Judge rules in favor of WestEdge to fill, cap Gadsden Creek on peninsula
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge has ruled in favor of the nonprofit WestEdge Foundation to fill and cap Gadsden Creek, consisting of around four acres of land on the Charleston peninsula.
Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III rendered his ruling on Monday in favor of the nonprofit, which was created by the City of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.
“This was a challenging case, and the Court does not lightly approve of the elimination of critical area tidelands that are so integral to the health, welfare, and vibrancy of our natural ecosystem here in South Carolina,” Anderson wrote in his final conclusion. “However, this case presents a unique hurdle of a naturalized drainage ditch for a landfill that is now being contaminated by that landfill.”
Gadsden Creek was originally a 100-acre salt marsh found on the peninsula. In the 1950s, the City of Charleston began filling in the creek with trash before it obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cap the creek in the 1970s.
The judge’s order also states water from the creek has tested positive for high levels of pollution, such as lead and arsenic.
In July 2021, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control authorized WestEdge with a permit to fill in and cap the remaining 3.9 acres of the creek.
The creek runs from the Ashley River, alongside WestEdge’s property on Lockwood Drive before ending at the corner of Hagood Avenue and Fishburne Street.
According to the judge’s order, WestEdge plans to create three drainage pipes to move the water out of the area once the creek and landfill is capped. The nonprofit also plans to buy mitigation credits for 20 to 25 acres of wetlands along King’s Grant on the Ashley River to offset the creek’s elimination.
Friends of Gadsden Creek, being represented by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, filed suit against the non-profit in October 2021, and the case was heard over several days in June 2022.
The South Carolina Environmental Law Project released a statement Tuesday afternoon:
Certainly, we are disappointed that the permit was affirmed by the ALC and respectfully disagree with many of the Court’s conclusions and analyses. We are glad the Court noted that “FOGC has some valid concerns” regarding this proposed project and that the Court rejected the rationale DHEC employed to approve the permit in the first place. I anticipate Friends of Gadsden Creek will have additional comments on this decision in the near future.
Friends of Gadsden Creek has not yet responded to requests for comment on the judge’s ruling.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.