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Latest News in James Island, SC
Thursday headlines: Breakaway churches ordered by high court to return property to national Episcopalians
Nearly a decade ago, more than two dozen parishes broke away from the national Episcopal Church. But on Wednesday after years of legal wrangling, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered 14 of the 29 parishes that broke away must return its property to the Episcopal Church and its ...
Nearly a decade ago, more than two dozen parishes broke away from the national Episcopal Church. But on Wednesday after years of legal wrangling, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered 14 of the 29 parishes that broke away must return its property to the Episcopal Church and its affiliated South Carolina diocese. The court also ordered turnover of Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island to the national church, which is represented by 29 parishes from Charleston to Columbia.
Among the breakaway churches in what is called the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina that will have to hand over their property include congregations in Charleston (Good Shepherd, Old St. Andrew’s, Holy Trinity) and Sumter, Walterboro, Hilton Head Island, Stateburg, Mount Pleasant (Christ Church) and James Island. Those not affected by the ruling include historic St. Phillip’s and St. Michael’s in downtown Charleston as well as churches in Bluffton, Beaufort, Conway, Summerville and Orangeburg.
In other recent headlines:
S.C. court halts execution by firing squad. The state Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on Wednesday, delaying its first-ever execution by firing squad due to a litigation in another court challenging the constitutionality of South Carolina’s execution methods.
S.C. Senate unanimously supports early voting. The South Carolina senate is showing unanimous, bipartisan support for an early voting bill that unanimously passed in the S.C. House in March. But in doing so, added that senators have the power to confirm the governor’s choices for the director and the five members of the board of the South Carolina Election Commission. The House is unlikely to approve the changes.
S.C. bill to curb abortions advances. The bill will give women 18 and older more access to birth control or other hormonal contraceptives by going directly to a pharmacist without a doctor’s prescription.
Proposal to bring new life to old West Ashley grocery store lot. The West Ashley Revitalization Commission heard a proposal on Monday of turning the old Piggly Wiggly property on Sam Rittenberg Blvd. into a community hub, consisting of small businesses, a restaurant with rooftop dining and city offices to the property.
Charleston residents want to limit student-style housing in neighborhoods. Charleston-area residents, mainly those who live in the downtown peninsula, attended a city planning commission meeting to join talks of developers building student-style housing from Radcliffe Street to Market Street. The City of Charleston proposed an overlay zone requiring more requirements for developers to purchase land and build housing.
To get dozens of South Carolina news stories every business day, contact the folks at SC Clips.
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Work on freestanding James Island ER to begin this week
JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) — A new medical facility is coming to James Island. Prep work on Trident Health’s new freestanding ER is expected to kick off this week.Trident Health officials say in just a year’s time from now, the James Island facility will give more immediate access to emergency care residents in the area.While rain delayed the official groundbreaking Monday, it will not slow down the work that will begin onsite. Trident Health officials say site prep is expected to begin in the coming days and m...
JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) — A new medical facility is coming to James Island. Prep work on Trident Health’s new freestanding ER is expected to kick off this week.
Trident Health officials say in just a year’s time from now, the James Island facility will give more immediate access to emergency care residents in the area.
While rain delayed the official groundbreaking Monday, it will not slow down the work that will begin onsite. Trident Health officials say site prep is expected to begin in the coming days and materials will soon be brought to the new location at 945 Folly Road, located right across from the Palmetto Goodwill.
The $12.5 million facility will have 11 in-patient beds to start out, with the ability to grow to fit even more beds. It will be equipped with advanced imaging and diagnostic labs, as well as stroke and behavioral health telemedicine services.
Trident’s President and CEO Christina Oh says it was her connection to similar underserved communities which pushed her to expand Trident’s resources to the James Island area.
“It's really exciting to see that now we have an opportunity to bring emergency services and all the associated care that comes with that to a community that's needed it for a very long time. I’m from southern West Virginia, so I have a special passion, especially with my family coming from a public health background, I have a special passion for bringing health care, especially emergency care to communities that traditionally have not been exposed to it,” Oh said.
This will be Trident’s fourth freestanding Emergency Room facility, adding to locations in Monck’s Corner, Brighton Park and North Charleston, whose facilities served over 150,000 patients in 2021 alone.
A free-standing ER facility allows for the same emergency medical care given at larger medical center, like Trident Medical Center’s headquarters in North Charleston. However, the services would be within a smaller facility right in a community’s backyard.
Doctors say that not having to drive the extra 30 to 40 minutes to a medical center or ER facility can be the difference between life and death.
