Groups rush to buy remaining Angel Oak land

Angel Oak 2Community groups are rushing to raise funds by March 14 to buy the remaining 18.7 acres near the Angel Oak tree, which would prevent development and preserve the land. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 27, 2014

The Lowcountry Open Land Trust has two weeks to secure about $280,000 needed to buy the remaining land surrounding the historic Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island.

The trust wants to buy 18.7 acres near the tree to prevent Raleigh-based Dominion Realty Partners from developing a 250-unit apartment community with commercial space nearby.

Dominion owns the plot and has preliminary zoning and design approval from the city to build. Environmentalists and community groups say a mixed-use property so close to the tree would harm the far-reaching, centuries-old root system. The trust has until March 14 to buy the property instead.

“This is a critical piece because it fully completes the protection of the land surrounding the Angel Oak,” said Adrian Cain, the trust’s development director.

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The map shows the remaining 18.7 acres the trust seeks to keep from being developed. (Image/Lowcountry Open Land Trust)

The trust bought 17 acres near the tree in December and the city of Charleston owns nine more. For the remaining 18.7 acres, local municipalities, companies and private donors have given to the trust in the second fundraising effort, cumulating roughly $3.02 million of the $3.3 million needed to buy the land.

Charleston County Council gave final approval Tuesday to contribute $2.5 million from the county’s Greenbelt Program funds for the tree. The town of Seabrook Island also voted Tuesday to contribute $50,000. The city of Charleston previously contributed $400,000.

The trust closed on the initial 17 acres Dec. 19. County Council, Charleston, the Historic Charleston Foundation, the S.C. Conservation Bank, the Boeing Co., Blackbaud, Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island, along with other companies and private donors raised the $3.6 million needed.

If the remaining money is secured by March 14, the trust will own the property. Cain said the trust plans to first put an easement on the property to protect it from future development and then create a partnership with the city and county to decide how to manage it.

Without the final funding, the developer will move ahead with plans to build an apartment community.

“We are seeing about $3,000 to $4,000 come in a day to support this project. If we continue to see that pace, we will meet our goal, but it will take every $100 donation to get there,” Cain said.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.  

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Land trust gets funding to buy land near Angel Oak

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