City of Charleston Comprehensive Plan Update


The Comprehensive Plan is the overarching planning document that outlines goals for the next decade of growth in the City of Charleston. The plan guides local decision makers in managing change in our city, including how and where we develop, natural and cultural resources, affordable housing, economic growth, transportation, energy and more. South Carolina state law requires municipalities to create, implement, and regulate local growth and redevelopment through comprehensive plans & zoning and land development regulation ordinances that must be reviewed every five years and updated every ten.


The City of Charleston’s current comprehensive plan is called the Century V plan and was last updated in 2010. The new plan, updated in 2021 will be called the City Plan.The majority of the draft City Plan sets a positive vision for the way the city should grow into the future. Most of the draft plan is based on sound science and seeks to turn around past land-use mistakes that led to increased traffic and flooding and to our region being less affordable. This major 10-year update gives the city an opportunity to get it right this time around.

The challenges the City is facing today were hard to imagine a decade ago – like increasing effects from climate change: sea level rise and more frequent storm events. This ten year update to the comprehensive plan is a prime opportunity to address changes that need to be made in the city to be resilient into the future.

Resilient Approaches to Land Use

The City Plan is laying the framework that will be needed to update our land use policies. An elevation based zoning approach will help guide new developments to higher ground away from low lying flood prone areas. Green infrastructure and nature-based solutions will help maintain the health of our ecosystem and natural environment as we grow and develop into the future. Solidifying the Urban Growth Boundary will help conserve our rural areas and guide future growth toward areas where infrastructure already exists.

This ten-year update to the comprehensive plan is our best chance to shape the future according to science-based facts. Existing community and expert led initiatives such as the City’s Flooding and Sea Level Rise Strategy, the Johns Island Community Plan and the Dutch Dialogues Final Report have helped to clearly define local improvements that need to be made to properly address development related challenges like flooding and traffic. The formal incorporation of these well formulated plans into the City Plan is a good first step towards meaningful implementation of strategies identified throughout existing plans.


There is still time to make your voice heard in the City’s Comprehensive Plan update process.

Let City Council know that two key areas of the plan—the extension of Interstate 526 and the Future Land Use Map recommendations for the upper Cainhoy peninsula—are inconsistent with the positive new direction the city should be setting for future growth. 

  • First, the City Plan currently endorses the extension of I-526 across Johns and James islands. The proposed 8-mile road extension with a $725 million price tag—an amount that likely will increase when an updated estimate is completed—will not solve traffic congestion, places pressure on rural areas with important cultural resources, promotes automobile dependent transportation, and pulls money away from other transportation priorities. Tell City Council that the I-526 extension (recommendation 12) should be removed from the City Plan.
  • Second, we have concerns about the way the plan will steer growth on the upper half of the Cainhoy peninsula—a massive, 9,000-acre tract of land northeast of Daniel Island that is one of the last remaining undeveloped areas in the city. The plan endorses suburban growth across the entire upper Cainhoy, but we want to see growth concentrated along Clements Ferry Road to protect our natural and cultural resources. Tell City Council to adjust the Future Land Use Map recommendations for upper Cainhoy from Suburban and Suburban Edge to Low Impact/Conserved.

You can read more about the call for a delicate balance on Cainhoy in our op-ed that ran in The Post and Courier a few weeks ago. And you can review the latest version of the draft City Plan here.

The city held a public hearing on July 20, and City Council is slated to make a final decision in September. Thank you to so many of our supporters who have submitted comments. At this point in the process, the best way to get involved is to contact your council member directly. 

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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