On 57 wooded acres in North Charleston where paintball enthusiasts have been splattering countless foes since 2001, a business and industrial park could soon be developed.
Plans for the property, which extends along Cross County Road from Dorchester Road, have been submitted to the city for review. "Extreme" tree removal would be needed, the plan says.
"You have paintball out there now and pretty much an underutilized tract of land that could be producing jobs," Barry Whalen, of the civil engineering firm HLA, told the city's Planning Commission at a meeting this week, where Whalen represented the developer. Paintball Charleston has been renting the property since 2001.
In paintball matches, participants wearing protective gear can engage in mock combat and games similar to capture-the-flag using air guns that fire dye-filled gel capsules.
"We've got a pretty good following," said Paintball Charleston co-owner Tim Dake. "It is a nice, fun family place to go."
"For the love of the sport, I'd love to keep it up and rolling," he said. "We'll try to find alternate property if something does happen."
The large property sits across from a U.S. Postal Service complex on Cross County Road. Its neighbors include the Dortown Apartments on Dorchester Road.
Under the plan submitted to North Charleston, most of the land in the proposed Cross County Business Park would be designated for light industrial and office uses, and a gas station with a convenience store could be built at Dorchester and Cross County roads on a small parcel that's included in the plan.
Just over eight acres would be left as open space.
The plan calls for permitting and construction to begin by December 2015, with full build-out completed by 2018. A new traffic light is proposed on Cross County Road at Brookdale Boulevard, where the main entrance to the development would be located.
Before Paintball Charleston set up shop on the property, the land was known locally as the "sand pits" and was used by trespassers for off-road driving.
The land was leased to Paintball Charleston in 2001, not long after a Northwood Estates resident was killed while off-roading on the property at night while intoxicated.
The land decades ago was used as a borrow pit, providing dirt for construction of the Mark Clark Expressway, and resulting in hills and pits on the property. Paintball Charleston later built a number of structures that serve as obstacles and centerpieces of paintball matches.
"We've spent a lot of time developing the field," said Dake. "We've actually got a 40-foot pirate ship out there now."
The site's earlier use as a borrow pit means that "extreme cut and fill" will be needed to grade the property for development, according to the plan submission.
The development plan would allow any tree less than 24 inches in diameter to be removed without any required replacement if the tree is within the footprint of proposed buildings, driveways or drainage ponds.
In addition, the developer is seeking a change from city tree protection rules, to allow the clearing of any pine or gum tree without having to replace them or pay into the city's tree fund.
The land is owned by L-J Inc., a grading contractor based in Columbia.
North Charleston's Planning Commission recommended approval of the company's development-related land-use plan, which will also need City Council approval.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552