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A angular swath of timberland known as the Nebo Tract was an early poster child of the development pressures that were bleeding over into Awendaw and the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge some 15 years or more ago.The debate hasn’t relented about growth in and around the rural town of about 1,500 residents, just up the road from Mount Pleasant.But as for that particular piece of real estate — it’s off the table.The Nature Conservancy now owns the 355-acre parcel along U.S. Highway 17, bounded by Mount Nebo AM...
A angular swath of timberland known as the Nebo Tract was an early poster child of the development pressures that were bleeding over into Awendaw and the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge some 15 years or more ago.
The debate hasn’t relented about growth in and around the rural town of about 1,500 residents, just up the road from Mount Pleasant.
But as for that particular piece of real estate — it’s off the table.
The Nature Conservancy now owns the 355-acre parcel along U.S. Highway 17, bounded by Mount Nebo AME Church and the 259,000-acre Francis Marion National Forest.
The land-protection group bought it from the previous longtime owner from the Chicago area earlier this month for $3.6 million. The property had been marketed for several years through NAI Charleston for $4.5 million.
“It was Christmas in March when we closed,” said Dale Threatt-Taylor, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in South Carolina.
She said her organization had been keeping its eye on the Nebo Tract for some time. It decided to step in after a deal with another would-be buyer fell through.
“We made an offer to purchase it, and the owners accepted,” Threatt-Taylor said. “So we were delighted and moved forward with it.”
For now, the nonprofit has no firm plans for its latest acquisition in the Sewee-to-Santee district, between Awendaw and lower Georgetown County. Typically, the group will quickly sell or transfer its land holdings to a like-minded owner, such as the U.S. Forest Service, but that’s not likely in this instance, Threatt-Taylor said. She also stressed the conservancy won’t “go off mission.”
“We’re actually going to look at this property to find the best path forward. We want to engage the community in the conversation. ... Also, we may do something totally new ... and innovative that we can lead from here in South Carolina and show our partners across the nation, ‘Hey, it’s a new day in conservation.’”
The purchase follows a state Supreme Court decision that put to rest a lengthy legal battle.
The hand-wringing began around 2009, after a real estate developer proposed to build about 360 homes and commercial space on the Nebo Tract.
A financial hitch was that the property was in an unincorporated area. The town, with less restrictive and more lucrative land-use rules than Charleston County, was asked to annex it.
One of the primary concerns at the time was the possibility of a domino effect. If the Nebo Tract was added to the town, other large nearby parcels that were part of the former Fairlawn Plantation could soon follow.
As Awendaw saw it, the 355 acres it was eyeing already were bumping up against its municipal boundaries, which is a requirement for annexations in South Carolina. Around 2004, the town had annexed a 1¼-mile-long, 10-foot-wide strip within the Francis Marion, as well as the church next door to the Nebo Tract. That provided the mandatory “contiguity.”
It wasn’t until October 2009 that Town Council annexed the Nebo Tract. At the same meeting, it approved a development plan for the property.
Two nearby residents and the Charleston-based Coastal Conservation League mounted a legal challenge. They alleged in a lawsuit the next month that the Francis Marion annexation wasn’t legal because the owner — the U.S. Forest Service — never signed a petition formally authorizing the change, as required.
The litigation eventually worked its way up and down the appeals system, giving the S.C. Supreme Court the final word. It found that Awendaw’s annexation was invalid, citing the town’s “false statement” that it had obtained written authorization from the Forest Service for the 10-foot strip. Mayor Miriam Green, who was not serving in that role at the time, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Coastal Conservation League said it’s pleased that the Nebo Tract has found a buyer that “will be working directly with the Awendaw community to chart the best path forward for permanent protection of the property.”
“We know that large and sprawling development within and adjacent to protected public lands like the Francis Marion ... can pose threats to both people and wildlife in addition to creating barriers to important tools for managing the ... forest, like prescribed fire,” project manager Robbie Maynor said in a written statement. “This is a huge win for our communities and coastal critters.”
And as it turned out, all the early unrest about development at the nearby Fairlawn properties also has faded, courtesy of some of the region’s biggest industrial employers. Boeing Co., the Port of Charleston and others have ponied up the funds over past decade or so to protect about 5,400 acres of the privately owned property to mitigate the environmental impacts of their expansion plans in other parts of the region.
The family-run partnerships behind the sales of the Fairlawn and Nebo Tract parcels are conservation-minded Lowcountry landowners and investors that have been selling property to groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society and the Open Space Institute for years. They’re affiliated with descendants of the turn-of-the-20th-century lumber titan and Berkeley County forest namesake Francis Beidler.
