James Island mayor says town won't go down without a fight

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The Town of James Island is no longer a town, according to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The court handed down the unanimous ruling Monday morning, marking the third time the justices have thrown out James Island's attempts to incorporate. The town says it will fight back.

"In conclusion, we hold Town's Petition was not sufficient under section 5-1-24, and therefore we reverse the order of the circuit court upholding Town's most recent attempt at incorporation," the supreme court said.

The town has incorporated three times in the past 20 years, but the first two votes were tossed out as illegal following court challenges from the City of Charleston. In this case, Charleston challenged a 2006 incorporation.

It said that said state law allowing the town to use county, state and federal land to connect otherwise unconnected properties is unconstitutional.

The mayor of James Island says that the town will be petitioning for a rehearing within the next 15 days. James Island Mayor Bill Woolsey says it will be business as usual even though the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled to dissolve the town for the third time.

He says he is not going to let the town go down without a fight. He plans to petition the Supreme Court for a rehearing, which he says will buy the town a little more time. If that doesn't work, he has another plan.

"If it does turn out the town is going to be dissolved, then we will immediately prepare for the fourth incorporation," Woolsey said.

Attorney and former state representative Anne Peterson-Hutto says that may be easier said than done.

"It will be tricky for them to attempt a fourth incorporation, I think, without a change in law," said Peterson-Hutto said.

She says the problem now is a state law that says the town cannot use county land to connect otherwise unconnected properties.

"If you can't use the roadways and the marshes, how you do join the separate pods of people?" she asked.

Woolsey says he is up to the challenge.

"It is possible to form a map that we feel very assuredly would meet the Supreme Court's rules.

Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved.