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Berkeley-Charleston industrial developer reaches $1M deal with New Hope community

WassamassawSwamp (copy)

A developer is donating $850,000 to help preserve a Berkeley County watershed that includes Wassamassaw Swamp (above). File/Provided/S.C. Coastal Conservation League

NEW HOPE – The Berkeley Charleston Tradeport will donate $1 million toward a community center and environmental efforts as part of an agreement reached between the industrial park and the Coastal Conversation League and local residents.

The industrial property is a 5 million-square-foot complex off Jedburg Road that will eventually include 10 large warehouses in addition to extensive service roads and parking areas.

NorthPoint Development, which is developing the project, has two buildings are under construction. NorthPoint will eventually add the other eight over the coming years. The project affected nearly 13 acres of wetlands that will vanish beneath tons of concrete.

As part of the agreement that was reached last month, NorthPoint will:

  • Provide $150,000 toward a new community center that will be located on 1239 Jedburg Road.
  • Donate $850,000 to the Lord Berkeley Trust for use in future conservation efforts within in the Wassamassaw/Great Cypress Swamp watershed.
  • Enforce a 100-foot buffer between all residential property adjacent to the rear portion of the property.
  • Conduct annual meetings with the New Hope Community residents and for an additional year after the project has obtained full occupancy.
  • Continue good faith negotiations with property owners near the project.
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The Berkeley-Charleston Tradeport is among the large industrial warehouse developments in the Jedburg Road area near Summerville. Another is on the way. File/Lauren Petracca/Staff

“It’s not a perfect outcome for everyone involved, but in a lot of ways that’s a good thing,” said Robby Maynor, the Berkeley County project manager for the Coastal Conservation League. “That is sign of a good compromise. People from different backgrounds were able to sit down and have a conversation and come to a compromise that everyone can live with.”

The New Hope community, which is made up of about 150 families, is in unincorporated Berkeley County about nine miles northeast of Summerville off of Interstate-26.

In January, state Rep. Sylleste Davis, R-Moncks Corner, requested the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to hold a public meeting to listen to the concerns from residents of New Hope about the complex.

The meeting never took place.

In February, the federal Army Corps of Engineers and DHEC gave initial approval to NorthPoint Development to fill in the wetlands.

The Coastal Conservation League and the South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed a lawsuit to try and have the project halted.

“I think the agreements strikes the right balance,” Davis said. “NorthPoint is trying to be a good neighbor. I was a little concerned that the community wasn’t having their voices heard. This is a good template for groups moving forward. Get everyone at the table and recognize the fact that economic growth can co-exist with the preservation of our environment and what we love about Berkeley County.”

The $850,000 donation to the Lord Berkeley Trust will be used for conservation efforts of wetlands in the area.

“I think our goal has always been to be good community partners,” said Caleb Moore, the project manager for NorthPoint Development. “This agreement with community reinforces our commitment to being good partners with the community and listening to those concerns and to do what we can to help them.”

Wetlands act as natural water purifiers that prevent excessive erosion and sedimentation. Wetlands store water during storms, effectively reducing flood damage and lessening the risk of flash floods.

The Berkeley Charleston Tradeport could affect the entire watershed of Miller Dam Branch and could even cause issues with flooding and sedimentation downstream along the Ashley River.

A study by Robinson Design Engineers found the hard surfaces of the buildings and parking lots from the complex would increase annual runoff by 60 percent, or the equivalent of 235 Olympic-size swimming pools.

That excess stormwater would run into the Wassamassaw Swamp and downstream to the Ashley River.

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Reach Andrew Miller at 843-937-5599. Follow him on Twitter @APMILLER_PandC