Alan Laughlin of James Island has won The Post and Courier's Golden Pen award for March for his letter to the editor "City keeps crowding James Island."

Mr. Laughlin wrote regarding a meeting on the city's "gathering place" project on Maybank Highway:

"James Island Town Hall was standing-room-only on March 5; well over 100 people attended to hear from the city. City of Charleston planning director Tim Keane spouted the same old line that the city had informed island residents of all activities.

"Several attendees stated, however, that even though they lived in the affected areas, they had not been contacted and had not attended previous meetings. Others stated that what had been approved is not what is being built. Mr. Keane also said that traffic studies had found that Folly Road traffic was static; it had not grown and was no worse over several years. Really?"

The letter writer pointed out that "over the past year, Charleston County, the town of James Island, the Public Service District and city of Charleston representatives have been meeting to create a standardized building and business plan to allow jurisdictions to get along on Folly Road."

But he added that attendees at the March 5 meeting learned "that the city of Charleston has withdrawn from this 'overlay' program because they have a 'better' program."

Mr. Laughlin condemned that notion as "the same old arrogant hogwash we have seen and heard for the past 20 years from the city," adding: "The city has put more than 2,000 apartments on the island and plans over 1,000 more. ... The city feels that the island can hold six residential properties per acre, even though the town has voted in all four incarnations that only three per acre is what the island can sustain."

The letter concluded: "As long as the city forces huge increases in population, destroys the environment and clogs the roadways, islanders will continue to fight.

"At least some of us don't pay city taxes to get inadequate representation. I wonder how many islanders in the city have 'buyer's regret.' Maybe some day the island might be allowed to live in peace."

Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.