AOV owned 42 acres bordering the northern half of Angel Oak and this property, still completely forested, would have been essentially clear cut except for a narrow buffer around the Park. A number of experts evaluated the project and determined that it stood to significantly impact the Angel Oak Tree and could very well lead to the eventual demise of the ancient tree.
In fact, the initial proposal was truly appalling. On the 42 acre site adjacent to the Angel Oak, the developer proposed to build 630 residential units; to build 80,000 sq. ft. of retail, including big box retail; to fill 5.42 acres of the 6.46 wetland acres onsite; and to provide almost no buffer around the Angel Oak. Through the concerted efforts of many over several years, this proposal was gradually chipped down. The fight culminated in a case filed by SCELP in the Administrative Law Court on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and Save the Angel Oak.
Although we were unsuccessful before the Administrative Law Court and were forced to file an appeal in the Court of Appeals, that appeal eventually prompted the extremely beneficial settlement agreement.
This resolution provided many important protections for the Angel Oak tree, and it would have been impossible without the energetic work and cooperation of all the organizations involved and many passionate individuals. As a result of the settlement agreement we negotiated, the entire 42 acres surrounding the Angel Oak are now permanently protected.
During the course of the appeal of the permit, the developer's lender foreclosed on the property and gained control of what was now a 36-acre property, after the City of Charleston purchased the developer’s six-acre conservation zone to add to the two-acre city park surrounding the tree. The main feature of the settlement was that it set in motion the purchase of the property by the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, facilitated by grant funding from Charleston County Greenbelt Fund and the extraordinary generosity of many sea islanders, Charlestonians, businesses, nonprofit organizations and friends of the Angel Oak from around the world.
The settlement and the ultimate conservation outcome was a momentous victory for the local community and anyone who believes that the Angel Oak has a value for future generations that far exceed any short-term development profits.