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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
Mount Pleasant resident Charles Claus started a petition recently to convince town officials to ask for a variance to rebuild three tennis courts on Royall Avenue rather than the allowable two.
Given a new flood overlay for the Old Village, impermeable surfaces for "new construction" cannot exceed 40 percent. As engineered, the new courts would have impermeable coverage of 52 percent, which is less than the current impermeable surface of approximately 60 percent.
Claus described the conditions of the courts that exist now as in 'catastrophic disrepair.'
"They were constructed roughly five decades ago and have far outlived the 20-year lifetime of a typical hard court," he said.
Claus approached town officials three years ago to start the process of having the courts replaced.
In October 2016, a contract was awarded from the Federal Land & Water Community Fund for $195,250 for the removal and construction of three new courts with substantially reduced light pollution.
In March 2017, the town approved the remaining funds (approximately $200,000) in their fiscal year 2017-18 budget. "With funds fully approved, demolition and reconstruction appeared imminent," he said.
However, Claus explained, that is not going to be the case. The town is planning to only build two courts, instead of three.
"As anyone knows, these three courts are under tremendous demand and as is, wait times can be substantial," the petition reads. "The increased use by the town's phenomenal coaching staff will only add to the demand and, with only two courts, it will be virtually impossible to gain access without prohibitive wait times."
After consulting with various individuals of the town, the Old Village Historic District Committee, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and others, it is Claus' understanding that it would be easy for a variance to be granted considering the long standing history of the three courts, using predated zoning, and the fact that it's a town facility.
Supporters are being asked to sign the petition and to encourage the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department director Steve Gergick to request a variance.
"Should they be unwilling, I hereby request that the town recreation committee, town council, town administrator Eric DeMoura, and Mayor Haynie, to do whatever it takes to ensure this community asset is in no way diminished," Claus said.
Claus coaches the Mount Pleasant Academy tennis team and they practice at the Old Village courts. He said that one court is in total disrepair and with only two courts there is a bottleneck and given the demand - even with three courts. The closest courts to Royall Avenue are on Whipple Road.
Claus predicts that town officials will ultimately dig in their heals and say 'if we request to approve a variance for our self we'll set a precedence and then we'll have to do it for homeowners.'
"Right now because of the flood issues and the price tag to fix the courts, town officials are reluctant to make a big deal out of this or request the variance," Claus said. To view the petition visit, change.org/RoyallAvenueTennisCourtProject.
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