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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

New neighborhood a lawsuit away

Land disputes halt potential development
Charlotte Baxter

A lawsuit between the Town of Mount Pleasant and the owners of Mount Pleasant’s last undeveloped waterfront property is underway. It will decide if the property, the Republic Tract, will become the location of 1,600 new residential units. The Republic Tract is located just off of Highway 41 and borders the Wando River, but while it is in the Mount Pleasant area, it is not technically under their jurisdiction, but it is under Charleston County’s.

Shelby Seabuck, a passionate local and town council candidate elaborates on the importance of this unique jurisdiction.

“The problem is that they have septic there, so they have to have water and sewer to build the way they want to build,” Seabuck said. “The industrial zoning for Charleston County has a unique caveat to it, that yes it can be developed with housing on it, which is unusual for industrial [zoning], but the other part of that is with septic they can only have one residential unit per acre.”

The way around these limitations is through having access to sewer and water connections, which increases the limit of residential units from one to 16 per acre. Since the owners of the property want to sell their land, and the highest bidder intends to turn it into a large, high density residential space; they need sewer and water access. If they don’t get access the buyer will not purchase the property.

“The property owner is suing the town for not providing them sewer service, and our defense is that we don’t have to provide sewer service,” Ed Demoura, the town administrator said. “If they were to annex into the town, the town would not approve, because they have to annex the property and then the town would have to put a zoning classification on it, and our zoning would allow for much less [people].”

The town is taking this stance to help defend a crowded town from even more growth.

“[We’re fighting to protect] the quality of life for our residents,” Demoura said.

To understand the influence of residential development on the local area, it is important to understand the size of the land as well as the amount of land that would actually have housing on it.

“[The Republic Tract] is 180 acres, 40 of it is wetland, so it can’t be developed, and so there’s 140 acres remaining of what we would call developable land,” Demoura said.

Then, the land requires utilities to facilitate its growth.

“It takes about a third of a property’s land to accommodate things necessary for development… What I mean by that is roadways, stormwater retention ponds, a third of that land has got to be taken up… It leaves roughly 100 acres of land left to build stuff on,” Demoura said.

Doing the math, that results in around 1600 residential units total. These units would most likely be apartments or condos which are classified as multi-family units. This growth is the main concern for the town, as they are already dealing with overcrowding.

“Highway 41 is the only road in town that grades an F… dumping 1600 housing units onto [that] road, [That would be a lot of traffic],” Demoura said.

Senior Luke VanMiddlesworth, who knows about the project and lives near the tract reached the same consensus.

“Mount Pleasant is already a crowded town, and it’s just going to add to that,” VanMiddlesworth said. “There’s actually quite a bit of land out there… there could be another 200 kids who need to go to Wando, or more.”

Other options for the land are available if the lawsuit is ruled in favor of the town. The owners could sell it to a business, o r they may sell it to the town, as the town did offer to buy it in the past.

“We, the town, offered to buy the property early on… we put in a bid to purchase it… our purpose of putting a bid in on the property was to preserve it forever for the public’s use, like a park, maybe with a boat launch on it,” Demoura said.

It is important to remember that the lawsuit is still in litigation, and there is little information on when it may end. According to Seabuck and others, it appears that the chance
of victory is 50-50.

Demoura believes otherwise.

“We believe we will prevail,” Demoura said.

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