September 7, 2023

Melissa Rademaker, Live 5 News Charleston

Judge grants voice to people of St. Helena Island in ongoing development dispute

The Gullah Geechee people of barrier islands in Beaufort County have been fighting against a proposed development since 2022, and so far they are winning in the board votes and their legal battle.

A developer has been trying to build a golf course and gated community on Pine Island on the South Carolina coast. But the island is a Gullah Geechee hub, and therefore has special protection.

Pine Island is an approximately 500-acre property located on the much larger St. Helena Island. Pine Island’s property was recently purchased by a developer with the goal to build a private golf course.  The owner is the Pine Island Property Holdings LLC.

The Cultural Protection Overlay zone is a specific zoning for Pine Island and St. Helena Island that bans any development of private clubs or golf courses. That rule is in place to protect the Gullah Geechee people. The Gullah Geechee nation is a specific culture developed by the descendants of slaves on the Atlantic coast.

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