Shem Creek controversy continues

It would cost about $41,000 to appraise four properties near Shem Creek and design a park there, Town Council members were told Monday, and some members of council want to make sure the town doesn’t spend a penny.

Councilman Elton Carrier is calling for an up-or-down vote on “stopping where we are, right now, before spending any money” the next time Town Council meets, on March 8. The Finance Committee endorsed that recommendation Monday.

At issue is whether the town should appraise properties that aren’t for sale, including three businesses, with an eye toward acquiring land for an expanded town park on the east side of Shem Creek.

Councilman Mark Smith said he’s heard from three of the property owners, who each said they don’t intend to give appraisers access to their land.

Councilman Jim Owens made clear at a Dec. 8 council meeting that the potential land acquisition is aimed at a controversial office building and parking garage that’s now under construction.

Owens specifically mentioned a portion of that property, 101 Coleman Blvd., and said Mount Pleasant “has the power of eminent domain and can use its power for the good of the town.”

Owens’ outspoken criticism of the office development, through the Saving Shem Creek page he created on Facebook in 2014, cost him his job at ADC Engineering Inc. — a company hired to work on the project — but also helped Owens win a seat on Town Council last year.

The Save Shem Creek group is suing the town for approving the office building.

The anti-development mood in Mount Pleasant also helped Joe Bustos, Will Haynie and Bob Brimmer win seats on council last year. On Feb. 5, Bustos made the motion directing the town’s staff to determine what it would cost to have the properties appraised, and what it would cost to design a town park there.

The answer came Monday, when Administrator Eric DeMoura told a council committee that he had talked with area firms and found that it would cost $35,000 for an initial park design and $6,000 to appraise the properties.

Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552 or twitter.com/DSladeNews.