JAMES ISLAND — Developers of a proposed 284-unit apartment building on Maybank Highway received conceptual approval of their plan Thursday from a city of Charleston design board, even as local residents continued to argue the effort is too large and out of character for the island.

“I just think this is going to stick out like a sore thumb,” local resident Rob Turkewitz said of the four-story apartment proposed for behind the James Island Shopping Center.

“It’s not ‘right’ there,” he added, “right in our face.”

The conceptual approval, by the Design Review Board, is not the last word on the site since the board suggested a number of additions. They range from simple cosmetic changes, to landscaping additions and suggesting a better presentation of bike paths and public bus access.

But the fact the board cannot address the already set dense zoning is still irking many who say local roads cannot absorb the hundreds more cars daily that nearly 300 apartments are expected to attract.

“The design itself is just not in keeping with the character of James Island,” Eugene Platt, of the James Island Public Service District Commission, told the design board. The site is governed by a “gathering place” zoning classification, which allows for a dense mix of residential, business and commercial offerings.

The four-story apartment building, supported by a six-level parking garage, would go on about 5 acres of a 22-acre parcel, though earlier this week the development team announced it was decreasing the proposed size, including reducing the number of apartments from 316 units to the 284.

Conceptual approval passed by a 3-1 vote of the board, with chairperson Ashley Jennings voting against it.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.