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Latest News in John's Island, SC
Johns Island conservation easement would protect flood-prone area from development
A 94-acre property on Johns Island that was once the site of a proposed 240-home community may be protected from all future development.Charleston City Council on April 12 approved allocating about $515,000 of its greenbelt funding toward a conservation easement for the property, known as the Oakville Tract.Greenbelt funding is set aside by Charleston County to various municipalities in the county for conservation projects. The Lowcountry Land Trust is drafting the agreement to protect the property and matching the city’s...
A 94-acre property on Johns Island that was once the site of a proposed 240-home community may be protected from all future development.
Charleston City Council on April 12 approved allocating about $515,000 of its greenbelt funding toward a conservation easement for the property, known as the Oakville Tract.
Greenbelt funding is set aside by Charleston County to various municipalities in the county for conservation projects. The Lowcountry Land Trust is drafting the agreement to protect the property and matching the city’s allocation using funds from a grant awarded through the state of South Carolina.
“You wouldn’t want to be developing this site, it’s very low, it’s subject to flooding and it can have an impact on the overall drainage basin,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said during a Charleston City Council Real Estate Committee meeting April 11.
The Charleston Aviation Authority bought two parcels of land in August, including the Oakville tract, to prevent homes from sprouting on the edge of the 1,333-acre Charleston Executive Airport next to the Stono River.
The purchases will allow the airport to widen and extend one of its runways and use the Oakville tract as an undeveloped “clear zone” or safety buffer for the runway. The most that the Aviation Authority could build on the Oakville tract under the proposed conservation easement would be a road connecting different areas of the airport to each other, said City Councilman Karl Brady who represents the area.
“I think its a huge win because the airport gets a buffer zone and we’re able to save that low-lying land,” Brady said.
The 94-acre Oakville tract is mostly located in the city of Charleston but is partially within the county. It is also located entirely within the urban growth boundary, an area where higher density of development is allowed on Johns Island. The low-lying piece of land is also on Burden Creek. Preserving it from development will allow runoff to continue downstream rather than be blocked by homes, roads and businesses.
“There would have been a lot of repercussion upstream,” said Johns Island Taskforce Chairman John Zlogar of the previous proposal to build homes on the property. The task force was established in 2013 to bring together residents and local officials to address Johns Island-specific issues.
The Charleston Aviation Authority bought the Oakville tract and another 43-acre tract for $7.7 million. Out of that, $4.9 million went to the developers of the proposed community on the Oakville tract for the estimated development rights of the land. If the use of the city of Charleston’s allocation of greenbelt funds is given final approval by Charleston County, the Aviation Authority has agreed to donate $3.9 million worth of those development rights, said Natalie Olson, Sea Islands Program Director for the Lowcountry Land Trust.
The grant funds would reimburse the Aviation Authority for about $1 million worth of those land rights. The agency will retain ownership of the property, but the conservation easement will limit all development on it in perpetuity.
City Councilman Ross Appel told members of the Real Estate Committee that it is common for airports to create “buffer zones” along the edges of their properties.
“These airports are economic engines and there is going to be a lot of desire to develop in and around this area,” Appel said.
Charleston County Council’s Finance Committee will vote April 21 whether to approve the city’s allocation of its share of greenbelt funds to the conservation easement. The proposal will then need a final vote from County Council.
The Oakville property is one of several tracts of land on Johns Island that are being considered for greenbelt funds. County Council’s Finance Committee will also consider approving greenbelt funds to place conservation easements on two large properties, a 700-acre tract along the Stono River known as Ravenswood and a 35-acre tract that once included the Sea Islands Farmers Cooperative. The co-op was founded by Black farmers in the 1970s.
Mother starts book drive to honor late daughter, increase access to books
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Kaiea Batts was just fourteen years old when she passed away in a car crash. She was one month away from her 15th birthday. Her mother, Susan, describes her as a “shining light.”“She had a great sense of humor; she loved amusement parks and rollercoasters, reading and dancing,” Susan said.But most of all, Kaiea’s passion was for books.“From the time she was little, she loved to read, and we would spend hours reading together,” Susan said. “And then...
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Kaiea Batts was just fourteen years old when she passed away in a car crash. She was one month away from her 15th birthday. Her mother, Susan, describes her as a “shining light.”
“She had a great sense of humor; she loved amusement parks and rollercoasters, reading and dancing,” Susan said.
But most of all, Kaiea’s passion was for books.
“From the time she was little, she loved to read, and we would spend hours reading together,” Susan said. “And then when she was old enough to read by herself, she would just go to the library and get tons of books out and just spend hours reading.”
Susan wanted to find a way to keep her daughter’s memory alive.
She decided to start the Great Wave Book Drive. Kaiea’s name means “great wave” in Hawaiian.
The book drive began in April with a goal of collecting 50 books for Lowcountry Orphan Relief and 100 books for a village in Mexico that’s trying to build a library. Now, over 2,000 books have been donated in just a few weeks.
