James Island takes incorporation battle to state Supreme Court

Residents board a bus to Columbia to say they want to be part of their own community and go by their own rules.
Residents board a bus to Columbia to say they want to be part of their own community and go by their own rules.

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - It was Charleston versus James Island in State Supreme Court. Charleston is arguing that James Island should not be incorporated into its own town, a fight that goes back 18 years.

Residents say they want to be part of their own community and go by their own rules.

"We're not a town because we want to be in the City of Charleston. The whole point is we don't want the City of Charleston as our municipality. We want our own say. It's just the rights of the people," Paul Hadley said.

Hadley heard the arguments of both sides in court. He was one of about 25 James Island residents who took a bus from James Island to Columbia for the Supreme Court hearing.

"I hope that the justices will rule in our favor. The residents of James Island need their own government," Bill "Cubby" Wilder said.

The town filed for incorporation back in 2006, after two previous failed attempts.

In court, City of Charleston attorney Frances Cantwell told the State Supreme Court Justices that James Island's incorporation is invalid because the paperwork was improperly filed and not all of the land on James Island is contiguous, or touching the rest of the town, a requirement for incorporation. James Island Mayor Bill Woolsey says the town took steps to ensure everything was done right.

"I believe that the town was formed properly. The vast majority of people on James Island support the town. The Supreme Court should decide to allow us to keep our town," Mayor Woolsey said.

For now the statements have been made and the evidence has been presented from both sides.

The future of James Island's incorporation rests in the hands the State's Supreme Court.

This is the third time James Island has been before the State Supreme Court fighting for incorporation. The James Island mayor says if they fail again, they will try again.

The Supreme Court's decision could take months.

If incorporation fails, residents on James Island would be able to annex themselves into Charleston, but only if their property currently touches property that is already part of the city.

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