Berkeley County School District is dropping an appeal to rezone a 12.1 acre tract in Hanahan for a new elementary school, causing plans for the school to be shelved for now.
"The City of Hanahan's unwillingness to rezone the Bowen Tract in December of 2013 has delayed the scheduled August of 2015 opening of the Tanner/Foster Creek area school indefinitely," the district said in a statement to The Post and Courier on Monday.
Hanahan Mayor Minnie Newman-Caldwell said the city was notified the district is dropping its lawsuit appealing the city's denial of a rezoning request, but she did not have anything in writing as of Monday.
"It should have never gotten this far anyway," she said. "The school district and the city should always sit down and work together."
Hanahan City Council unanimously denied a request to rezone the site in December.
"As publicly stated in February, the Berkeley County School District respectfully disagrees with the Hanahan City Council's zoning decision," the district's statement said.
The landowner, Wrenn Development, decided not to renew a purchase contract with the district, according to the statement.
"Without a contract, the district has no option but to withdraw its zoning appeal for the Bowen Tract," it says. The district says it will continue to look for a suitable location.
The school is one of five new schools and several major renovations that are being funded by the $198 million bond referendum passed by voters in 2012.
Hanahan City Councilman Michael Sally sees the district's action as a positive step.
"My hope is that now we can move forward and work together as a community to figure this out," he said Monday. "So, as opposed to it being something that gets figured out (at the district office) in Moncks Corner, it's something that gets figured out in the community."
Sally and others have asked the school district to use a process like the one used to pick the middle school site on Clements Ferry Road. In that search, community leaders and district officials met over a two-month period to study site options and school configurations. The school board voted to accept the committee's recommendation for the site and grade structure.
Some of the issues with the Bowen tract include traffic in the Tanner Ford-Foster Creek area, the size of the tract and the number of planned parking spaces. In addition, city officials are concerned about a projected $200,000 per year loss of revenue if a school is built on the site, and that surrounding roads are privately owned. City officials also wanted a deed restriction to guarantee that all children who live in Hanahan would attend Hanahan schools. Currently, some residents are zoned for Goose Creek schools.
The district started pursuing the Bowen tract as its top choice after eliminating several other options.
In January, Superintendent Rodney Thompson wrote in a letter to Hanahan City Administrator Johnny Cribb that he would like investigate a 21-acre, city-owned site on Williams Lane. City officials have said in public meetings that the site is available and they would support building a school there. The city plans to build a park on adjoining land.
"If we would just work together, we could really produce the best product," Sally said. "But we haven't been able to talk to them (during the appeal process), so I hope this is like a new leaf is being turned over."