A developer disputing Charleston County's ownership of a road that provides the only access to a public boat landing and a cemetery, has removed cinder-block gate posts after weeks of discussion with county officials.
Poplar Grove developer Vic Mills said he still hopes to see Bulow Landing closed to the public during evening hours.
"We removed the columns as a gesture of goodwill while we work towards trying to find a win-win solution to our security problems," he said. "We proposed to Charleston County that we keep the gate open to the public during the day but close it at night when most of the vandalism and bad things take place."
The boat landing sits at the end of Bulow Landing Road, which also leads to the next phase of the Poplar Grove subdivision near Hollywood. The boat landing and a nearby cemetery are adjacent to land where the Poplar Grove amenity center is planned.
Mills has been pressing Charleston County to restrict access to the boat landing on Rantowles Creek, because of criminal activity and other problems.
In June, a stolen car was found dumped in the creek off the boat landing. In 2009, a murdered woman's body was found dumped in the bushes along Bulow Landing Road. Mills said loud parties and trash dumping are more typical concerns.
County spokesman Shawn Smetana said the gate posts and a gate control structure were removed from the road Monday as a condition of a county permit Mills' company needed to pave the road and install sidewalks.
"The county asked for its removal on Friday and the developer did so by Monday," Smetana said.
The gate columns went up at the end of May, prompting concerns by area residents, including some living at Poplar Grove. Mills took the position that Bulow Landing Road isn't a Charleston County road, and said he might take the issue to court if a compromise couldn't be reached.
"We continue to try to work with Charleston county in the spirit of goodwill," Mills said Wednesday.
Smetana said the county Park and Recreation Commission is reviewing security and may install lights and a camera. Mills has opposed the installation of lighting, and said "the light pollution is not desirable."
The boat landing is owned by the Poplar Grove development company, and is located in Dorchester County, but Charleston County oversees its use as a public landing under a long-term easement, or right of use, given to the county decades ago. Mills has questioned whether the landing is actually the property to which the county holds an easement.
"Many times developers tend to get the upper hand in these type scenarios, but it appears that County Council stood up for the public in this instance," said Ralph Earhart, a member of the kayaking community and author of "Kayak Charleston: Trips Within an Hour of Charleston."
He said members of the state's largest paddling club, Lowcountry Paddlers, and officers of the South Carolina Paddle Industry Association contacted county officials and council members to make sure Bulow Landing would remain open to the public.
County Council member Anna Johnson represents the area that includes Poplar Grove and the Davidson Community.
"County staff and I will continue to monitor the developer's effort to limit public access," she said, in a letter published in Tuesday's Post and Courier. "I have met with county staff and the Town of Hollywood, and we are coordinating the discussions with Poplar Grove."
The Poplar Grove developers put a gate across the same road in 2008, removed it after county officials got involved, then started building a new one this year.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552
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