New Hanahan elementary school likely delayed until 2017

Hanahan residents who have been waiting for relief for overcrowded schools may have to wait another year.

A new, 900-student elementary school planned for the Tanner Plantation area likely will not open until August 2017, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Rodney Thompson said Tuesday.

The district plans to combine a 21-acre tract on Williams Lane owned by the city of Hanahan with a privately owned, 10-acre property to have a site large enough for the $22 million school.

“I’ll just say there are concerns possibly with the title (of the private site),” Thompson said. “We don’t know the time frame at this point.”

The site is owned by Clementine Myers et. al., according to Berkeley County records.

The district is currently negotiating with Hanahan to pay fair market value for the land, but the city has proposed restrictions that “cannot be classified as ‘ordinary’ or ‘standard’ by any means,” lawyer George Bullwinkel of Nexsen Pruet, who is representing the district, wrote in a memo to Thompson on Jan. 30.

Hanahan City Council wants all Hanahan children to attend the school, as district officials promised during the Yes 4 Schools campaign, Hanahan City Administrator Johnny Cribb said Wednesday.

Hanahan included that requirement in its proposal that the district accepted, but that is not reflected in the contract posted on the district’s website, he said.

“That’s a contract we’ve never seen before,” Cribb said. “Dr. Thompson and I have been working very hard on this but this contract doesn’t reflect our discussions.”

Bullwinkel said Wednesday the contract on the district’s site is the district’s most recent compromise, which was submitted Monday.

He said he doesn’t support a restriction which would bind current and future school boards to the attendance lines for 50 years and could cost the district up to $7.5 million in penalties if they don’t comply.

“Our mayor and council are not going to give up on that,” Cribb said. “They feel very strongly about it.”

Cribb said the city is selling its tract to the district at the market rate for land that is zoned conservation/preservation, but then it will be rezoned to residential/single family, which allows a school and increases the value.

The city also offered to give the district about 6 acres from a 53-acre tract it recently acquired from the federal government adjacent to the city-owned land so that it wouldn’t have to buy the 10-acre site.

“We are giving them a deal and we offered to bail them out of the Myers tract,” Cribb said.

Plans had originally called for the K-5 school, part of the district’s $198 million Yes 4 Schools building program, to open this August to alleviate overcrowding at Hanahan Elementary and Goose Creek Primary. But Thompson said in May that the project was delayed indefinitely after a yearlong quest in which residents complained about traffic and the size of several proposed locations. The school district also filed a lawsuit against the city over a rezoning request.

Hanahan and district officials later agreed to work together and Thompson pledged to try to get the project back on track.

The board settled on the location in October and soon after started contract negotiations and the required site studies.

One of those studies, conducted by the state Department of Transportation, rejected the district’s plan to connect Williams Lane to Henry Brown Boulevard. The DOT instead recommended widening Williams Lane and adding sidewalks. It also recommends that the district either build a roundabout at the intersection with Foster Creek Road or widen the intersection to accommodate turning buses.

“The sentiment from a lot of the people on the steering committee is that they don’t want to rush to build it if they aren’t building it right,” said Pat Eckstine, chairman of the volunteer committee of residents. “If it needs to be delayed, we understand. There are a lot of moving parts and we are eternally hopefully that everything will fall into place.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.