Organizers for a planned new town of James Island said Thursday they will start small but hope to annex many of the properties being left out of the current incorporation effort.
A bill has been prefiled in the Legislature that would expedite the planned new town's annexation plans, state Rep. Peter McCoy, R-James Island, told a gathering of more than 100 town supporters.
Organizers for "Free James Island" heard from McCoy and other incorporation supporters -- Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, county Auditor Peggy Moseley and James Island Public Service District Commission Chairman Donald Hollingsworth.
Bill Woolsey, mayor when the state Supreme Court ruled this summer that the town had not been formed legally in 2006, said census figures and tax map data is being gathered to send to the Secretary of State with the incorporation application. Enough signatures have been gathered on the required petitions, he said, but additional signings are sought.
The incorporation effort is actually the fourth for the town, which has been ruled invalid three times as a result of lawsuits filed by the city of Charleston. Woolsey said the court ruling that ended the most recent version of the town also made it clear how to incorporate without fear of legal challenge.
The new town will initially be about two-thirds the size of the former one, with about 12,000 residents, and won't include much of Riverland Terrace or the Sol Legare Road area, Woolsey said. Once formed, he said, the town will bring in those areas and others.
"The plan is to get us all back together" in a town roughly with the dimensions of the previous one, Woolsey said. He said the islanders who incorporated the third town operated under a philosophy of "when in doubt, leave it in," concerning whether properties were legally contiguous. This time, planners are saying, "when there's doubt, leave it out," he said.
Cannon took a swipe at critics of the new town, particularly Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who purportedly stated the new town should be required to fund its own police department. Cannon said his office will continue enforcing the law in the now unincorporated area if it becomes the new town.
"I have jurisdiction in every part of Charleston County. Shame on Mayor Riley for saying you don't have a police department," Cannon said to loud applause.
Town backers plan two fundraisers: a barbecue 2-6 p.m. Oct. 16 at 1155 Eaglewood Drive and a garage and bake sale, 6 a.m. to noon at the former town hall on Camp Road.