On the eastern reaches of Charleston County, conflicting ideas about growth and development have often clashed in Awendaw and throughout the Sewee-to-Santee region, but local officials and other stakeholders in the area are looking for common ground.
Mayors from Awendaw, McClellanville, Mount Pleasant and Charleston have already had one sit-down, along with representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Berkeley Electric, Charleston and Berkeley counties, and others.
On Wednesday, some of those folks will gather for a public meeting to discuss what the area has to offer, and what it needs.
"This kind of came out of planning efforts going on in Beaufort and Jasper counties, where they had issues over the years with small towns doing kind of crazy annexations and there wasn't any regional plan," Charleston County Councilman Dickie Schweers said. "We have the same things going on in the Awendaw/McClellanville/Mount Pleasant region."
"They all have their own interests, and all act independently, and then mixed in there is the unincorporated area, which is most of it," he said. "If we don't all sit down and discuss the needs of the area, then what we all do independently might not serve us as well."
The regional planning group has no authority to change things such as land-use regulations, but could make recommendations at some point.
Initial meetings generated some suspicion among those not invited, including some Awendaw council members.
Wednesday's gathering, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Awendaw Town Hall, was announced by the county as a public meeting, partially due to County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor's concerns that earlier meetings hadn't been publicized and people felt excluded.
Awendaw Mayor Sam Robinson said it's a good opportunity for people from his small community to sit as equals with representatives from Mount Pleasant, Charleston, and perhaps the National Park Service.
"I'm hoping that in the end ... we will have identified some common goals and interests, and we will have moved forward in terms of us becoming closer allied and realizing we all have a stake in the common good of all of us," Robinson said. "I want to see unity."