There are bins at some businesses where people can drop off books. One of those bins is at Angel Oak Crossfit on Johns Island. Owner Megan Flora trained Kaiea twice a week for over a year.
“Never a second thought to do anything I can to continue to kind of honor her memory,” Flora said.
The bin at Angel Oak Crossfit is full. Some of the books in those bins will go towards helping the abused, abandoned and neglected children at Lowcountry Orphan Relief. They package up care kits with clothing, toiletries, stuffed animals and books for up to 5,000 children a year in the Lowcountry.
“We feel that it’s not only a comfort piece, but it also fosters their creativity, their education,” Lowcountry Orphan Relief Marketing Coordinator Caroline Johnson said. “It’s a really big important piece of what we do in our outreach for these children because it allows them to kind of escape their situations and grows their imaginations.”
Susan says Kaiea was aware of the need for books, and she believed having access to books is a human right.
“During COVID, when the library shut down, we started buying books, she was very much aware that not everyone could go to the bookstore or go and order a lot of books,” Susan said.
Susan said they’re going to continue the drive through May, and annually she plans to do a drive every April to fill bookshelves that need to be filled.
“For each book that comes in, I feel like it’s a book where someone had said her name or thought about her, and it definitely means a lot,” Susan said.
“It’s also just so important to take any type of upsetting event and make the best of that situation and continue to try to help others,” Flora said. “Even if we experience some of our pitfalls, there’s so much more positive that we continue to do, and that certainly is just a great circle to make everyone feel better.”
You can find bins at some other local businesses in the area, including Art Place Studio in Mount Pleasant, Estuary Beans & Barley on Johns Island, Charleston Distilling Company on Johns Island, and the Dance Conservatory of Charleston in West Ashley.
For more information, you can head to greatwavebookdrive.com.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Johns Island residents speaking out after Charleston Co. considers 95-acre land purchase
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – A proposed land purchase on Johns Island is raising concern among some residents.Charleston County is considering buying 95 acres of land along Humbert and Main Roads for a temporary hurricane debris management site. The Charleston County Public Works Department first brought this proposal to County Council in late January.“I think right now the folks on Johns Island are primarily concerned about what impact, if any, this is going to be on their quality of life,” said longtime Johns...
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – A proposed land purchase on Johns Island is raising concern among some residents.
Charleston County is considering buying 95 acres of land along Humbert and Main Roads for a temporary hurricane debris management site. The Charleston County Public Works Department first brought this proposal to County Council in late January.
“I think right now the folks on Johns Island are primarily concerned about what impact, if any, this is going to be on their quality of life,” said longtime Johns Island resident Joe Boykin.
Public works officials said they were hoping to explore a number of uses for the land, including using it as a site to chip, haul or burn debris, using the curtain burning method. Officials are also looking into the possibility of using the land for a borrow pit site.
Multiple Johns Island residents spoke out against this proposal during the County Council meeting on February 1. Council tabled the decision and will revisit in a month.
“To tell you the truth, I think that our council members, they feel we need to back off of this because we didn’t have a whole lot of information, a lot of input before from the community and now that we are hearing from them, their voice is loud and clear to us,” said Councilwoman Anna Johnson.
Johnson said she was opposed to the purchase when she heard the plans. Johnson told News 2 she is inviting residents to join her at Council Chambers on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. to discuss this matter.
County Council member Jenny Honeycutt released a statement on the matter. She said in part, “I have confirmed this afternoon (Friday) that burning is no longer being sought as a use for this site.”
Some Johns Island residents are planning to meet in the Berkeley Electric parking lot Saturday at 9:00 a.m. to speak out against the plan.
Officials with the Public Works Department said the land would be a beneficial purchase because it falls under the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation quarantine area which would allow for processing of vegetative debris that is not allowed to be moved for fear of spreading the insects to new areas.
Boykin said he understands why the County would want to use this land but feels there needs to be more information on the potential impacts.
“We need to know a lot about what this incineration process is all about, what impacts it may have on air quality, water quality, noise. It could potentially impact folks that live nearby,” said Boykin. “I am withholding my position on this until I can learn more of the facts.”
Johns Island welcomes California luxury hotel company
Charleston remains a popular destination, and the city’s expanding luxury hotel scene reflects that trend.California-based Auberge Resorts Collection plans to debut its first planned luxury hotel in South Carolina come 2024 in the form of The Dunlin, located within the Kiawah River master-planned community on Johns Island.In partnership with real estate developer ...
Charleston remains a popular destination, and the city’s expanding luxury hotel scene reflects that trend.
California-based Auberge Resorts Collection plans to debut its first planned luxury hotel in South Carolina come 2024 in the form of The Dunlin, located within the Kiawah River master-planned community on Johns Island.
“The Dunlin will offer an unforgettable escape where guests can immerse themselves in the pristine natural setting of Johns Island and the culturally rich attractions of Charleston,” Auberge Chairman Dan Friedkin said in a statement.
The Dunlin property will include 72 cottage-style guest rooms and suites and 19 villas, as well as a main lodge and porch, great rooms and a library lounge. Amenities encompass a pool with cabanas, full-service spa, community farmstead, and access to the community’s Spring House riverfront swim and fitness facilities.