A representative for ECB LLC, which sold the Nebo Tract, could not be reached for comment last week.
AWENDAW, S.C. (WCIV) — For the past three years, two months, and 17 days, Middleton & Maker Village Barbeque has been providing good food for a good cause, and has provided a safe space for customers.“It’s a backyard family reunion type of effect," said Eliot Middleton, one of the co-owners of the popular business....
AWENDAW, S.C. (WCIV) — For the past three years, two months, and 17 days, Middleton & Maker Village Barbeque has been providing good food for a good cause, and has provided a safe space for customers.
“It’s a backyard family reunion type of effect," said Eliot Middleton, one of the co-owners of the popular business.
This family reunion started back in 2016 as a mobile business bringing barbeque to different areas throughout the Lowcountry, but once those wheels parked, the business began to grow.
"From that opportunity coming into this opportunity with this restaurant being available and getting this literally two days before Covid start, so it’s just been a very strong strong battle for the last four years," Middleton said.
Middleton's passion didn't stop there. After realizing transportation was hard to come by for some people, his love to help the community kicked in.
“On the Middleton side, whatever profits I get from the restaurant, it all went back into the cars and making sure I could fix and develop cars that needed," Middleton said.
Unfortunately, the popular BBQ spot, located on 5105 N HWY 17 in Awendaw, will be closing due to new development plans moving into the area. But the business is now going back to its roots.
“We’re going back mobile. It’s going to be Middleton’s Village Mobile Barbeque LLC, and we’re going to be in all of the other areas and counties, and we’re going to do more community-oriented events," Middleton said.
Despite the change in locations, the passion remains, and the village will only grow.
"And they say if you build it they will come, and that’s what we did here—we built it, and people are coming," said Charles Maker, co-owner of Middleton & Maker Village BBQ.
Middleton and Maker will also start having village field days throughout the community for people of all ages to come out, play games and get some good food.
Middleton's service to his community dates back years. In October 2020, he was recognized with the Jefferson Award after he started fixing up old cars and giving them out to people in need of reliable transportation.
A potential new middle and high school in Awendaw has a chance to be a partial magnet school, and students from multiple parts of the district can be pulled toAWENDAW, S.C. (WCSC) - A potential new middle and high school in Awendaw has a chance to be a partial magnet school, and students from multiple parts of the district can be pulled to take part in a specialized curriculum.Charleston County School District Board Members and the people of Mount Pleasant got to hear new details about the potential schools on Wednesday. Distri...
A potential new middle and high school in Awendaw has a chance to be a partial magnet school, and students from multiple parts of the district can be pulled to
AWENDAW, S.C. (WCSC) - A potential new middle and high school in Awendaw has a chance to be a partial magnet school, and students from multiple parts of the district can be pulled to take part in a specialized curriculum.
Charleston County School District Board Members and the people of Mount Pleasant got to hear new details about the potential schools on Wednesday. District officials told people at the meeting, held at Laing Middle School, that a lot of the plans right now are just ideas with no specific timeline.
This new middle and high school would be located on 107 acres at Highway 17 and Jenkins Hill Road. As part of this plan, district staff presented concept maps with multiple options for rezoning.
Jeff Borowy, the Chief Operating Officer for the district, says this plan will be a challenge.
“Most of the times we build a school, we just build a specific zone of attendance for that school, but in this case, we want to have a number of students to offer the right programs for those students,” Borowy said. “So, we have to look out of the box and look for something different beyond the zone.”
District staff says one of the main challenges is making sure that each school holds a maximum of 500 students. This would pull in kids from D1, the Awendaw-McClellanville area, and some from D2 in the northern Mount Pleasant area.
Staff also say they are continuing to research desirable education options for a partial magnet school to reach that target enrollment.
“It’s going to be very important to let’s build the school from up, but at the same time, let’s figure out what we’re going to be doing inside,” Thomas Colleton, D1 Constituent Board Chair, said. “The curriculum needs a lot.”
There is currently no timeline on construction for the schools because the district does not know if this magnet option will be included. The district says it is possible that the earliest we can start to see construction would be in four years.
Jonathan Mars, a parent of two children at Carolina Park Elementary, says this could be an option for his family when his kids get older.
“But it does sound like they’re going to have very specific programs at the school,” Mars said. “So, for example, if there’s a great art program and my daughter’s really into art that seems like a great option to have.”
As of now, this project is not fully funded and the district says they do not have a price estimate.
