BCD Council of GovernmentsApril 2012
The BCDCOG in brief
Welcome to the BCD Council of Governments digital newsletter. This newsletter is published once a month to bring you highlights of projects and activities being undertaken at the agency. Should you have any questions or would like to request additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Celebrating and Promoting Fair Housing

The BCD Council of Governments assists local governments with the administration of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. One of the conditions of receiving CDBG funds is to take proactive steps to further fair housing. To this end, participants in the CDBG program take time to observe April 2012 as the 44th Anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Congress amended the Fair Housing Act in 1998 to provide stiffer penalties, establish an administrative enforcement mechanism, and expand its coverage to prohibit discrimination on the basis of familial status and disability.


In 1989 South Carolina passed a Fair Housing Law that provides rights and remedies substantially equivalent to those found in the Federal Fair Housing Act. At the time of passage, South Carolina was the first state in the Southeast Region, and the second State in the nation to pass a Fair Housing Law recognized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as being substantially equivalent to the National Fair Housing Law. By resolution, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties, and the Towns of Harleyville, Moncks Corner, and St. Stephen have all officially designated April 2012 as Fair Housing Month.


When the Fair Housing Act was first passed, racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods were generally discussed only in terms of benefits to racial or ethnic  minorities. Today, many recognize that diverse neighborhoods have tangible benefits for all people who live in them and that true diversity is more than just "racial integration". Rather, a diverse community is one where all residents are included, where no group is privileged above any other group, and where everyone has equal access to opportunity.


Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968 to guarantee the right to choose where to live without facing discrimination or legally imposed obstacles. This is a core value that needs no additional justification. But it is also important to recognize the other benefits and values that are promoted by inclusive and diverse communities:


  • Inclusive, diverse communities have quality schools with diverse student bodies that enhance outcomes for all children.
  • Inclusive, diverse communities have a healthy, robust market that competes for buyers and renters from all racial and ethnic groups in a region and cannot be easily targeted by predatory lenders.
  • Inclusive, diverse communities contribute to the regional economy with a range of housing choices for workers of all income ranges, and help to prevent the harmful concentration of racially isolated poverty at the core of the metropolitan region.
  • Inclusive, diverse communities incorporate accessible design and housing options that maximize inclusion of persons with disabilities in the build environment and in communications.
  • Inclusive, diverse communities successfully resist sprawl and its negative social and environmental impacts by consolidating growth for a mixed income, diverse population along efficient transportation corridors and by bringing workers closer to regional job centers.


The goal of the fair housing movement is to support and promote these inclusive, diverse communities of choice: communities and neighborhoods where families choose to live; where housing and schools are stable and well supported; where employment is accessible; and where all racial and ethnic groups, and persons with disabilities, are an integral part of the larger community.
Our Region Our Plan 
 A draft Regional Plan is on the horizon! The BCDCOG's Regional Planning Initiative, Our Region Our Plan, is a tri-county effort to produce a shared regional vision for our quality of life and long range growth. To achieve this vision, the Plan will include a number of agreed upon strategies that can direct our region's strengths and assets to meet these common economic, community and quality of life goals. A Preferred Scenario was presented to the COG's Regional Plan Planning Committees on March 27th. This scenario for growth in the region identified principal centers (villages, towns, and cities of various scales), corridors (roads, rail, water, and natural/trail systems), and recognition of existing green infrastructure (protected, recreation/open space, and agricultural lands). Committee members considered the results of analyses conducted which compared the oropPreferred Scenario for growth and development with the efficiency of past growth and development trends. Of note, the Preferred Plan Scenario indicates potential for an overall 22% decrease in annual congestion costs attributable to the region's transportation system in the year 2040 despite the estimated addition of 213,000 residents and 100,000 employees. With feedback from the Committees on the Preferred Scenario and potential implementation strategies, the planning team is now drafting plan policies and strategies acceptable to the region that will achieve its vision and goals. The team anticipates the draft to be completed and delivered by mid-Summer for the Board's consideration. Please visit the project website at www.OurRegionOurPlan.org or contact Kathryn Basha at kathrynb@bcdcog.com.
Partnership for Prosperity, Draft Master Plan in Refinement
The Partnership for Prosperity, draft master recommendations for the future of the Neck area of Charleston and North Charleston, was presented to the public at an open house hosted by the BCDCOG on March 1st. Attendees were able to review and offer comments on the plan, identify their priorities and talk with staff and consultants about ways to move the plan forward toward becoming reality. ParticipantNeck Logo comments and identified priorities are under consideration by the consulting team and agency staff as they move forward to prepare a final report outlining the recommendations and implementation strategies later this summer. Public input is always welcomed on this Master Plan for the Neck area. Interested persons are invited to visit the project website at www.neckprosperity.org and complete a short survey on project priorities, view the open house presentation and find additional project information. If you have any questions, please contact Kathryn Basha at kathrynb@bcdcog.com .
Costs and Benefits of Vanpooling

