There is a growing apprehension on James Island that the moratorium on gathering place zoning won’t really affect the center of the controversy — the second phase of the apartment complex on Maybank Highway adjacent to The Standard project. Charleston City Council, which approved the moratorium last month, should provide some answers.

At issue is whether the would-be developer has a vested right to proceed with his project because he filed paperwork with the city before council’s action.

Residents who have fought against a second apartment complex along a highway that’s already heavily congested are appalled at the thought. So is Joe Qualey, who represents James Island on County Council.

“The whole process has been tortured, and the truth has been hidden,” Mr. Qualey said, adding that his counterparts on City Council should seek a legal opinion from its staff on the issue.

That’s a good idea, considering that the moratorium was approved in response to the public outcry against the Maybank project. If it’s a real moratorium, it ought to halt development so that alternatives can be considered. Otherwise it will be viewed as a meaningless sop to the hundreds of James Islanders who have opposed the project since its inception.

Certainly, that wasn’t City Council’s intent.