A riverfront restaurant with outdoor deck will also be available, as will two event spaces, including a 10,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor event hall.
“We are pleased to partner with Auberge Resorts Collection to create The Dunlin, which will be one of the most remarkable new resorts in the country,” Beach Co. CEO John Darby said. “Auberge has a terrific track record of creating the most unique hospitality experiences in the world, and this endeavor’s intimate setting will bring highly personalized service with a coastal experience inspired by the local environment.”
Built into the Kiawah River community, which puts emphasis in natural surrounding elements, The Dunlin will consist of 2,000 acres of land with 20 miles of riverfront nature trails and marshlands. Guests will be able to participate in nature excursions on the property, including fly fishing, crabbing and boating, as well as paddle boarding, hiking and biking.
Architect Robert Glazier was chosen to design the resort, and Amanda Lindroth of Lindroth Design will lead the interior design of the property.
Construction financing was provided by United Bank’s Charleston offices.
Johns Island neighbors are organizing against potential hurricane debris burn site
JOHNS ISLAND — As Charleston County decides whether to buy 95 acres on this sea island to manage hurricane wreckage, nearby residents are speaking out against the move.Several people showed up to the Feb. 1 County Council meeting, urging the panel not to allow burning and dirt mining on the parcels. They cited concerns about air quality from smoke and trucks running up and down Johns Island’s already clogged roads. Some have organized a planned meeting for concerned neighbors on Feb. 5, when they will convene to discuss th...
JOHNS ISLAND — As Charleston County decides whether to buy 95 acres on this sea island to manage hurricane wreckage, nearby residents are speaking out against the move.
Several people showed up to the Feb. 1 County Council meeting, urging the panel not to allow burning and dirt mining on the parcels. They cited concerns about air quality from smoke and trucks running up and down Johns Island’s already clogged roads. Some have organized a planned meeting for concerned neighbors on Feb. 5, when they will convene to discuss the matter further.
“It just feels like another punch in the gut as a Johns Island resident, to be honest with you,” Becca Nexsen, who lives near the site, told The Post and Courier. “We have unbridled development, there’s so little infrastructure … we’re Charleston County’s dumping ground. Of course we’re going to get this.”
The proposal to buy three tracts of farmland between Humbert Road and Main Road, known locally as Grayson Oaks, first came before County Council in a committee meeting in late January. Eric Adams, the county’s deputy director for public works, told The Post and Courier the site could be used to burn fallen tree limbs and vegetation after a major storm, to turn this material into wood chips, or as a possible dirt mine.
One of the reasons the land is attractive to the county is because of an infestation of invasive Asian longhorned beetles. A large swath of southern Charleston County is inside a beetle quarantine area, and wood cannot legally be removed without being processed or shredded into small pieces first. The Grayson Oaks land is inside that boundary, and thus, could handle debris inside of it too.
But Ted Cadmus, who lives in the Gift Plantation neighborhood less than a mile away, said the smoke would be a nuisance to local property values, and that additional trucks to and from the site would stress already-packed roads.
“I kind of don’t care if it is infrequent or frequent as far as the burning is concerned,” Cadmus said. Even if the county uses special burning methods to lessen smoke, he said, “the same pollutants are going to be thrown off.”
Cadmus also worried about ash from the fire polluting groundwater, and thus, wells in the area around it. One of the speakers at the County Council meeting also said he and others off Humbert Road use well water and could be affected.
Patricia Fair, a researcher who has spent decades studying environmental contamination, spoke at the council meeting and wrote them a letter describing the potential health effects of wood smoke. Fair, who also lives in Gift Plantation and works as adjunct faculty for the Medical University of South Carolina, wrote that the fine particulate matter in smoke, or soot, can cause a bevy of health effects.
“These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they may cause burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses, such as bronchitis,” Fair wrote. “Fine particles can make asthma symptoms worse and trigger asthma attacks. Fine particles can also trigger heart attacks, stroke, irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure, especially in people who are already at risk for these conditions.”
Council members appeared split on the issue at their Feb. 1 meeting, with some expressing concern over potential nuisances from the site, and others saying that this kind of hurricane cleanup work was simply not optional and needed a reliable location.
“If there’s a valid need and there’s property, we’ve got to try and figure out a way to make it work,” Councilman Brantley Moody said. “We’ve got to find places to do this (type of work) that are other than just stick it in North Charleston.”
But Councilwoman Anna Johnson, who represents Johns Island, said the additional traffic strain on Main Road wouldn’t work, and the St. Johns Fire District is already stretched thin by residents’ reports of smoke from rural burning elsewhere on the island.
She questioned whether the county is considering the land “because it’s available to be purchased, or because we need some place to burn, or we need a (dirt) pit?”
Ultimately, County Council tabled the issue for a month.
But residents will continue to organize in the meantime. A meeting has been set for 9 a.m. on Feb. 5, in the parking lot of Berkeley Electric Cooperative at 1135 Main Road.