NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston City Council unanimously approved an annexation Thursday night that the City of Charleston says is illegal.
The annexation consists of 2,200 acres along scenic Highway 61 near Runnymede Plantation.
Charleston officials say North Charleston is trying to jump over a piece of property Charleston owns to snag the land, and the proposed annexation is becoming a tug-of-war between Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey.
"Every city has a right to grow," Summey said.
Whitfield Construction Company has already donated an acre of land to North Charleston which Council voted to annex as well on Thursday. That acre is next to the 2,200 acres North Charleston wants to be part of its city.
But Tecklenburg said there's a problem.
"What they're really doing is trying to use a loophole in accepting that one-acre parcel that the owner gave them, saying because it's in the City of North Charleston property, he can cross over the city of Charleston," he said.
"I disagree with them but that's up to the legal minds to determine," Summey responded. "I'm just an old country boy."
The Whitfield family said on Wednesday they want North Charleston to annex the property to prevent the City of Charleston from taking it first.
"In response to the threatened actions by the City of Charleston to annex our property involuntarily and without discussing it with us, we have asked the City of North Charleston to annex our property," owner Floyd Whitfield said in a statement Wednesday. "We believe property owners should be able to decide which jurisdiction they will be governed by and we have decided we want to be a part of the City of North Charleston."
Tecklenburg said he is concerned that North Charleston wants to develop that large parcel of land. Any major development in that area, he says, will result in even more flooding in the Church Creek drainage basin.
Summey says if the land is developed, it will be done with the flooding issue in mind.
"We don't have any intention of doing anything," Summey said. "If we do anything will be to enhance the drainage."
"The most important part is relating the drainage situation in West Ashley but equally important is preserving and protecting the historic nature of this corridor," Tecklenburg said.
According to the city council agenda, because the owner of the property has petitioned council to annex it, no public hearing is necessary and, if approved, the property would become part of North Charleston's ninth district.
But both cities believe this land dispute will eventually wind up in court.
"This is not the place for intense development," Tecklenburg said.
"They need to understand this is not North Charleston's first rodeo," Summey said.
While North Charleston City Council is expected to give final approval to annexing the one-acre of land and initial approval to annexing the adjacent 2,200 acres during Thursday night's meeting, the City of Charleston expects to begin their annexation process in January.