Facilities like the James Island ER can help stabilize patients in need of immediate care in situations such as strokes, heart attacks and other high trauma injuries until they can get to a larger medical center for further treatment.
The ER can also alleviate pressure on emergency departments at larger facilities when they are at capacity.
Trident Medical Center’s facilities helped over 350,000 people annually over the course of the pandemic and doctors say it was the challenges faced during those times which made expanding their resources a primary concern.
“I think COVID brought to light how important it was to have everybody to make sure that everybody has access to health care and to high quality health care,” Emergency Medical Physician with Trident Health, Ibrahim Isa said. “So when you improve your outreach and improve how easy it is for people to seek emergency medical care, you can actually improve outcomes and how healthy people are in some of these communities.”
The freestanding ER on James Island will be open for use 24/7 and is expected to be up and running by April of 2023.
The original groundbreaking ceremony was set for today at 10 a.m. Monday, but due to weather conditions, it will be pushed back two weeks to Monday, May 2 at the same time.
Charleston County told to expect revised cost estimates for $2.3B Mark Clark Extension
State Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said the new $2.35 billion price tag for the Mark Clark Extension could change within months in a presentation to Charleston County Council.For now, some county officials are choking on the idea of having to come up with $1.9 billion as Charleston County’s share of the road plan. An earlier, outdated estimate put the county’s cost share at $305 million.“I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry,” Councilman Henry Darby said. “I would never, ever go...
State Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said the new $2.35 billion price tag for the Mark Clark Extension could change within months in a presentation to Charleston County Council.
For now, some county officials are choking on the idea of having to come up with $1.9 billion as Charleston County’s share of the road plan. An earlier, outdated estimate put the county’s cost share at $305 million.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry,” Councilman Henry Darby said. “I would never, ever go with this.”
The long-planned Mark Clark Extension would extend Interstate 526 from its terminus at U.S. Highway 17 in West Ashley across the Stono River to Johns Island, where it would be a 45-mph parkway. Then it would cross the Stono River again to James Island, to connect with the James Island Connector at Folly Road.
The parkway would cover a distance of less than 8 miles, but the project involves two new bridges, connecting roads, wetlands and property acquisition costs that all drive up the price.
Under a 2019 agreement the county signed, the state’s share of the project is capped at $420 million, so all of the cost increase would be borne by the county. The last cost estimate was calculated in 2014. The project is slated for completion in 2035.
“I look forward to renegotiating with the state and looking for a path forward,” Councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt said.
The new estimate was sent to the county on April 25, and Hall went over the details at the council’s Finance Committee meeting May 5.
Hall stressed that with a large and complex road project, costs are difficult to nail down. She said DOT has reached out to road and bridge contractors to review the new estimate and expects to update the potential cost in 90 to 120 days.
Mark Clark Extension Project Director Jay Mattox said the $2.35 billion estimate was the result of a detailed and lengthy review.
“We ran this simulation that simulated the project tens of thousands of times and basically came up with $2.3 billion in all the different scenarios as the likely (maximum) cost,” Mattox said.
He said DOT came up with a base cost of $1.6 billion — the county’s share in that scenario would be $1.18 billion — then factored in things such as likely litigation and inflation.
“Even if our responsibility is $1.5 billion, that’s out of our league,” Councilman Dickie Schweers said. “We can’t play in that game. The state should be running this whole project.”
Knowing that DOT will be coming back in months with a potentially different estimate relieved County Council of having to make a decision soon, but the county has been asked to commit within six months to moving forward with continuing work at a cost of $75 million.
“The need for the project is obvious,” said Hall, citing the area’s rapid population growth.
She said the county’s ongoing plans to spend more than $200 million on traffic improvements along Main Road on Johns Island, and at the U.S. Highway 17 intersection, will help but won’t be enough.
The road project has the support of Charleston business and real estate groups, the City of Charleston, and the county. It’s opposed by conservation and wildlife groups, and residents have been divided.
Councilman Brantley Moody, who supports the Mark Clark Extension, blamed the rising costs on delays caused by opponents of the project. According to Mattox’s presentation, delays have added $112 million to the cost estimate.
Hall said DOT has concluded that the project is so large that it should be done in two phases, starting with extending the road from West Ashley across Johns Island. That’s meant to ensure that the job’s not too big, in order to get competitive bids if the project reaches that point.
Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said that when DOT comes back with the refined cost estimates in several months “then council can dive into this and figure out what to do.”
