North Charleston’s ongoing effort to acquire land along scenic Noisette Creek now includes an $800,000 land deal that the City Council endorsed Thursday night.
The city plans to use a mix of North Charleston funds and Charleston County greenbelt money to buy 20 properties that together amount to 5.6 acres. Some of the land could become a park, and protect the watershed, while other parts of the land could later be sold to developers, Mayor Keith Summey said.
The properties on South Rhett Avenue and Orangeburg Street are all owned by city resident Marion Birt, county records show, and some properties have homes on them. In total there are five houses, six mobile homes, six sheds and a dock.
“One of the homes we’re buying is his (Birt’s) home,” Summey said.
All of the homes would eventually be demolished if the city completes the land deal.
Some council members asked why they were holding a special committee meeting Thursday in order to recommend the deal for approval later the same night at a regular council meeting, considering that the city’s been trying to acquire this land for years.
“I feel like this is all rushed,” Councilman Dwight Stigler said. “It’s a decision on lots of money.”
Summey said the city took a long time to reach a deal with Birt, but now that they have, he wants to complete the deal quickly.
“He’s 90 years old,” Summey said. “He wants to close by the end of the month.”
Councilman Todd Olds, who later cast the only vote against authorizing the purchase, questioned why the city would pay more than the appraised value for the land, which was pegged at $720,000 after accounting for demolition of the homes. Summey said the city will be creating value by purchasing the land, and this is the deal they were able to negotiate.
“You’re going to create marsh-view property, and people are going to come and buy it,” he said. “This is some of the most beautiful land in the city.”
The city plans to pay for the land with roughly $355,000 in city funds, with the balance of the $800,000 purchase coming from county greenbelt funds, which are funded by the special half-percent sales tax.
During Charleston County’s last reassessment of property values, the county concluded that the 20 properties were worth $507,800 in 2010, for tax purposes.
“The city has been buying property along Noisette Creek to help preserve it in its natural state or to develop it in the future as a park,” said city Grants Administrator Shannon Praete, Grants Administrator. “This area is a hidden gem within North Charleston.”
“We could walk out there today and you would think you were out along the coast and not literally feet from Rivers Avenue,” she said.
North Charleston’s properties along Noisette Creek currently include the city’s Riverfront Park and a collection of high ground and marsh along the creek from the Cooper River to Rivers Avenue.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.