Thursday, January 18, 2024 News · Press Releases

Members of environmental groups allowed to intervene in Lofton Road Mine lawsuit

by Lily Abromeit

Represented by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, the Coastal Conservation League and Friends of Coastal South Carolina were recently granted approval to take part in legal action to oppose a proposed mine that would threaten important habitat and adversely impact the local community in rural Charleston County.

As a small fishing town in rural Charleston County, McClellanville and the surrounding area are known for their outstanding water quality and famous Bull’s Bay oysters, clams and shrimp. However, a proposed sand mine near the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Lofton Road has the potential to adversely affect the environment, as well as disrupt the rural, agricultural, and community aesthetic of the McClellanville area.

In late 2023, the Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals denied a Special Exception Permit for the proposed sand mine, which is within the County’s Agricultural Preservation (AG-10) zoning district. Blessing Investments, the owner of the property, then sued the Board for denying the project. In November, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and Friends of Coastal South Carolina, filed a motion to intervene to protect their member’s interests in the action. This motion to intervene was granted by the court on December 14.

The site joins Little Wambaw Swamp Wilderness Area on the Francis Marion National Forest and threatens the habitat of a variety of species found in the swampy waters and forests of these protected special places.

“The proposed sand mine not only threatens a delicate environmental balance but also casts a looming shadow over the future of McClellanville,” said Madison Martin, Staff Attorney at the South Carolina Environmental Law Project. “Our intervention seeks to protect not just the habitats and aesthetics but also the very soul of this town, safeguarding it from an ill-fitting project that jeopardizes its core values and the safety of its community.”

The proposed mine would only be 900ft from James-Santee Elementary-Middle School—far too close. St. James Santee Elementary-Middle School is used year-round as a school, after-school program, and recreation center for the community.

Through intervention, members of Coastal Conservation League and Friends of Coastal South Carolina will have a seat at the table, joining the lawsuit to oppose the mine.

“The Board of Zoning Appeals were right to listen to all the residents, business owners, and school officials who joined us in voicing concerns over the last year and a half and ultimately deny their request,” said Riley Egger, Land, Water & Wildlife Program Director at the Coastal Conservation League. “The community was clear—schools and sand mines don’t belong together, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to continue to share these concerns with the court.”

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