Editorial: Find better traffic solutions for West Ashley than I-526 extension
THE EDITORIAL STAFFhttps://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-find-better-traffic-solutions-for-west-ashley-than-i-526-extension/article_a4910c8e-cb07-11ec-8f10-b7d904e0fae3.html
Skeptics of extending Interstate 526 from U.S. Highway 17 to Johns and James islands have called the project “a code, not a road,” a pithy rhyme that describes the project’s impracticality while recognizing the serious traffic problems — and the very real frustrations over those problems — that supporters have hoped the new road would magically solve.But with its price tag rising from $725 million several years ago to $2.35 billion today, and with Charleston County required to pay all but $380 million of ...
Skeptics of extending Interstate 526 from U.S. Highway 17 to Johns and James islands have called the project “a code, not a road,” a pithy rhyme that describes the project’s impracticality while recognizing the serious traffic problems — and the very real frustrations over those problems — that supporters have hoped the new road would magically solve.
But with its price tag rising from $725 million several years ago to $2.35 billion today, and with Charleston County required to pay all but $380 million of that — the state capped its commitment at $420 million and already has spent more than $45 million toward that cap — the project’s status has gone from impractical to practically ridiculous. Or, as Councilman Henry Darby said Thursday, “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Instead of getting kicked by the mule yet again, it’s time for Charleston County and state transportation officials to back away from the special status of this project, also known as the Mark Clark extension (even though it would be a 45 mph parkway, not an interstate), and instead redouble their efforts on other traffic solutions that can be completed more quickly, less expensively and with more widespread public favor.
This road is going nowhere fast, but that reality must not make officials too complacent to tackle the serious congestion problems that made extension advocates think it was a good idea in the first place. Even if a magical solution were to appear, the extension still would take more than a dozen years to build. S.C. Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall has recommended proceeding with about $150 million in engineering work to get the project ready for bid, but we urge her and Charleston County not to spend another cent.
Instead, they should use that money to launch a special planning effort to identify better options for easing congestion in West Ashley as well as on Johns and James islands. That would move us toward a solution faster than somehow hoping there will be a way forward for the Mark Clark extension when the state Transportation Department returns to the county in a few months with an even more refined cost estimate. Some council members suggest opponents have delayed 526 and driven up its costs. Even if that were true, and we would argue it’s not, they should think about this: Now that it costs more than $1 billion more, are those opponents going to give up now?
There are other solutions that aren’t as dramatic but also wouldn’t be nearly as costly or controversial, such as building the “pitchfork” roads on both sides of Maybank Highway from River Road to the Stono River bridge. The ongoing work to address Main Road, from Bees Ferry to Betsy Kerrison, also will help, and there are other projects in West Ashley that could help, too. We also believe our tax dollars would be better spent beginning a study on a bus rapid transit line through West Ashley similar to the one being developed along Rivers Avenue. In other words, we should seek many solutions, not a single, prohibitively expensive one.
Extending Interstate 526 across Johns and James islands in particular was never a good idea because of the environmental damage involved and the dubious impact it would have on traffic congestion, particularly when measured by the bang for the buck. More cost-effective solutions can address traffic without marring the edges of these two sea islands.
Look at it another way: From a traffic engineering standpoint, it might be easier to get around the Charleston region if Interstate 526 were extended from where it ends at U.S. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant through the Old Village and across the Cooper River to where the James Island connector touches down on the peninsula. It would be like building our own ring road, like Interstate 285 around Atlanta.
Of course, nobody has suggested that — for a multitude of reasons that go far beyond cost.
For years, development on Johns Island has been allowed to spread rapidly while road improvements lagged far behind, a scenario that has played out in other parts of the Charleston metro area. Anyone who lives on Johns Island or travels there knows it’s a frustrating problem that also impacts West Ashley and James Island. But that’s another reason why state and local officials should step back from their grand 526 extension plan and refocus their thinking on more cost-effective, practical traffic solutions.
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SC DHEC board adds new stipulation to permit for planned Point Farm mitigation bank
WADMALAW ISLAND — Developers of a wetlands mitigation bank on this sea island must now submit a sediment sampling plan for approval by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in order to receive a permit.The permit was already approved by DHEC’s staff, but environmentalists and Wadmalaw Island residents asked the agency to review the document and reverse the choice to let the work go forward.Mitigation banks are private commercial entities meant to offset wetland destruction. While federal law requir...
WADMALAW ISLAND — Developers of a wetlands mitigation bank on this sea island must now submit a sediment sampling plan for approval by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in order to receive a permit.
