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County Council March 2,

Stalemate on letter to President Bush protesting forestland sales
But unanimous on letter to Corps on Port access road
Warwick Jones

The Chairman asked that Council members put aside political consideration. He wanted members, meeting as the Finance Committee to endorse a letter to President Bush protesting the sale of forest land in South Carolina and in particular, the Francis Marion Forest. Whether the council members put aside political considerations, we don't know. But the split of voting was 4 in support and 4 against with Republicans and Democrats on each side. The request will now go to Council on Tuesday night where most likely the vote will remain the same and the issue will die.

Chairman Stavrinakis stated that a lot of people in the State had protested and it was proper that County Council also express its view. Council member Bostic was not happy about the sale but he would want a lot more information on the sale, and disposal of the proceeds before he would endorse a letter. Council members Darby and Scott expressed concern about County Council getting involved in a Federal matter and Council member Pryor wished that Council members would get as passionate about some other issues before Council as they were on this one.

Council members supporting the Chairman were Fava, Inabinett and Condon. Council member Fava conceded that Council member Bostic made some good points and Councilmember Inabinett suggested that the County needed greenspace and that the fiscal needs of the Federal Government were not so dire to justify the sale.

For the record, the Federal Government recently announced plans to sell 307,000 acres of forestland throughout the US and which was composed largely of small parcels. Of the total, 4,569 acres were in South Carolina and 1,095 acres in the Francis Marion forest. The proceeds from the sale of all the land was projected to realize some $800 million, and were to be used for funding spending in rural areas and to include education.

Council ask Corps of Engineers to address concerns over Port Access road
The road linking the proposed container terminal and I-26 has raised concern of County Council. The final route has not yet been determined and the Army Corp of Engineers continues to gather information from citizens and others. However from the findings of the Corps as stated in its Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), it is clear that any of the 5 routes considered will adversely impact residents of communities in the southern area of North Charleston or the northern areas of the City of Charleston. Indeed, there have been suggestions that an access road, regardless of its location, will adversely impact communities and that another site for the port should be considered.

A map showing the access road alternatives can be seem by pressing here.

County Council, in an attempt to ameliorate the potential adverse impact sent a letter to the Corps from which we extract the following:

After reviewing the DEIS " we believe the existing information is incomplete and does not contain sufficient detail to make a recommendation of a preferred alternative. However, based upon review of this available information, we strongly request following concerns be addressed when developing a preferred alternative:

• Eliminate the local access connector: it would encourage truck traffic in neighborhoods where it would be inappropriate This local access road is not shown on the map and would stretch from the main Access Road close to the Port, across Spruill Avenue and join Hackerman Avenue.

Put the Access Road south of Union Heights neighborhood, preferably as far south as prudent design considerations would allow.

• Re-evaluate the need for the loop ramp for vehicles going South on I-26 from the new port facility shown in Alternatives 1A and 1B. It would appear that removing this movement from the interchange would discourage truck traffic from the Peninsula area, which could have ancillary benefits to the City of Charleston, and the West Ashley areas. If traffic does not warrant it, eliminating this ramp would allow Alternatives 1A and 1B to be moved further south, away from Union Heights without impacting Rosemont.

Sufficient participation of minorities and disadvantaged in road contracts?

Staff had completed its evaluation of proposals for projects in the Roadwise program and to be funded by the half-cent sales tax. It now sought Council permission to negotiate and award the contracts. The subsequent discussion generated more heat than light and centered on diversity and minority participation. Council member Darby expressed concern about the creation of new jobs and the participation of minorities and disadvantaged persons. There after the discussion went all over the place.

Council member Scott brought discussion back on track when he said that the County had a policy of 10% participation. Yes, LPA, the Transportation consultant had set a target of 18% for its own operations but the Council had not agreed to this level for other contracts. Council had been told by legal counsel that it should wait for the diversity study, now underway, before defining a specific target. Council could suggest an 18% target to contractors and he believed that such a suggestion would be taken seriously. But at this stage the 10% was the formal figure. Council member Scott added that LPA directly would account for only about $30 million of the sales tax proceeds. The balance, after subtracting CARTA and greenbelts, amounts to about $900 million.

Council will discuss the matter on Tuesday night but in the light of more information.

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