January 24, 2024

Elizabeth Hustad, The Post and Courier

Judge yet to decide whether action group can intervene in Edgefield County case

Still undecided is whether an Edgefield County community action group will be able to intervene in a developer’s appeal against the county, its county council and planning commission.

Circuit Court Judge Walton McLeod heard the motion filed on behalf of the Merriwether Community Coalition Jan. 17 but took the matter under advisement with the outstanding question being whether the Coalition, if its motion were granted, would have a legal say in the outcome of mediation between Edgefield County and developer Blue Sky Properties or if the group would be limited to having an ear.

“I’m more interested in the end game, pretty much, when you all sit down,” McLeod said, underlining that it wasn’t a question of the Coalition being privy to the proceedings but one of its possible role once admitted to the table.

South Carolina statute allows for someone who has no ownership of property involved in such an appeal to “petition to intervene” in pre-litigation mediation. Such a motion, according to the statute, “must be granted if the person has a substantial interest in the decision of the board of appeals.”

This was the line that Emily Poole, of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, which filed the motion on behalf of the Coalition, took during Wednesday’s hearing, iterating a position laid out in a memo filed earlier this month in support of the motion.

Poole said the Merriwether Coalition, with its founding purpose one of “preserving and protecting the rural character” of Edgefield County and of ensuring county infrastructure can support new development, met the requirements of the law.

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