Lawsuit Launched to Protect Gadsden Creek from Destruction
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A local group, Friends of Gadsden Creek, is challenging a permit and certifications granted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control that authorizes the elimination of 3.923 acres of critical area tidelands known as Gadsden Creek, one of the last tidal creeks on the peninsula.
The South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed a request for a contested case in the Administrative Law Court on behalf of Friends of Gadsden Creek on Friday.
“We are alarmed that the state agency charged with safeguarding our precious coastal tidelands issued a permit that allows for the complete destruction of a tidal creek so that slightly larger hotels, condos and office buildings can be built,” said Ben Cunningham, a SCELP attorney representing Friends of Gadsden Creek in the challenge. “The City of Charleston previously filled dozens of acres of coastal tidelands that this community used and enjoyed with over a million tons of waste. It is disturbing that instead of trying to atone for decades of neglect of this community and Gadsden Creek itself by preserving and beautifying the creek, the City of Charleston has endorsed a plan that will, yet again, deprive this community of a unique resource.”
WestEdge Foundation, Inc., a non-profit entity created by the City of Charleston and the MUSC Foundation, obtained a Critical Area Permit and Water Quality and Coastal Zone Consistency Certifications from the state environmental agency on July 12 to make way for a mixed-used development.
According to the filing, DHEC ignored the plain language of critical area statutory policies and its own critical area regulations in issuing the permit and certifications. The agency also failed to apply the controlling policies of the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Program document and its water quality regulations.
Friends of Gadsden Creek has long opposed the destruction of the creek. In addition to concerns about flooding, loss of habitat and other aesthetic injuries, the group says the WestEdge project continues an egregious pattern of taking.
“Given the City of Charleston's history of abuse, exploitation, and neglect of Gadsden Creek and the Gadsden Green community, we want to see this creek preserved and enhanced as a public resource and as a marker of history. The revitalization of Gadsden Creek would be but one step in a long path the City of Charleston must take in order to account for decades worth of harm inflicted on Gadsden Green residents and their surrounding natural environment.”
The South Carolina Environmental Law Project is a nonprofit public interest law firm. We use our legal expertise to protect land, water, and communities across South Carolina.
Friends of Gadsden Creek is a grassroots, community-led group, consisting of over 850 members, opposed to the destruction of Gadsden Creek and the continued patterns of injustice towards the Gadsden Green community.