Dan and Caroline McQueeney came to James Island Charter High School on Monday night with questions about the pros and cons of annexing into the city of Charleston. They left with a choice.
The McQueeneys were among a handful of James Islanders who dropped by the city's annexation open house, an effort to encourage island residents to join the city since the S.C. Supreme Court dissolved the town of James Island.
Dan McQueeney discovered he could annex his Maybank Highway home but wasn't sure he'd do it.
The city's property taxes and stormwater fees are somewhat higher, but that cost could be offset by lower water and sewer bills and lower charges for joining a city recreation team or using its pools and golf course. "We feel like we're better prepared to make a decision," McQueeney said. "There are some advantages to both."
Tim Keane, the city's director of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability, said the city receives calls every day from James Islanders who want to know their options. "One of the things I'm amazed at is how many people don't know if they're in the city or not," he said. Since the town dissolved, the city has heard from 438 property owners who want to annex, but only 226 of them are eligible because their property is contiguous to the city's limits, Keane said.
Of those, 90 are being annexed, including 15 that City Council is expected to vote on tonight.
Bill Woolsey, former James Island mayor who is leading the attempt to incorporate the town for a fourth time, said he hopes to hold an incorporation referendum before the end of the year. Once that vote is held -- and if it passes -- the city no longer would be able to annex properties within the newly formed town.
However, the new town would have only about 12,000 residents -- two-thirds what it previously had. Many northern and southern neighborhoods would not be in the town this time, at least not at first.
Woolsey noted about 15 island residents won't be able to be in the new town because the city annexed a neighbor and cut them off from the town limits. He said property owners should be mindful if their annexation would prevent others from being part of the new town.
The town of James Island has incorporated three times since 1993. Each time the move was reversed after the city challenged the town's legality.