MOUNT PLEASANT — The case of the too-tall townhomes has been resolved with a settlement that will lead to the five unfinished buildings being torn down.
The legal fight was one of several development-related lawsuits facing the town, and the second case settled in the past month involving residential construction along Ben Sawyer Boulevard.
The disputed townhomes are part of the 21-unit Sullivan's Pointe development on Ben Sawyer Boulevard. In October the town slapped a stop-work order on developer Ashton Charleston, saying the five townhouses in the rear of the development were too tall and too many stories.
The resulting legal dispute raised questions about whether parking areas under the homes, which are raised because they're in a flood zone, should count toward the height and number of stories. The developer's lawsuit said the town had signed off on the plans and issued permits.
The developer's lawsuit also sought to subpoena two of the Save Shem Creek group's leaders and four residents of the neighboring Simmons Pointe development — all of whom opposed the developer's appeal of the stop-work order — and the Simmons Pointe homeowners association.
"There is no legitimate purpose for these subpoenas other than to intimidate local residents into silence and discourage public discussion and expression of concern by the public," a lawyer for the Simmons Pointe residents and associations argued in a motion to quash the subpoenas.
The Sullivan's Pointe development upset some neighbors living behind the property, in Simmons Pointe. At a December hearing when the developer was appealing the town's zoning ruling, Simmons Pointe HOA President John Collins called Sullivan's Pointe a mistake that should never have been approved.
Now, the lawsuit is over.
With the framed but unfinished townhomes sitting exposed to the elements since October, the town and developer reached a settlement that was obtained Thursday by The Post and Courier. Under the agreement, no money will change hands, and the townhouses can be built with three living floors over a parking area — but they can't be more than 40 feet tall, from the ground to the rooftop.
Some of the unfinished buildings exceed that height, and the rest would have when completed.
"Ashton obtained a demolition permit for the five units, and it is the town's understanding that they will perform the necessary demolition and modification to meet the terms of the settlement," said Julia Copeland, an attorney with the town's law firm.
Ashton Charleston declined to comment via James Weatherholtz, an attorney representing the developer.