five years, and instead of expiring in early 2024, it would be extended to 2029.

Mount Pleasant News

It’s among many steps the town has taken to thwart rapid growth. There’s also a moratorium on new apartment construction that’s been in place for seven years, zoning rules have been changed to limit building height and density, and development impact fees were increased dramatically.

In 2018, the year before the permit caps began, the town saw 1,407 new dwelling units — houses, apartments, townhouses and other types of residences. Last year, there were 759.

Graphic: New residential units in Mount Pleasant

Building permit limits that began in early 2019 slowed residential development in Mount Pleasant. The town plans to extend those limits to 2029. NOTE: 2023 data As of novEMBER

The Post and Courier | sOURCE: TOWN OF MOUNT PLEASANT | THE POST AND COURIER

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The permit limits were aimed at slowing the town’s annual growth rate for residences from more than 3 percent to a target of 2.1 percent. The result was a growth rate even lower, marked by a low of 1.29 percent in 2020 when just 520 new residences were built.

Real Estate

Mount Pleasant’s ordinance in 2019 laid out justifications for limiting building permits, and nearly five years later those have not changed.

The ordinance to extend the permit limits uses the same language, which says “the effects of significant growth are apparent and have resulted not only in increased traffic, congestion and noise, but have also burdened the services..” and ”...the town’s road system is barely capable of adequately handling current traffic...”

The permit rules are particularly strict when it comes to higher density multi-family construction, such as apartments and condos. Just 500 new multi-family residences would be allowed over five years, while 2,400 single-family homes could be permitted.

Perhaps surprisingly, despite the limits in place since 2019, hundreds of single-family-home permits went unclaimed.

“Right now we have in excess of 800-900 single-family permits,” said Michele Reed, the town’s planning director.

Real estate professionals said a lack of developable land in Mount Pleasant and the high cost of any land available help explain why hundreds of permits to build houses were not used.

“Mount Pleasant, in a lot of ways, is near build-out,” said Josh Dix, government affairs director for the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for single-family.”

Real Estate

If the town were to annex more properties, that could change. The town is currently in a lawsuit over rules that require property owners to become part of the town in order to get the water and sewer service needed for development.

The suit was filed by owners of a 185-acre tract on the Wando River, known as the Republic tract.

If it were to be developed in the town, Mount Pleasant’s impact fees would apply and permit limits would allow just 25 new homes per developer every six months. If it could be developed as an unincorporated part of Charleston County, town officials have said the county’s zoning would allow about 1,600 homes.

So, Mount Pleasant is mostly built-out, but that could change.

In the current permit-limiting plan that started in 2019, all but 10 of the 500 multi-family permits were claimed, as were all 100 of the permits allowed for accessory dwellings — generally small second homes on the same property as a primary home.

Mount Pleasant News

Unclaimed permits will not roll over into the next proposed 5-year program. And as with the current program, there would be limits on how many single-family permits could be obtained every six months.

Drew Grossklauss, a Mount Pleasant realtor who became president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors in November, said he understands the town needs to address growth but the length of the permit limit extension seems unnecessary.

“I would say five years seems like an extreme to do something,” he said.

There are exceptions to the permit caps. The two developments that have ongoing agreements with the town, Carolina Park and Liberty Hill Farm, are exempt, as are developments of affordable housing.

Real Estate

During the last five years, there was one townhouse development, Gregorie Ferry Towns, that qualified for the affordable housing exception — townhomes started at $279,000 — but real estate professionals doubt private developers could create more.

“The cost of land, the cost of construction — all these things add up,” said Dix. He said allowing more permits for multi-family housing could help create more affordable housing.

“There is a lot of talk from realtors that if we build a lot of multi-family housing, Mount Pleasant would be more affordable, but I think that’s not true,” said Whitley. “They will charge what the market will bear.”

Meet the candidates: Mark Flannery

Tell me about your professional background and how you feel it makes you a good fit to be a council member.I’ve been teaching in Charleston County since 2016. This is my 24th year teaching. The local aspect of teaching, most of my career has been in teaching elementary school, but still the local aspect of working in the community where I live has always been something that I really like. Now I’m in North Charleston, so it’s the greater community where I live. I think this is a theme of why I’v...

Tell me about your professional background and how you feel it makes you a good fit to be a council member.

I’ve been teaching in Charleston County since 2016. This is my 24th year teaching. The local aspect of teaching, most of my career has been in teaching elementary school, but still the local aspect of working in the community where I live has always been something that I really like. Now I’m in North Charleston, so it’s the greater community where I live. I think this is a theme of why I’ve chosen to run for Town Council because I would like to see Mount Pleasant make its own decisions on a local level and be responsible for them and with citizens participating in the process. I lived in France for seven years and I have a Bachelor of Science in French and psychology and a master’s degree in educational technology. I’ve just always been part of the local community and have worked well with others.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the town today, and what plans do you have to address this?

I have a daughter, a six-year-old, and we went to James Island yesterday to go rock climbing in James Island County Park. I would like to see the green spaces improved in Mount Pleasant to make it something where travelers don’t have to go across town to go to the (County) Park. I know that there’s a bike path in … Laurel Hill County Park and just a dirt road going in a half-mile circle and there are things that we can put back there that would be places you can take your kids and take your family.

The other thing is I think that health all across the United States is a problem. We pay more for healthcare. We have more healthcare issues related to obesity and diet. I would like to be somebody who spreads the message of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles lead to better lives. We have a great little local market there at Boone Hall...we have the Farmers Market on Tuesday and Boone Hall is open the rest of the week.

The results of the Public Input Matters survey found that throughout all seven districts in town, respondents feel that traffic in Mount Pleasant needs to be improved. What are some concrete solutions that you feel can address this?

The traffic in Mount Pleasant and housing in Mount Pleasant — I don’t know if ‘victims of our own success’ is the right word for it. We have a very unique geography here. We are a virtual island in that there’s no shortcuts. There’s one way in and one way out. You may come across I-526 or I-26 or you go north towards McClellanville and Georgetown up (Highway) 41. There just isn’t room.

I know that the Town Council has a plan and they’ve already hired a company to look into certain traffic solutions. As a new council member, I’m not sure if I would be able to offer anything different to what they have already decided on.

Another area Public Input Matters survey takers responded to was housing availability. Forty-one percent of respondents felt that affordable housing options should be increased. How do you feel this can be accomplished?

I think it speaks well to the people in Mount Pleasant that we want things for people like affordable housing, but whether or not there is a feasible solution to providing that affordable housing — where are we going to put affordable housing? It makes sense that people want affordable housing but do they want the affordable housing in their backyard?

I want to live locally, I want to buy locally, want to shop locally, but we can’t escape the fact that a lot of our local decisions are made on a state and national and global level. How does Mount Pleasant make affordable housing when the interest rates are 7.75 percent? There are things happening on a national level that we just can’t control that can make our job of creating affordable housing next to impossible.

Is there anyone who has served as a role model to you, either from politics, past experiences or family members, that you look to and consider while you run for office?

One thing my dad always taught us was sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing to do, but you can take solace in the fact that it’s the right thing to do. I am a part owner of a restaurant in Washington, D.C. with my brother Eric and when Washington D.C. decided to impose the vaccine mandate on restaurants … we were the only restaurant in Washington, D.C. to actively say no, we’re not going to check people’s health papers. It was very hard on my brother to do that, and he’s such a big part of the local community. What I just really admired was his courage and even though it financially wasn’t the best decision. Financially, it wasn’t a great decision, but it was the right decision to make and his principles are something that I truly admire and I try to follow that example in my own life.

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