Charleston County considers buying 70 acres near landfill

By Liz Segrist
Published March 12, 2014

Charleston County Council’s Finance Committee voted Tuesday night to enter into negotiations to potentially buy 70 acres adjacent to the Bees Ferry Landfill in West Ashley.

After some discussion, council decided they needed more time to study whether the land was needed before entering into a contract. Councilman Elliott Summey altered the motion.

Rather than entering into a contract immediately, the 6-1 vote allows County Administrator Kurt Taylor and county staff to negotiate with both the property owner and regulatory agencies to potentially buy the land for $6.5 million. Councilwoman Anna Johnson was the dissenting vote.

The developer of Grand Bees, an apartment community near the landfill, is the property owner and offered the land to the county for purchase. Grand Bees previously filed two lawsuits against Charleston County in an effort to limit the heights of the construction waste and solid-waste parts of the landfill.

The solid-waste lawsuit was dismissed. The construction waste lawsuit is still being considered. If the county buys the property, the developer will drop the lawsuit, according to the county.

Johnson said she wanted the purchase to be about a specific use for the land, rather than settling a lawsuit.

The land could be used as a buffer for residents, putting some land between nearby neighborhoods and the landfill. It could stave off future developments near the landfill as well. The land could also potentially be used to expand the landfill in the future if it reaches capacity.

For that to happen, the city of Charleston would have to rezone it. The county says the city of Charleston’s planning staff and Mayor Joe Riley support the land acquisition for future use as a buffer or an expansion.

Johnson said she likes the idea of a buffer between the landfill and the community but thinks 70 acres might be excessive.

Councilman Dickie Schweers says the council seems “lukewarm at best” on the land purchase. Schweers said the council needs more time, adding that the landfill has an estimated 30 years left before it reaches capacity.

“We’re not in dire straits, but I would hate to look back and wish that we had purchased it ... Where would this get us? What are the benefits? We need to know all of the information before purchasing.”

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

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