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County Council, October 19

Council endorses Finance Committee recommendation on Mark Clark
The sad plight of property holders in its possible path

Warwick Jones

Council made no substantial changes to the Finance Committee’s decision on the Mark Clark extension. The SC Department of Transport (DOT) will be asked

to further study plans for completion of I-526 Project, in addition to Alternative G to include:
1. Improve existing roads within the scope of the project
2. Proposal submitted at the Finance Committee entailing the completion of the project, without the James Island Leg
3. Further investigate New Ways to Work Plan

All continued analysis should bear in mind legal and financial constraints.

As we said in our report on the Finance Committee meeting, we think the Alternative G plan proposed by the DOT is dead. Too many citizens are against it, the benefits are questioned. And although the State Infrastructure Bank will bear most of the cost, the County will have to find more than $60 million for its share. And it doesn’t have it.

Only Council member Schweers voted against the proposal. He reluctantly supported it at the Finance Committee meeting. He is opposed to Alternative G and questions whether the traffic on Johns Island roads is so bad that the Mark Clark extension is a necessary relief. He also questioned whether the proposal that is to be sent to the DOT will fly with the Infrastructure Bank. There was a chance that the County would lose all the funding, he said. It seems he now wants nothing to do with Alternative G, the truncated Alternative G and the other DOT alternatives, all seemingly bad ideas.

And there were citizens in attendance who were sympathetic to Council member Schweers view, not because they opposed the extension, they just wanted done with the whole thing. They owned property over which the Mark Clark extension would be built. The question posed for a few years now has been will their property be acquired by the State or not? Now it seems that with the County’s new request, a decision as to proceed will be delayed another year or more.

As these citizens said last night they cannot move forward with their lives. The State is waiting for the County to make a decision before it acquires the property. And in the meantime, the prospect but not certainty of condemnation, makes it impossible to sell the property. Who is going to pay a market price for such property?

And the woes of the affected citizens are exacerbated by the poor economic climate. In one development in the way of Alternative G, two of the 9 houses are in foreclosure while some of the other property owners are refinancing or attempting to, said one citizen

Council member Summey, who was sympathetic to the plight of the property owners asked to see one speaker after the meeting. We wonder whether the Council member can offer anything but soft words. But there does seem an injustice.