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African-American settlement communities concerned over future developments

(Source: Live 5) (Source: Live 5)
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) -

Several Charleston County African-American settlement communities expressed concern to the Charleston County Planning Commission Monday as developers look to build homes in the Snowden community.

During the meeting, the county presented a survey they conducted on the communities. Members of the communities went to hear the findings.

“If we approach our elected officials and make them aware of our desire to maintain our historic communities that we have a better chance if we demonstrate it’s not just one but many communities,” Thomasena Stokes Marshall said.

The Snowden, Phillips, East Cooper, and Cainhoy Huger communities raised four issues that the communities are currently facing.

Richard Habersham with the Phillips community said the communities need special zoning designations. He said the only way to preserve the African American communities is to implement special zoning laws to protect and preserve the settlement communities.

Chris Collins with the Snowden community talked about the Gullah Geechee Culture Heritage Corridor Act that preserves and protects the Gullah Geechee people’s settlement communities.

Edward Lee with the Scanlonville community raised the issue of property tax increase and concerns that would happen if developers were to develop land on these settlements.

Currently, Snowden residents are facing the issue of developers wanting to develop homes on a 20-acre lot in the community.

The land was purchased by an AME Church in the early 2000s. After not being unsuccessful in starting a church, the land owners are looking to sell to a developer.

That prompted several Snowden residents to attend the meeting in hopes of creating new special zoning regulations within the communities.

"It’s going to change the layout of Snowden, it’s going to change our tax base and unfortunately people in our community is on a fixed income we’re not gonna be able to afford that tax that’s gonna affect us when a developer comes in making three, four, hundred thousand dollar homes,” Donna Newton said.

Snowden residents said developers are running out of property and are now targeting the African-American communities.

“Number one, we realize you cannot stop anyone from selling their property,” Marshall said. "Number two, if you have a developer coming into your community our hope is the developer can be sensitive to our needs and our concerns with preserving the community and work and collaborate with us as opposed to just coming in, throwing up three four five hundred thousand dollar homes. And normally what they do is put up a fence to block out the people who live in the community who have been living there for hundreds of years.

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