The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
November 29, 2009
Shrimp 'n Grits
College of Charleston – Plantation rich, but plan poorLee Walton
This past Sunday’s Palter and Chatter feature article, “Getting ‘Dixie Vision”, was nothing more than thinly veiled damage control to mitigate the College of Charleston’s recent, albeit still swelling, black-eye over its pending purchase and reported readaptive uses for the historic McLeod Plantation on James Island. Notwithstanding the obvious fact that the College and its nonprofit foundation are only fourteen years late and several million dollars short of any useful educational benefit from Dixie Plantation, both the College and its foundation are now scrambling to put a fresh face on their efforts to justify owning what the wife of one recent past president described as an expensive albatross around the College’s financial neck.
September 14, 2008
Shrimp 'n Grits
Riley’s Loan to College of Building Arts violates State Code of Laws
With little more than a muffled murmur on the evening of September 9th, Charleston City Council rubber-stamped Mayor Riley’s “financial lifeline to the American College of the Building Arts …agreeing to loan the fledgling school $734,500 to help pay operating expenses.” In doing so, both Council and the Mayor knowingly, flagrantly, and simultaneously violated Section 6-5-10 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina and national standard accounting policies which restrict municipal investments and loans to a very limited number of well secured, federally or state collateralized investment alternatives. This latest demonstration of Riley’s blatant control over his “bought-by-the-pound” council of lackeys ushered in yet another era in Riley’s escalating quest for absolute power to control the management and financial resources of Charleston.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:02 PM
September 10, 2008
City Council, September 9
Costly settlement on annexation issue
HCF takes City off the hook for School loan. Was its action appropriate?Marc Knapp
Two issues dominated last night's meeting of City Council. The first was the settlement with the St. Andrews Public Service District in relation to the reimbursement of property taxes. The second was the loan of $734,000 to the College of Building Arts. Members of the public had a lot to say in regard to the latter, both for and against. But Council again voted for the loan at its second reading with three Council members, Mitchell, Lewis and Mallard dissenting.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:04 PM
August 25, 2008
Shrimp 'n Grits
Failure of College of Building Arts could leave HCF holding the bag!Lee Walton
Sometimes noble ideas should remain just that; such may be true of the fledgling, albeit financially struggling, American College of the Building Arts. Initially proposed as the first liberal arts college of its kind in the nation to offer an accredited baccalaureate degree in applied building arts, ACOBA now appears to be on terminal life support with little hope of long-term survival. By its own admission, ACOBA has quickly blown through four presidents and over $14 million in private donations and public grants during its first three years of existence. At best, ACOBA now has just a few dozen full and part-time students including only seven of its original Class of 2009. In an act of shameless desperation, its latest new president and board of trustees have turned to the City of Charleston in a last gasping attempt to secure critically needed operating funds to pay day-to-day expenses and salaries with a loan from waning City tax revenues.
August 20, 2008
City Council, August 19
Sympathy but little hope for “baggy pants” ban
City accepts optimistic projections and provides loan for building schoolMarc Knapp
Council member Gilliard joins the state legislature at the beginning of next year. Many of us who were attending last night's meeting, and probably a number of the Council members wished it were sooner. The Council member and Council member Lewis were sponsoring an ordinance to stop what the considered indecent exposure by the youth of Charleston. It did not go down well with some Council members, one calling it silly and ridiculous. Council member Gilliard responded a number of times, each response becoming more shrill, heated and hostile. He derided the newly elected Council members, two of which spoke against the proposed ordinance. And if anybody were snickering, and that was his accusation, it was at the man, the hyperbole, and the exhaustion of all as the meeting pushed towards 5 hours.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:41 PM
June 18, 2007
Sales tax funds should be used to preserve McLeod Plantation
Does the College of Building Arts really need the site?Patricia Jones
Remember McLeod Plantation? Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) sold it to the then School of Building Arts (SOBA) to be developed into its new school campus. There was a public outcry from folk who wanted the plantation, at least what is left of it, preserved and restored. No, said the HCF. The plantation is a financial drag. We have tried to sell it to legitimate preservation groups but unsuccessfully. We will sell it to SOBA.
April 02, 2005
A Celebration or Desecration of Black History at McLeod?
Friends of McLeod
347 Cheves Drive
After recently celebrating Black History Month, I find it disturbing how our local leaders and historians have failed to preserve an invaluable piece of African American history at McLeod Plantation. Despite thousands of petitions and strong opposition at City Council Meetings, a school overlay was approved to allow for the American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) to build 21 new buildings and two parking lots. The property was recently sold by the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) to the ACBA under the guise of preservation. The easements and restrictions set forth by the HCF do anything but preserve this national historic treasure.
February 28, 2005
An African American Museum that costs $60 million? A Contentious Issue.
Remember the AquariumWarwick Jones, Editor
Remember 10 years ago when Aquariums were the rage of the nation. Many cities aspired to build one and some actually did - to their ultimate sorrow. All are financially against the ropes and Charleston's is no exception. Ours cost over $80 million and is losing nearly $2 million a year.
November 17, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting - November 16
An unusual meetingWarwick Jones, standing in for Patrica Jones
It was an unusual meeting. The main issues before the Board were two requests for reconsideration, one relating to the McLeod Plantation, the other to a property on Tradd Street. Both involved finer points of the law and involved no arguments in defense of previous positions.
