Charleston City Council Makes Preemptive Strike in Land Battle

Charleston City Council Makes Preemptive Strike in Land Battle

The Charleston City Council is in a race with North Charleston to annex over 5,000 acres of land in West Ashley.  North Charleston recently positioned itself to annex a large piece of land with more than 5,000 acres along S.C. Highway 61. The Charleston City Council made a preemptive strike at the end of December to annex the land first.   The massive land grab includes a 2,200 acre property owned by Whitfield Construction Co. that the city claims North Charleston is plotting to annex.

The city of Charleston does not need permission from Whitfield Construction to annex the land since under state law a municipality can do so with the consent of 75 percent of the area’s property owners with 75 percent of the total assessed value in the land. Charleston has received the required number of annexation requests from property owners surrounding the Whitfield property to meet these requirements.

Charleston proceeded in the same manner under these requirements when it annexed Daniel Island in the early 1990s, one of the largest annexation moves in the city’s history.  The move to annex the West Ashley tract is also considered to be one of the largest with an area of land about the size of the Charleston peninsula.

The Whitfield family owns Runnymede Plantation located between the Ashley River and S.C. Highway 61.  North Charleston annexed this property, and added an additional acre after the family donated it to the city. The Charleston City Council plans to challenge this action since the additional acre is on the other side of the highway.  The S.C. Supreme Court has rules that a municipality can only annex land that is contiguous with the city’s territory. Charleston plans to continue its efforts to stop North Charleston’s scheme to expand westward beyond the Runnymede Plantation. Property owners in the area are fearful that North Charleston will zone the agricultural land as business or residential, and make flooding and traffic issues worse. Charleston said that annexing the Whitfield property is necessary to help the city in its long term plans to improve drainage in the area, since it is land that is often subject to flooding. If North Charleston successfully annexes the land, it would also be violating the urban growth boundary, established by the city and Charleston County to protect rural areas and limit urban sprawl, said city attorney Frances Cantwell.

Source: Post & Courier, “Charleston makes a move in land battle,” by Abigail Darlington, December 20, 2017

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