MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Business and property owners were upset by a town council meeting focusing on appraising business properties near Shem Creek as the city looks towards expanding the park to the east side of the creek.
This is near the construction site of a controversial office building at Coleman Boulevard and Mill Street.
In a special council meeting Friday to consider Shem Creek Park Phase 3, 15 properties were listed on the agenda to discuss whether they would be sought after the city for appraisals. By the end of the meeting four were targeted including Carole Olindo's property, the former Sette Restaurant.
"We just found out this afternoon a couple of hours before that meeting took place that they want to take the property away from us," Olindo said. "We bought the property in September and we have worked very very hard with an architect to make it a very nice Shem Creek style."
Councilman Joe Bustos says the town is in the information gathering stage.
"Unfortunately, a couple of our council members spread the word that there was going to be the use of eminent domain tonight, and there was nothing further from the truth," Bustos said.
In the meeting the council voted to have the town staff look into how much it would cost to conduct appraisals on businesses that are not for sale. They also voted to create design plans for a project on that land.
"We just took the next step, because at the end of the day when staff brings back all the costs we might look at it and say, 'It's too big, it's too expensive, it's too onerous,' but it may not," Bustos said.
The "may not" is what upsets business and landowners like William Simmons, whose family owns Snowmill LLC property, about three acres, on Mill Street.
"We're against selling it so to me it's a waste of tax money to go any further with it," Simmons said. "My brother and sister and their families and all derive their income off of it and that's just like cutting the income off."
Financial chair and councilman Elton Carrier did not support the appraisals.
"This is a sad day in the history of Mt. Pleasant," Carrier said.
"It's not only worth money, it's worth our work and our future," Olindo said. "I'm just totally depressed."
There were three votes against looking into getting appraisals including Mayor Linda Page. Many community members also questioned the short time frame in which the meeting was called and the lack of communication between property owners who's land is now desired by the city.