QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES: Bill McIntosh | Community News … – Charleston Post Courier

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Clear skies. Low 59F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: October 27, 2023 @ 9:10 pm
Bill McIntosh

Bill McIntosh
Editor’s note: Candidates running opposed races for Summerville mayor and the Summerville Town Council District 2 seat were all asked to respond to the following questions. All candidates received the same set of questions and were asked to limit their responses to around 1,000 words total.
NAME: Bill McIntosh
AGE: 57
CANDIDATE FOR: Town Council, District 2
FAMILY: Two daughters, Mary Lesesne McIntosh, 25, and Frances McIntosh, 23; parents, William E. “Doc” McIntosh, 94, and Katherine B. “Kitty” McIntosh, 87; siblings, Julie McIntosh Stephenson and Lachlan McIntosh.
OCCUPATION: Attorney and Counselor at Law
POLITICAL OR OTHER RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Summerville Town Council, 2011-23 [Mayor Pro Tempore, 2021-22; Chairman, Public Safety Committee, 2022-23; Chairman, Planning and Economic Development Committee, 2011-2016 & 2019-2022; Mayor’s Designee, Charleston Area Transportation Study (CHATS), 2011-2016]; Trustee, Pinewood Preparatory School, 2009-2018 [Vice-Chairman, 2016-18; Executive Committee, 2012-2018; Co-Chairman, Head of School Search Committee, 2017-18; Co-Chair, Development Committee (2015-16), Chairman, Governance Committee (2013-2016)]; Director, Flowertown Players, 2020-23 [Vice-President, 2020-22, Treasurer 2022-23]; Director, Summerville-Dorchester Museum, 2008-2011.
Q-1. DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS: The past 40 years of Summerville’s growth has almost entirely taken the form of suburban sprawl. The town hasn’t grown so much as it’s been encircled by disjointed islands of residential subdivisions and commercial strip centers. Do you agree with this pattern of development, and would you encourage more of it? If not, what specifically do you propose instead, and how would you achieve it?
McIntosh: This pattern of development rarely nets additional revenue for the town and often does not pay for itself. Rather, the cost of providing services to new subdivisions equals or often exceeds the amount of new revenues generated by the annexation. I would not encourage more of the same. As a matter of policy, I believe any future residential annexation should be restricted to single-family residences that can and will pay for themselves – that is, the town should only annex single-family residences that will generate revenues which equal or exceed the costs of providing services.  As a matter of course, new residential annexations should reverse the pattern of annexing outwardly and focus instead on filling those “doughnut holes” closest to the town’s center caused by the patchwork of suburban sprawl over the last four decades. 
Q-2. ANNEXATION: The town currently has no discernible shape, boundary, or contiguity. What is your position on further annexation? At what point is the town sufficiently big? Should the town grow?
McIntosh: The town should grow – but growth should be slow, steady and sustainable. Between 2010 and 2022, the town grew less than 2% annually (from 43,392 in 2010 to 51,617 in 2022). Unincorporated Dorchester and Berkeley counties and the cities of North Charleston and Goose Creek have grown much faster to their (and to our) detriment. Unfortunately, Summerville Town Council has shifted dramatically in the last 18 or so months toward supporting hyper-density, multi-family development. The last thing we should be doing is trying to “keep up with the Joneses” out in the counties or in Goose Creek or North Charleston. Town council needs to reverse its recent shift toward annexing and approving hyper-density development. If council returns to a “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” approach to growth, Summerville’s population could level off at 55,000–57,000 in 2030 and perhaps 60,000–62,000 in 2040.  That would be sustainable, manageable growth that should at a minimum pay for itself.
Q-3. DOWNTOWN: Should the downtown experience be limited to south of the train tracks or expanded north of the tracks? Do you like North Main Street as it is, or should it be developed? What should it look like? Please give specific examples from other towns.
McIntosh: Our Historic Downtown Business District starts at the intersection of North Main and Highway 78 and goes past town hall to Azalea Park. The revitalization of Hutchinson Square has spurred an incredible downtown experience in the South Main portion of our historic downtown. A significant opportunity awaits north of the railroad tracks out to Highway 78. Thanks to Rep. Chris Murphy and our local legislative delegation, there is now $12 million available to revitalize that North Main portion of our historic downtown to include burying overhead utilities and wires and building full sidewalks. But with opportunity comes threats. Redevelopment of North Main should not include demolition of any portion of the historic county hospital building or any approval of any new buildings that obscure in any way the view of the historic building or in any way impede public access to it from North Main. Rather, the parking lot in front the historic county hospital should be redeveloped as a town square rivaling or besting Hutchinson Square. The town – not Dorchester County and not a private developer – should take the lead in creating this second town square.  
Q-4. BUSINESSES: Many small and mid-sized businesses choose to locate in the more tax- and business-friendly Berkeley County. What, specifically, would you do to attract Main Street businesses downtown?
McIntosh: We should create a tax and regulatory environment that fosters entrepreneurship and creativity across the board. We should immediately repeal the disastrous 2022 Terry Jenkins Property Tax Increase and look for ways to reduce property taxes and business license fees in the future. We must simplify and streamline the regulatory process for entrepreneurs looking to relocate or expand here – particularly in our historic downtown business district. What town government should not do is pick winners and losers in the market by incentivizing particular businesses to locate here. Importantly, this shift to a low-tax, low-fee simplified regulatory approach would and should benefit our existing business owners and not put them at a competitive disadvantage to new “government-incentivized” competition.
 
Q-5. QUALITY OF LIFE: What issues, specifically, do you include in “quality of life”? In what order would you prioritize these quality-of-life issues compared to other issues?
McIntosh: First and foremost, quality-of-life means being safe and secure in your homes, in your person and in your possessions. Public safety has always been “Job 1” for the town of Summerville, and always should be. Next, our neighborhoods should be livable with adequate stormwater drainage, safe streets and sidewalks and quality, efficient and cost-effective solid waste management provided by the town’s public works department. The ability to travel safely and efficiently throughout town is an extremely important quality-of-life issue. Finally, our citizens should be able to enjoy the natural beauty of Summerville by taking advantage of first-rate parks and other recreational opportunities provided by our parks and recreation department.
 
Q-6. WALKABILITY: Despite the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which calls for developing a walkable and pedestrian-oriented downtown by prioritizing sidewalk and crosswalk projects, very little has been done since the plan was adopted in 2020. Do residents have a fundamental right to safely and comfortably walk on streets and cross intersections? Should children be able to walk or bike to a friend’s house, school, or nearby store, especially in the core area of Summerville? If yes, where is this on your priority list? If you’re an incumbent, please explain why there has been so little progress. Do you pledge to fund sidewalk and crosswalk projects and in what timeframe should Summerville meet this objective?
McIntosh: The ability to move freely and safely whether on foot or bicycle or in a vehicle is an extremely important quality-of-life concern.  I agree that sidewalk construction needs to be a higher priority – especially in the core area of Summerville.  I was proud to have “led the charge” to fund the sidewalk project for Central Avenue to Parsons Road, but there are other worthy sidewalk projects that need immediate attention.  
Q-7. TRAFFIC: Aside from using coordinated traffic light timing to maintain uninterrupted automobile flow through intersections, there are two basic approaches to mitigating road congestion: 1. widening roads to make multi-lane thoroughfares that function as machines for moving cars, but that are dangerous for pedestrians and rupture the town fabric; or 2. increasing the connectivity of the street grid network to diffuse cars across multiple smaller streets, each designed for pedestrian scale and suitable for businesses and homes. Which approach do you favor? Are there other measures you propose?
McIntosh: Within town, increasing connectivity through a grid or network of streets should be the favored approach. Unfortunately, the “road widening” approach has been necessitated by rampant growth outside of town limits. Rampant overdevelopment in unincorporated Berkeley and Dorchester counties is the primary cause of traffic congestion within town. Fortunately, these local county governments recognize this fact and have taken most of the financial responsibility for the “fixes” (Berlin G. Myers, North Maple Street, Highway 78 widening).  It is incumbent on town council to not add to the problem by approving annexations or re-zonings that would lead to high-density overdevelopment within town and to correct past mistakes by improving connectivity within the Town’s grid of streets.
Q-8. PARKS: How important are parks and where are they on your priority list? Should public parks be passive (woods and trails), or should they also have active components and offer a wide variety of uses? Do you favor having more community-oriented parks that are directly accessible by residents by walking, or larger regional parks accessible primarily by car?
McIntosh: My priority list starts with public safety (police, fire and dispatch), and then with public works (stormwater, streets and waste management). That said, Summerville was put on the map by its parks and by its natural beauty. Without Azalea Park, there is no Flowertown Festival. I strongly support passive parks such as the Summerville Ashley River Preserve now under development as well as the proposed passive park for the historic Woodlands tract. I also heavily favor community-oriented parks and recreation facilities directly accessible by residents over larger, regional parks. Our responsibility starts and ends with the citizens of our town.
 
Q-9. WOODLANDS: What should be done with the Woodlands property? Should the land, or at least most of it, be developed into a community park, as initially planned by town council?
McIntosh: Once the North Maple Street project is completed, some 20 acres of the publicly owned, historic Woodlands tract will become available for public use. I believe the town should retain ownership of at least 12-15 acres for a passive park and botanical garden that would rival or best Azalea Park and pay tribute to the legacy of the property and its longtime owners (noted botanist) Alain White who developed The Woodlands from 1939 until his death and Mrs. Ruth Walker Gadsden who preserved it until her death in 1980. I support the town’s efforts to sell the four acres bisected by the North Maple project. Proceeds from the sale of the bisected four acres should be dedicated to development of the passive park and botanical garden.
 
Q-10. RECREATION FACILITIES: The town’s Comprehensive Plan recommends developing several community centers and athletic facilities throughout Summerville to provide residents with resources close to their neighborhoods. Do you agree with this approach, or do you support building a single, eight-gym sports complex geared toward regional events, as recently proposed by some politicians?
McIntosh: I definitely agree with the town’s approach of providing recreational opportunities close to our citizens close to their neighborhoods. The renovation and adaptive re-use of the old armory as the Rollins Edwards Community Center focusing on public recreation was an absolute home run. On the other hand, I adamantly opposed the proposal to build the “regional sports complex” on the historic Woodlands Tract that would have put local government into the “sports tourism” business competing with other regions for “travel ball” tournaments and the like. That proposal was incredibly disrespectful to our citizens in the Gadsden neighborhood, the historic district, and the historic Brownsville community. The town’s parks and recreation department should be focused on providing cost-effective recreational opportunities to our citizens.
Editor’s note: Candidates running opposed races for Summerville mayor and the Summerville Town Council District 2 seat were all asked to respond to the following questions. All candidates received the same set of questions and were asked to limit their responses to around 1,000 words total. Read moreQUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES: Tiffany Johnson-Wilson
Editor’s note: Candidates running opposed races for Summerville mayor and the Summerville Town Council District 2 seat were all asked to respond to the following questions. All candidates received the same set of questions and were asked to limit their responses to around 1,000 words total. Read moreQUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES: Bill McIntosh
Editor’s not… Read moreQUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES: Vickie Fagan
Editor’s not… Read moreQUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES: Dickie Miler
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