It’s hard to imagine why some Mount Pleasant residents worry that the town is about to take their property.
Last week, council members simply asked staff to find out how much it would cost to get appraisals for a bunch of private property along Shem Creek.
But that’s just for information, they say. It doesn’t mean they’re interested in forcibly taking land its owners have no intention of selling.
No, no. Don’t be paranoid.
It also means nothing that they asked town staff to get cost estimates for making the entire east side of Shem Creek a public park.
They’re just brainstorming.
And so what if Councilman Jim Owens said during his campaign that he would use eminent domain to stop an office building and parking garage the town not only approved but pursued.
As Councilman Joe Bustos said, elected officials often change their minds after they’re elected.
No, these council members say, there’s nothing to see here. Move along. And if you don’t, they might just throw down with you in the parking lot at RB’s.
Of course there’s no need to worry. Councilmen Bustos, Owens and Will Haynie are conservatives. They know that having the government decide what is best for you and your property — and taking your stuff — is a bunch of liberal hooey.
They would never do anything so, well, socialistic.
These new council members say they are simply fighting change and the unchecked growth that threatens Mount P.
They say they’re fighting for old Mount Pleasant.
But on Monday, when Bustos got up in the business of Billy Webb and Billy Simmons, it looked like the councilmen were actually fighting old Mount Pleasant.
Because those guys are as old Mount Pleasant as it gets.
Bustos, Owens and Haynie called an impromptu press conference in front of the Shem Creek restaurant row to reassure residents they weren’t talking about coming for people’s property, and to express outrage that anyone would have that idea.
They blamed the media for the misconception.
Of course it’s the media’s fault. Why would any reporter note that getting appraisals for property not on the market is anything other than what it is — research for possible eminent domain action?
There is no other reason to waste time and spend taxpayer money, folks. Just ask the owners.
“We are absolutely not selling, whatever the price,” says Carole Olindo, who, along with her husband Joel, are turning the former Sette into a new restaurant. “We are going to have a meeting with Councilmen Bustos, Owens and Haynie to clarify what their position is because their position has changed so many times.”
Good point. At first, council was not after the Sette property, then it was on the appraisal hit list. They were only interested in sidewalks, even though the development underway already includes those. Then it was a park. Now it’s just information gathering.
You realize this isn’t fooling anyone, right? These new council members came into office determined to stop that office building and parking garage near the creek, and are inching toward doing just that — guaranteed lawsuits and cost to the town be damned.
The funny thing is, the rest of council has quit fighting and apparently decided to give their colleagues just enough rope to hang themselves.
And when that press conference went sour on Monday, they must have felt the noose tightening.
In some ways, what these councilmen want to do is commendable.
They long for the Mount Pleasant of days gone by, when it was a sleepy suburb, safely — and quietly — across the harbor from Charleston. Trouble is, when you have such a great place to live, word eventually gets out.
That’s why Mount Pleasant is one of the fastest-growing towns in the country.
Honestly, there are few people who wouldn’t like to have the Mount Pleasant of 20 years ago, when the busiest place on the creek was The Wreck, a shabby and absolutely outstanding restaurant.
But now the creek is lined with bars and restaurants and businesses. That’s success, and with it comes crowds and traffic. And the need for housing and new business threatens every square inch of ground.
Some council veterans hope that when the new guys see the appraisals for all that Shem Creek property, and get the bill from their attorneys for all these ongoing lawsuits this development consternation has wrought, they will quietly drop all this.
But that assumes a reasonable response to unreasonable desires.
And make no mistake, it is unreasonable to think Mount Pleasant isn’t going to change. As sad as it is, old Mount Pleasant is gone forever.
There’s no fighting that — not even in the parking lot at RB’s.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.