SELC opposes plan to destroy 200 acres of S.C. wetlands for development

Filling more than 200 acres of valuable wetlands in the Charleston area would give stormwater even fewer places to go. (© Alan Cressler)

The state’s environmental agency has granted a pair of certifications for a Charleston-area developer to fill more than 200 acres of wetlands in one of the city’s most flood prone areas, but SELC is asking that the approvals be reconsidered.

SELC is requesting from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control a board hearing on the two certifications granted to the developers of the proposed nearly 3,200-acre Long Savannah development project, slated as a mix of housing and commercial construction.

The proposed project is controversial because it would add development and destroy wetlands in an area where that combination has conspired to make the area notorious for ongoing flooding.

“So many of the homes in the Church Creek basin area of Charleston have suffered flood damage year after year because builders have repeatedly destroyed the wetlands that protect us from flooding,” said Chris DeScherer, managing attorney of SELC’s Charleston office. “It doesn’t seem like a good idea to fill another 200 acres of valuable wetlands and give stormwater even fewer places to go.”

Flooding in the area has been so persistent that, last year, the owners of 32 condominiums in the Shadowmoss neighborhood accepted federal buyouts for their repeatedly damaged properties. Construction crews razed the buildings.

SELC has hired experts to examine the Long Savannah developer’s plans. The experts concluded that planned stormwater ponds and a proposed rerouting of stormwater runoff would not work as advertised. Although developers have maintained the project will lessen flooding in the area, DeScherer said a hydrologist determined the Long Savannah development threatens to make flooding worse.

SELC is representing the Charleston Waterkeeper in asking for the DHEC board review. If DHEC grants SELC’s request for a board review, that will likely be scheduled for later in June or in July.

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