South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Conservation Groups Step Up Against Massive Charleston County Residential Project
Posted: June 5, 2020

For immediate release

The Long Savannah proposal will impact 200-plus acres of wetlands and worsen flooding in West Ashley.

The Sierra Club and South Carolina Wildlife Federation are challenging the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's (DHEC) approval of the Bulow County Park/Long Savannah/Village Green project, a 3,172.6-acre residential development planned for the West Ashley area of Charleston.

On May 21, 2020, right on the heels of horrific flooding events in Charleston County caused by Tropical Storm Bertha, DHEC issued 401 Water Quality and Coastal Zone Consistency certifications authorizing the developer’s plans to impact 209 acres of wetlands, and specifically filling 137 acres and excavating 72 acres of wetlands adjacent to Church and Rantowles Creeks.

Wetlands provide numerous benefits for people and wildlife, including protecting and improving water quality, providing wildlife habitat, and storing floodwaters.

The filling and excavation of more than 200 acres of wetlands in an area already experiencing significant flooding problems stands to put residents in harm’s way, according to the Request for Board Review filed on Friday on behalf of the groups by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP), a public-interest environmental law firm.

Further, since the proposed construction will be conducted over a 30-year period, DHEC’s authorization does not account for the expected increase in sea levels and storm events caused by climate change.

“During this day and time, we know better than to fill and build in floodplain wetlands. These activities have led to people’s homes being repeatedly flooded, and have exacerbated flooding by eliminating important flood buffering wetland systems,” according to Amy Armstrong, SCELP’s Executive Director.

“Existing development is already taxing the ability of Church and Rantowles Creeks to mitigate flooding and provide wildlife habitat” said Sara Green, Executive Director of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. “With the projected impacts from a changing climate, the problems will be intensified. Allowing a development of this density with high impacts to functioning wetlands and natural floodplains in this sensitive ecosystem is just wrong for so many reasons.”

“This development threatens wetlands and headwaters streams, which support a vast array of wildlife species and are a critical defense against flooding,” said Ben Mack, Chair of the South Carolina Sierra Club. “The citizens of Charleston County are not being served well by this project.”

Media contacts:
Amy Armstrong, Esquire
South Carolina Environmental Law Project
[email protected]
(843) 527-0078

Sara K. Green
Executive Director
South Carolina Wildlife Federation
(803) 256-0670

Ben Mack
SC Chapter Chair
Sierra Club of South Carolina
[email protected]

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project protects the natural environment of South Carolina by providing legal services and advice to environmental organizations and concerned citizens and by improving the state’s system of environmental regulation.

The Mission of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation is to conserve and restore South Carolina’s wildlife and wildlife habitat through education and advocacy.

The mission of the Sierra Club of South Carolina is: To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of earth’s ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; To use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

West Ashley's Crosstowne Christian Church after Hurricane Matthew. A study commissioned by the Church found that stormwater runoff caused by filling wetlands and overdevelopment in the Church Creek Basin will likely increase the frequency and depth of flooding events. Photo credit: Pastor Paul Rienzo