James Island residents express concern over proposed development filling wetlands

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 4:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - People who live on James Island are rallying together and encouraging an email campaign against a development off of Folly Road and Grimball Road Extension.

The development would build 68 townhomes, 5 workforce units and commercial space. It would also allow for filling in 0.23 acres of freshwater non-tidal forested wetlands.

Greg Payton lives on Donnie Road, right off of Grimball Extension. His family has lived in the home and community for more than 100 years. The proposed development would back up to his home. He says he is worried about a lot of things, including stormwater runoff and traffic.

“They want to fill in the wetlands, and they’re going to have to cut down some trees, so if it rains, where is the water going to go? It’s going to come on our families, it’s going to be in our backyards and we’re going to be flooded under,” Payton says.

He also has concerns about how the amount of people moving in would affect traffic and the livability of his neighborhood.

“I say each unit is two cars, that’s 140, where are they going?” Payton asks “People have to go to work in the morning, how long will it take for people to come down Grimball Road Extension?”

He says he wants to attend a public hearing about the plans.

“We want to make sure that if they are going to build something, that they do it correctly,” Payton says.

The applicant developers are requesting to fill a little less than a quarter of an acre of wetlands. That filling would not have “a substantial adverse impact,” according to an Army Corps of Engineers initial study. The study found the filling would have ‘no effect’ on any federally endangered or threatened species.

The applicant is asking to fill .2 acres to construct a commercial parking lot and the other .03 to install a stormwater drainage structure, according to a June 24th, 2022, Army Corps of Engineers’ notice.

The report says the applicant will preserve the remaining .75 acres of wetlands to compensate for any impacts.

The Army Corps of Engineers is taking comments on the project through Monday, July 11. Operators of the ‘Save James Island’ Facebook page are encouraging people who are opposed to sending an email reading in part:

“I oppose the filling of any wetlands (no matter how ‘small’)…this historic area is plagued by flooding and drainage issues, and the preservation of natural wetlands and trees are our best and least-costly defense. Pleas hold a public hearing so the Army Corps of Engineers has ALL of the information, including the voice of the people who live here.”

The applicant appeared before Charleston City Technical Review Committee in April and is working to resolve some of the comments before coming back with a revised plan for the development.

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