Charleston County shuttered its garbage incinerator off Spruill Avenue years ago and tried to sell the property afterward with no luck.
But the county is now poised to sell the 17-acre site for $2.9 million to Carver Realty SC LLC, a company that is expected to use the site for cargo passing through its nearby port operation on the former Navy base.
The property's fate has been uncertain ever since the county closed the incinerator and razed its structure in 2010.
"We've had a couple of offers here and there but nothing ever came to fruition," County Council Chairman Elliott Summey said, adding that Carver Industries recently gave the county "a really good proposal, a really good number."
Residents in Union Heights and other nearby neighborhoods had voiced concerns about the incinerator because of truck traffic, odors and emissions, but Summey said he didn't expect them to be as concerned about Carver's presence there. The land is zoned for industrial use.
"We had a public hearing. No one showed up to talk about it," he said. "This is a much cleaner use of the property."
However, Bill Stanfield, CEO of the nonprofit Metanoia, noted the Carver group has faced blowback from its operations on the northern end of the base.
"They are storing huge piles of material next to one of the few residences that was built during the days of the Noisette project," he said. "I know that the mayor has talked about letting everything on the east side of Spruill go industrial, but I also hear ambivalence about that from some residents."
On the northern end, Carver has leased property from Palmetto Railways, a division of the S.C. Department of Commerce, and stacked containers next to West Yard Lofts. That site wasn't zoned to permit container stacking, and the company has been cited several times for illegal containers.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has said he wants to see Carver relocate its operation to the base's southern end.
Skip Mikell, president of the Union Heights Community Council, said he sees the land purchase as just one step in the process — the next and most important one is for possible zoning and permitting.
"If the proposed use of the property is in any way adverse to the improved environmental conditions which is the goal for our community, we will oppose the use of the land," he said. "We wait for their next move."
Carver officials did not respond to a request for comment, but Elliott Summey said they are interested in moving some of their existing operations away from the base's northern end "because they thought it didn’t coexist with what the city’s vision was for the north end of the base."
That vision involves less industry and more mixed use, including an expanded park area around Noisette Creek.
The county-Carver deal is complicated a bit by the county's ongoing negotiations with the S.C. Department of Transportation over how many acres the state will need to construct its new port access road, Elliott Summey said.
Charleston County built the incinerator both because the low-lying county has few suitable landfill sites and because the Navy entered into a contract to buy the steam produced from burning the garbage. It operated for about two decades.
After the Navy closed its base here and it became clear the contract would not be extended, County Council opted to shut down the incinerator in 2010 and instead sent household garbage to the Bees Ferry Landfill.
The incinerator property is at 1801 Shipyard Creek Road, a dead end road off Spruill near the State Ports Authority's emerging Leatherman Terminal and a new port access road. Elliott Summey said the port access road, which is under construction and will provide a direct link to Interstate 26, should help keep most of Carver's traffic off Spruill Avenue.