The BCDCOG is interested in hearing from area employers looking at the costs and benefits of vanpooling programs for their employees. A commuter vanpool is defined as a group of seven to fifteen people who ride to and from work each day in a comfortable passenger van. Vanpools can benefit both the companies and the employees. Van pool drivers are rewarded by usually riding free, receiving personal use of the van, and sustaining less wear on personal automobiles. Riders are rewarded by saving money on gas costs, being able to read the paper, sleep, or socialize during the daily commute, potentially reducing personal auto insurance premiums and sustaining less wear on personal automobiles. Companies benefit from vanpooling because employees are willing to work farther from home if they know they do not have to drive every day; peer pressure also keeps tardy people from holding up the vanpool. Employers who sponsor commuter vanpool programs can also recapture some of their costs by claiming a tax credit for purchasing or leasing vanpool vehicles. The costs of vanpooling can vary depending on the type of vanpooling program used (company or employee operated), whether an organization buys or leases the van and the size of the fleet vehicles. Companies in the troicounty area interested in hearing more about vanpooling including how to partner with other organizations should contact the BCDCOG Mobility Manager Vonie Gilreath at vonieg@bcdcog.com or (843) 529-0400.

Berkeley Middle School Travel Plan

The BCDCOG, in partnership with the SC Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Center, has selected Berkeley Middle School in the Town of Moncks Corner to receive special Safe Routes to School technical assistance. The assistance will result in a travel plan with implementation strategies and funding options to make walking, biking and traveling to the school safer and healthier. The first meeting with community and school stakeholders will take place on May 15th. The three hour workshop will include a walk audit to identify barriers for this neighborhood school with a large walking and biking population. The finalized travel plan will be completed in the fall and include the SRTS program goals of combining engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation and encouragement strategies to make walking and biking to school more sustainable. For more information, please contact the BCDCOG Mobility Manager, Vonie Gilreath at vonieg@bcdcog.com or (843) 529-0400 ext. 202.

In This Issue
Celebrating and Promoting Fair Housing
Our Region Our Plan Update
Partnership for Prosperity: Draft Master Plan in Refinement
Costs and Benefits of Vanpooling
Berkeley Middle School Travel Plan
Quick Links
TriCounty Link's Dorchester Connector 
Residents of Dorchester County can now travel between Summerville and St. George on a new commuter route that operates Monday through Friday from 6am until 7pm. According to Executive Director Will Hutto, "With gas prices steadily increasing, the Dorchester Connector will not only be a more cost effective long term alternative to driving, but the new service will be FREE during the first three months, April 2 through June 29th". The buses are also equipped with FREE wireless internet and each time you ride, you will be eligible to win a flat screen television. The winning entry will be determined at the end of the three month period and the winner notified by July 9th.  
BCDCOG to Offer Planning Training
The BCDCOG staff, approved as facilitators by the State, will be offering orientation training sessions for newly appointed planning/zoning officials and planning staff. Three different sessions are scheduled around the region. The cost of the training is $25 and can be billed to the applicable local government. Please contact Chris Whittaker at (843) 529-0400 if you have officials or staff who would like to attend or if you have any questions. 



BCDCOG Revolving Loan Fund Can Assist Local Businesses


The BCDCOG's Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) currently has funds to loan. The RLF's primary goal is job creation and retention. It is designed to assist businesses whose projects will improve the tri-county economy. Eligible uses for loans include the purchase of equipment and land, and the improvement of real estate and building facilities. Contact us today for more information.

National Bike to School Day - May 9th


 Schools throughout the BCD Region will be participating in the first National Bike to School Day on May 9th as part of the 2012 National Bike Month in May.


National Bike to School Day is based on the Walk to School Day model as a way to bring community leaders and children together to build awareness for communities to be more bikeable. Schools may register to participate through the SC Safe Routes to School Center website. Registered schools and resources will then be entered to win a Saris bike rack being given away by the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools.


Trident Rideshare Provides Company Rideshare Sites

The BCDCOG's free Trident Rideshare program has been updated and now gives employers and schools the option to have their own rideshare matching site. Employers provide registered rideshare users with a pass code so that they can easily find a good carpool match based on user defined proximity, a variety of personal preferences, and time of commute. Registered users of the sites will be eligible for the Emergency Ride Home Program as an additional incentive to utilize alternative transportation modes.

Trident Rideshare is a free and convenient web-based service that connects commuters looking to share cars, bicycles, taxi, and transit or walking trip in the region. Sharing a ride is not only fun but it helps preserve air quality, decreases traffic congestion, conserves fuel, promotes better health and saves you money - all at the same time!