College of Charleston’s North Campus plan embraced by City Council despite concerns

Erika James, of North Charleston, holding Diamond Turner, 1, wondered Tuesday what she will do now that the mobile home park she lives in is slated to become the site of College of Charleston’s North Campus. Buy this photo

A plan to build College of Charleston’s new North Campus on a site in North Charleston that includes a 27-home mobile home park sailed through City Council Thursday as some tearful residents looked on.

The college needs a new site for its campus and Lowcountry Graduate Center, and needs it in time for the fall 2014 semester. North Charleston has fast-tracked the approval process for the development, and scheduled the special City Council meeting Thursday to speed it along.

Boeing Co. purchased the office complex on International Boulevard that the college currently uses, and the college needs to relocate by July. Holder Properties plans to build a new site for the college, and other tenants, on land adjacent to Interstate 526 and Dorchester Road, on properties between Paramount Drive and Dorsey Avenue that include the unnamed mobile home park.

“In the 19 years I have been mayor, that section of Wando Woods has always been an issue for the neighborhood,” said Mayor Keith Summey. “This is a way, I think, to enhance the neighborhood and the perception of the neighborhood.”

Most of the mobile homes are owned by park owners William and Margaret Altman, though seven are not. That means most residents won’t face the cost of relocating a home, which can amount to thousands of dollars.

Many of the mobile homes in the small community are decades old and visibly dilapidated, but several residents told The Post and Courier they don’t know how they could afford to move. All said they first learned of the development plan this week, but Councilman Todd Olds, who represents the area, told City Council members that the residents were told at least a month ago.

“These people have adequate time and they’ve been on notice since 30 to 45 days ago,” said Olds.

Park resident Terry Burke told City Council that, in fact, “we we’re just notified yesterday that we have 45 days to move.”

A half-dozen other residents arrived later but did not speak on the issue, possibly because they had not put their names on a public comment list.

Some council members were concerned that residents with apparently few financial resources could have to move quickly because the city is fast-tracking the project.

Councilman Ron Brinson said the Lowcountry Graduate Center is a great thing to have in the city, “but the fact is, we’re taking people’s homes.”

The city doesn’t own the land and is not condemning properties, but by rezoning the land, it would allow the development to go forward in an area where it wouldn’t be allowed under current land use rules.

“I think due notice has been given, and it’s the developer’s right, and the owner’s right, to sell,” said Olds.

City Council then recommended approval of the rezoning unanimously, with Councilman Bobby Jameson absent. A final vote is expected when council meets next on Oct. 24.

The state’s Joint Bond Review Committee approved the college’s plan Wednesday, and the state Budget and Control Board will take up the issue Oct. 31.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.

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