ST. GEORGE — Why not approve the comprehensive East Edisto development plan that’s been hammered out between MeadWestvaco and Dorchester County staffs for more than two years?

Because it’s a United Nations plot to rule the world.

That’s what a small group of residents told County Council last week before council gave final approval to plans for a web of “green” communities across 70,000 acres in the southern part of county outside Summerville — nearly one third of the county.

The plan calls for “sustainable development.” Unfortunately, so does a voluntary U.N. action plan for developing countries, called Agenda 21.

And that is like waving red flag in front of a bull. Radio host Glenn Beck and others have railed on the U.N. plan as calling for a “globalist” government control that would strip individuals of their freedoms.

Councilman David Chinnis met the residents’ concern head on. He asked for a show of hands among people who supported private property rights, and got it. “It’s ludicrous,” he said, to equate Agenda 21 to a local property owner’s plan to develop the property.

“This is smart development — I’m sorry, guys,” he said to the group before voting. “It’s smart because it’s smart, not because it’s ‘smart development.’ ”

County residents first challenged county leaders with being stooges for the United Nations during a January meeting to gauge support for zoning in the rural county. The idea is that by inculcating concepts like sustainable development, the U.N. is gradually wielding influence over local government.

The conspiracy theory roils through the rural county, where residents guard their autonomy.

But MeadWestvaco “sat down with us and discussed what their plan was before they did the master plan,” said resident Angie Crum of Ridgeville. “It’s a great asset to the community.”