The permit was already approved by DHEC’s staff, but environmentalists and Wadmalaw Island residents asked the agency to review the document and reverse the choice to let the work go forward.
Mitigation banks are private commercial entities meant to offset wetland destruction. While federal law requires building projects to avoid harming wetlands, when that is not possible, developers must pay to create more wetlands in the same watershed where the old ones were destroyed.
The banks do the work in advance, and entities can buy credits from them equal to the amount of the lost wetlands.
One concern is that this project near the Leadenwah Creek would introduce salt into a freshwater habitat used by a number of animals, including the threatened American wood stork.
The plan by Point Farm MB LLC is meant to enhance and restore tidal salt marsh on more than 2,000 acres in Charleston County, the company said in a permit application to the state. It expects to remove earthen dikes that have held back ocean water from fresh wetlands.
The proposal would change a salty pond to tidal salt marsh, turn 10.14 acres of freshwater impoundments brackish, and expand 20.60 acres of tidal salt marsh and creeks into currently impounded ponds.
Following a final review conference on May 5, the DHEC board voted to support its staff’s initial decision, but with a special condition: The developers must now submit a sediment sampling plan for the department’s approval.
Environmentalists are concerned that there hasn’t been any soil or sediment testing to determine if there are any pollutants that went into the holding ponds for the 50 to 60 years they were used for agricultural purposes.
Point Farm already has plans to drain the ponds for testing before construction begins there, said Ross Nelson, president of American Mitigation Co., the firm that represents Point Farm.
“We want to drain everything out and make sure the sediments are right and in place and that they’re ready for planting before we start removing the berms,” Nelson said at the DHEC board meeting May 5.
If testing is done and it is determined the sediment contains toxins, they should be removed, said Dr. Joe Kelley, a former biology professor at The Citadel.
“If it turns out that the sediments are not highly contaminated, then that’s what we hope for,” Kelley said. The best case would be a freshwater pond that provides good habitat for birds and other organizations, he said.
Wadmalaw Island contains very little fresh water. The limited freshwater wetlands on the island have functioned for hundreds of years as important habitats for wading birds and other wildlife, said Jason Crowley, Coastal Conservation League’s communities and transportation senior program director.
“And why would you want to lose that?” Kelley said at the board meeting on May 5.
Wadmalaw Island residents and environmentalists are also concerned that by only protecting a 50-foot strip of high ground next to the marshy mitigation bank, the property would be at risk of stormwater runoff if development happens close by, Crowley said.
Another concern covers the low-lying area’s susceptibility to sea level rise and marsh migration. Crowley said the narrow buffer won’t allow the marsh to move far as sea levels rise.
The vote on May 5 puts further stipulations on the planned mitigation that has already hit other roadblocks. Plans for the bank were stalled April 4 when the Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals denied two variance requests for the project.
Point Farm Investors LLC wanted the board to approve the removal of a grand live oak tree and allow encroachment into 1.3 acres of protected buffer next to tidal land. But the board voted unanimously to deny both requests because the property could still be used without variances.
The bank cannot be opened without the zoning permissions because of areas on the property where developers would have to breach berms that block tidal flow from coming in, said attorney Mary Shahid, who spoke on behalf of the bank at the BZA meeting on April 4.
Nelson, the American Mitigation Co. president, is a BZA member, and was appointed by Charleston County Councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt.
“If we could get maybe some clarification on what zoning amendments might need to be made to address any of that, I would appreciate a response,” Honeycutt said at a County Council meeting last month.
The bank’s developers have the right to appeal the zoning board’s decision to deny the variance request.
The planned bank already has support from Charleston County, although it is uncertain if the project will move forward. The county has paid at least $14.8 million to reserve credits from the bank.
A copy of the county’s Aug. 31, 2021, agreement with Point Farm MB and American Mitigation Co., said it bought into the bank to offset salt marsh impacts from transportation projects. Among those projects is the planned extension of Interstate 526 through Johns and James islands.
The county committed to buy 440 salt marsh mitigation credits at $45,000 each, according to a purchase agreement signed by County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor.
A deposit of $14,850,000, or 75 percent of the total purchase price, was due within 30 days of the effective date of the agreement to reserve the credits. County spokeswoman Kelsey Barlow confirmed April 7 the money has already been paid.
Barlow said the county was working on a path forward regarding the Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision.
The agreement said if the bank fails to have access to the mitigation credits, the seller is required to return the county’s deposit, in addition to all other payments made to the bank. This does not include payments made for credits already purchased and transferred to the county, but it’s unclear if any of them have been delivered.