Since the rezoning of the entire 9,000-acre tract by the City of Charleston, the developers have maintained communication with the League. Following public opposition to the proposed industrial uses on the northern portion of the property and intent to develop 18,000 residential units, the developers have since eliminated the industrial zones and reduced the number of residential units by half. Further, they are proposing to mitigate any impacts to wetlands on the property by establishing a nearly 600-acre preserve that will be held under easement by the Lord Berkeley Land Trust along with a greenbelt buffer along the Francis Marion National Forest. The League is continuing to work closely with the landowners and our conservation and community partners to further protect as much of the ecological and cultural resources on the 9,000-acre tract as possible.
About the Project
This 9,000 acre tract contains significant ecological and historical assets that will be destroyed or endangered by the development schematic outlined in the plan currently proposed by the owner. There are approximately 5,800 acres of upland and 3,200 acres of wetlands and marshes on the property. The approximately 4,500 acres north of Clements Ferry Road are primarily freshwater wetlands and Longleaf pine forests, while the southern portion is primarily uplands with young stands of loblolly pines and saltwater wetlands. With over 10 linear miles of marsh and wetland frontage on the Cooper and Wando Rivers and Beresford and Flagg Creeks, Cainhoy Plantation is rich with environmental, historical, and cultural treasures. Cainhoy Plantation shares a two-mile border with the 250,000-acre Francis Marion National Forest (“FMNF”), which is home to nine endangered and threatened animal species, eight endangered and threatened plant species, 15 sensitive animal species, and 43 sensitive plant species. A broad plateau of old-growth Longleaf pine forest, some 40 feet in elevation, stretches from the FMNF across the northern portion of the Cainhoy property, providing habitat for 16 endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker (“RCW”) colonies and populations of Gopher Frogs and Flatwoods Salamanders. Without a full-scale environmental study in the form of an EIS, the presence of these species on Cainhoy Plantation, as well as the impacts that will result from the proposed development, will remain largely ignored and unmitigated.
In 2014, the property owners received approval from the City of Charleston for a rezoning, in the form of a Planned Unit Development, of the entire 9,000 acres consistent with the proposed Master Plan and the School District of Berkeley County completed construction of a high school and elementary/middle school on the southern portion of Cainhoy Plantation in 2016.
In light of the pace at which permitting is moving forward, it is clear that the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act require a full-scale environmental review of the entire 9,000-acre project before irreparable harm is done to the valuable historic, environmental, and cultural resources on Cainhoy Plantation. We are continuing discussions with the landowner and our conservation partners about the future of this beautiful property – sign up below for updates and notices about ways to get involved.