Fairlawn deal hits a snag
A plan for Charleston County to purchase the massive Fairlawn Plantation inside the Francis Marion National Forest could be held up for 90 days.
Charleston County is considering purchasing Fairlawn for about $11.9 million under its rural Greenbelt program. The program uses money from the half-cent sales tax to preserve rural land.
But the hunting rights of former owners are throwing a wrench into a deal some local leaders were hoping County Council would close Thursday, Council still could vote on the purchase, but it might instead vote to defer the matter for 90 days while a problem with the deal is resolved.
It’s a complicated problem. But essentially, the current owners of the property are willing to sell it, but Fairlawn is encumbered by the exclusive hunting rights of the previous owners.
Greenbelt bank board and some County Council members thought that if they purchased the property, the public would have year-round access to it for recreation such as hiking, biking and bird watching. They understood, and accepted, that the public couldn’t hunt on the land until all of those with hunting rights had died. The youngest of them now is 38 years old.
But those with hunting rights think they are entitled to exclusive use of the property. Hunting season is year-round for some types of game, and it isn’t entirely safe for people to use the property while hunting is going on.
County Council chairman Teddie Pryor said he couldn’t support the deal if the public couldn’t use the land. Councilman Dickie Schweers said he doesn’t think those with exclusive hunting rights are entitled to exclusive use of the Fairlawn property. In the rest of the Francis Marion National Forest, people can use the land for recreational purposes during hunting season. “But that’s for a judge to decide,” he said.
Read more in Thursday’s editions of The Post and Courier. Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.