Last week at the Seabrook Island Town Council Meeting, the developer seeking to build a private yacht club on Bohicket Creek withdrew their request for annexation of the Andell Tract. This is a huge win for communities, water quality, and wildlife on the Sea Islands! This would not have happened without the active and tireless engagement of community members on Seabrook Island and surrounding Sea Island communities.
I want to extend my gratitude to you for sharing your voice with town council through written comments and showing up last Tuesday to a packed Town Hall.
We appreciate the developer withdrawing their request and hope they will take this opportunity to engage in a community visioning process to create a more appropriate plan that is in alignment with this sensitive location along Bohicket Creek and outside the Urban Growth Boundary.
This outcome also provides a prime opportunity to strengthen the Urban Growth Boundary by establishing a formal four-way agreement between the Town of Seabrook Island, the Town of Kiawah Island, the City of Charleston, and Charleston County. These communities can now express their continued support of the Urban Growth Boundary and engage in collaborative conversations around balancing new growth with the existing communities and irreplaceable natural resources of the Sea Islands.
Background on this issue:
In July, Conservation League staff began meeting with Seabrook community members about a request to annex a tract of land on Johns Island into the town of Seabrook Island. As you may know, the annexation has been requested by a developer so they can build a private yacht club and marina on Bohicket Creek.
As I’ve learned from many of you these last few weeks, hundreds of residents of Seabrook Island are opposed to this proposed development. We share their concerns! This project would have negative impacts to the wetlands, wildlife, and water quality of Bohicket Creek and would set a disastrous precedent for additional urban sprawl on Johns Island.
Unfortunately, despite extensive public opposition, the Planning Commission of the Town of Seabrook Island recently voted to recommend approval of the annexation, as well as rezoning the nearly 18-acre Andell Tract from agricultural residential to mixed-use so a developer can build a private yacht club.
Concerns with this proposed annexation and rezoning are extensive:
- The existing Urban Growth Boundary separates urban and suburban areas from rural areas in order to protect the character and ecology of rural lands. There are ongoing efforts to strengthen the Urban Growth Boundary on the Sea Islands. Seabrook’s decision to annex and rezone this land would undermine those efforts and could spark a frenzied land grab between Seabrook and Kiawah for more rural land on Johns Island.
- Construction of the marina and increased marina activities would have disastrous impacts on wetlands, wildlife and water quality through direct destruction by the marina structure, as well as increased boat traffic and pollution from spills and stormwater runoff.
- Bohicket Creek is classified by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control as an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW). This recognizes its outstanding recreational and ecological benefits, and requires increased scrutiny for any projects that would negatively impact the creek. The developer does not yet have any of the required permits to construct the proposed marina, and has not yet shared any specific plans for the marina structure itself. So, we don’t know the full impacts this development would have on the environment. Town Council should not annex and rezone the property without knowing the full impacts it will have on Bohicket Creek and Haulover Creek.
- The current development proposal includes a 200-space parking lot, a boat house, and a detached hotel, which suggests that the property would be used as an event venue. This brings an entirely new set of concerns into the equation, including increased noise and light pollution, along with increased traffic during event hours.