MOUNT PLEASANT — A Snee Farm resident said she was startled when someone knocked on her door after sunset to serve her with a subpoena requiring her to give pre-trial testimony to a developer's lawyers two days after she spoke out against a plan to build 57 homes on 7 acres in the subdivision.
"It had me very upset. I've never had anything like that happen," Marjorie Pommer said.
Pommer, a retired dental hygienist, considered hiring an attorney but said it's not practical for her because she lives on a fixed income. She spoke against the project on Sept. 11 at a Town Council meeting where it was approved in a 6-3 vote.
The subpoena requires her to answer the developer's lawyers' questions on Friday, she said. "It's very difficult. You just speak out about what you're thinking, and to have that happen is kind of tough," she said.
The Mount Pleasant-based Richter Firm LLC sent the subpoenas to Pommer, Peter Jayne and Ray Hatfield.
Attorney Larry Richter said the subpoenas have nothing to do with the Snee Farm residents speaking out against the proposed 57 homes on 7 acres.
"They're wrong," Richter said. He said the purpose of the pre-trial depositions is to discover facts in the case.
An anonymous group, Save Snee Farm LLC, has sued the developer, JKM Holdings Inc., to stop the project. Under state law, the members of a limited liability company are not required to be revealed in papers filed with the Secretary of State.
However, LLC members can be unmasked in pre-trial depositions. Pommer said she had never heard of Save Snee Farm LLC.
Snee Farm resident Ray Hatfield, an opponent of the development, said he is to give a pre-trial deposition to the developer's lawyers Friday. He said that he spoke against the project during a presentation by the developer at the Snee Farm clubhouse.
"Does freedom of speech mean anything any more?" Hatfield said.
Snee Farm resident Peter Jayne on Tuesday said that he received a subpoena from the developer's lawyers two days after speaking against the project at the Sept. 11 Council meeting. He also is scheduled to give a pre-trial deposition Friday.
The Save Snee Farm LLC suit contends that the acreage Council rezoned to allow the 57 homes was part of a tract intended for the benefit of all homeowners as an open recreational area. The subdivision's 890 homeowners purchased property there with the understanding that the land in question would not be developed, the suit states. It asks a judge to stop the development of the 57 homes on 7 acres.
Jayne questioned whether the wishes of a majority of Snee Farm's homeowners regarding the 57-home development were accurately represented to council. He noted that the Planning Commission rejected the project.
Opponents argue that the project would change the character of Snee Farm because the homes would replace open space near the subdivision entrance. Supporters see the project as an opportunity to modernize dilapidated amenities such as a clubhouse and swimming pool.
Town Council last week directed its attorney to draft a letter to the Charleston County Legislative Delegation asking that it address the issue of LLCs that shield the identity of plaintiffs. The town spent about $5,000 to defend itself against a suit brought by Save Hungry Neck Corridor LLC that sought to overturn Town Council's approval of the 110-acre Central Mount Pleasant development. Town lawyers planned pre-trial deposition of the plaintiffs, which would have been a way to discover the LLC members. The LLC settled the suit last week before that could happen.