They say the next step is to charter a blue-ribbon committee in mid-October that will look at enrollment numbers and look at the best options to make this project successful.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Giving old shipping containers new life, the Awendaw-McClellanville Fire Department is completing an emergency services training center for firefighters to traiAWENDAW, S.C. (WCSC) - Giving old shipping containers new life, the Awendaw-McClellanville Fire Department is completing an emergency services training center for firefighters to train and perform drills safely.Located behind fire station two, the center is two stories tall and includes four former shipping containers that were previously used by Dorchester County Fire R...
Giving old shipping containers new life, the Awendaw-McClellanville Fire Department is completing an emergency services training center for firefighters to trai
AWENDAW, S.C. (WCSC) - Giving old shipping containers new life, the Awendaw-McClellanville Fire Department is completing an emergency services training center for firefighters to train and perform drills safely.
Located behind fire station two, the center is two stories tall and includes four former shipping containers that were previously used by Dorchester County Fire Rescue and the City of Charleston Fire Department.
The site will not use any live fire, but smoke machines will be used to still stimulate the effects of a real fire.
Awendaw-McClellanville Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bowers says the training center will raise the level of preparation for firefighters in the rural fire department.
“They’ll have a practical place where they can come put those skills to use. Skills like forcing doors, throwing ladders, pulling a hose, wearing an air pack, just basic skills that if we don’t do every single day, they’re diminishing,” Bowers says. “Because of our limited manpower that we have because we are in a rural area, we count on our guys to know things, and they’ve got to just be well prepared.”
The facility will be mainly used for search and rescue operations, hose and nozzle tactics, ladder throwing and state classes, but can also be used for many real-life scenarios for firefighters to practice.
Before allowing the center to be ready for training, the department wants to make the area as realistic as possible by including furniture and having a layout similar to houses in the area.
“Before, if we didn’t have anything like this, we just had to pretend. Now, it will be more like a home and we’ll have obstacles in our way and all that stuff,” AMFD Engineer Jason Philbeck says. “It’ll be more like real life.”
The department hopes the training center will encourage more teamwork and communication between different crews and shifts that cover the Awendaw-McClellanville area.
“They will get to work together better and it will be more proficient, and just a better all-around firefighter,” Bowers adds. “For the volunteers to get the classes in, it’s very hard because to get everything you need to be a firefighter in the state of South Carolina, it takes a long time.”
Once the facility is finished, it will be at a near-zero cost to taxpayers in the area because the shipping containers are reused. The department hopes that the facility can be used for years to train firefighters in the safest way possible.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.
AWENDAW, S.C. (WCIV) — Social media forums are buzzing in the Awendaw-McClellanville area.Mosquitos have people swatting from the second they step outside.Large populations of mosquitos buzz up problems in Charleston County (WCIV)It’s a problem that has crept into the freshly painted walls of Howard AME Church off of Rutledge Road.“Every day it’s getting worse and worse and worse right now,” said Vince Green, who has been remodeling the church for more than two months....
AWENDAW, S.C. (WCIV) — Social media forums are buzzing in the Awendaw-McClellanville area.
Mosquitos have people swatting from the second they step outside.
Large populations of mosquitos buzz up problems in Charleston County (WCIV)
It’s a problem that has crept into the freshly painted walls of Howard AME Church off of Rutledge Road.
“Every day it’s getting worse and worse and worse right now,” said Vince Green, who has been remodeling the church for more than two months.
Renovations are nearing completion, but an unwanted pest is now itching to cause trouble.
“I’ve used up two cans of spray, Cutter, already,” Green said Monday afternoon. “So, it’s really, really bad.”
Green said the situation is bad on the outside, but worse on the inside. Mosquitos have planted themselves along windows and walls of the church. Green, like many others in the area, have noticed this problem grow substantially over the last week.
“We kind of figured it was coming,” said Brian Hayes, manager of Charleston County Mosquito Control.
Between Hurricane Ian and the Lowcountry’s recent temperatures, Hayes said it’s a timeline that makes sense.
“The cooler weather kind of prolongs how long the mosquitos are in the lava stage,” Hayes said. “But now that we’ve passed that 14-day period, all these mosquitos have hatched off.”
Despite the county’s varied attack from the air and ground, Hayes admitted there are certain challenges McClellanville presents.
“There are certain places that we’re restricted from spraying,” he said. “We’re restricted to only spraying on one product, which we’ve been using a long time. So, you know, we use the same product for a while, it’s not as effective.”
Despite limitations, Hayes insists the county is doing all it can, as quickly as possible.
“[We’ve received] well over 200 to 300 requests probably since Friday, so we’re well aware of the situation out there,” he said. “[We] completely understand things are really, really bad, and we’re doing all we can to assist the people up there.”
There is some good news, according to Hayes. Charleston County said it is unlikely this species of mosquito carries any diseases, and is hoping this week’s cooler temperatures will kill off large populations.