Board disallows appeal over McLeod Plantation decision
The McLeod Plantation was probably the most important of the matters before the board. At its last meeting, the board was presented with a list of reasons why it should reconsider its earlier decision. Mr. Ben Peeples speaking on behalf of Friends of McLeod then stated the board had erred in its decision and had not made proper consideration of parking, traffic, visitors, archaeology and other factors. He also said that the Board has erred in procedure. The board rejected Mr. Peeples' arguments except the latter. It deferred a decision on the procedural issue while it waited on legal opinion from the City.
November 02, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - November 1
Appeal on McLeod Plantation decision still undecidedPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
The appeal by the Friends of McLeod against the decision of the Zoning Board to approve exceptions to the School Overlay in relation to the proposed School of Building Arts (SOBA) at McLeod Plantation was not resolved at the meeting last night. There were a number of issues that were raised by the attorney for the Friends of McLeod but the Chairman of the Board dismissed many of these as being outside the realm of the board. However, the issues of parking and voting procedure were legitimate, he said. After some discussion the board agreed that it had considered all of the factors affecting parking and on that basis alone, it would reject the appeal. However, the Chairman confessed to some discomfit on the way the decision was voted at the first meeting. He consequently sought legal opinion from the City Attorney and as of the meeting last night, had not been received. For this reason, the final decision was deferred.
September 22, 2004
Board of Zoning Appeals - September 21
Board has it both ways on McLeod PlantationPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
A tied vote of 3-3 brought to defeat the requested special exception sought by the School of Building Arts(SOBA). But with board member Smith unhappy with the outcome, a motion was made to approve the requested exception but with some restrictions. The motion passed in a 5 to 1 vote.
September 17, 2004
McLeod Plantation - Disappointment with City Council
1212 Taliaferro Ave.
What a disappointment our City Council leaders are. They do follow the leader well though. They don't have a clue about James Island or the importance of the McLeod property. Maybe we are just the little redheaded stepchild who gets handed down whatever scraps may be left. Most don't know we have already three large empty shopping center buildings, our traffic is horrendous and that there are people who care about their heritage. If they do, they seem to be either too tired to comprehend the issue so follow the leader, or they don't care as they have their own agenda. Thank God for Bob George, Kwadjo Campbell, and James Lewis who stood up for us and their own beliefs, opposing the rezoning on this valuable historic site. Admitted, it must be difficult for councilmembers to take some of the verbal abuse that comes their way. There surely are better ways to get one's point across besides calling people stupid! Fortunately there were only one or two of those folks and they made points about another issue and not this rezoning.
September 13, 2004
McLeod Plantation - An open letter to the Mayor, City Council, and the Board of the Historic Charleston Foundation
Carol S. Jacobsen
607 Wampler Drive
"Located across Charleston Harbor just southwest of the city, McLeod Plantation encompasses acres of fields and woods. McLeod offers the Foundation an opportunity to interpret the contributions and influences of the rural and agrarian South." The Historic Charleston Foundation website.
I note with concern that we seem to be entering a war of words regarding the opposition by the Friends of McLeod, Inc. to the sale of McLeod Plantation to the School of the Building Arts. The Friends of McLeod, Inc. are dedicated to preserving and protecting all aspects of McLeod Plantation including its house, slave cabins, outbuildings, cemetery, oak allees, woods, and character-defining fields. We want to inform and educate the public on the plantation's historical importance, its military history, its importance in the Civil War, and particularly its importance in African-American history, from slavery to the Civil War to freedom.
September 08, 2004
The Historic Charleston Foundation - Watchdog or tail-waggin' Spaniel?
Warwick Jones, Editor
The Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) can take pride in the large role it has played in preserving many of the City's historic houses. Over the years it has acquired houses, imposed covenants, and resold the properties to buyers prepared to maintain their historical integrity. It has also played the role of watchdog in BAR, Planning Commission and Zoning Board hearings, often opposing developments that were out of character with the surrounds. As well as these things, it holds house and garden tours that do much to advertise the charm and attraction of our city. So having paid these compliments, there were many of us wondering why the HCF plans to sell the McLeod Plantation property to the American School of Building Arts (SOBA), and why it was so supportive of the City's plan to raise the height restriction in the Ansonborough Field area? Prima facie, we would assume that HCF would have opposed both these moves.
Zoning Board Meeting September 7
Variance applications for McLeod deferredPatricia Jones who covers Zoning
The Board last night declined to hear the application for a variance in relation to the Mc Leod plantation. It thought that it was premature for the City to be asking for variances before the actual School overlay plan had been approved by council. One of the Board members thought it might be worthwhile to discuss the issue to provide some guidance to the City but this was rejected by the other members.
September 05, 2004
McLeod Plantation- "Fight is not over"
Carol S. Jacobsen
607 Wampler Drive
Partial interest in the McLeod Plantation was left to the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) in 1990. It, in turn, purchased full title to the property in 1993, "thus saving the plantation, the complex of antebellum outbuildings and archeological resources from future development." The preceding sentence is a direct quote from the HCF website, which goes on to wax poetic about the history and the house, the unique kitchen and dairy structures, the barn and the rarity of the still existing slave cabins. By accepting the Willie McLeod gift, the Historic Charleston Foundation accepted responsibility and stewardship of this magical historic site as "an opportunity to interpret the contributions and influences of the rural and agrarian South."
September 01, 2004
"Friends" gather to save McLeod from SOBA
Warwick Jones, Editor
The City of Charleston has begun the process allowing the School of Building Arts to acquire the McLeod Plantation. The issue comes before the Board of Zoning Appeals -Zoning, Tuesday, September 7 at 5:15 pm, 75 Calhoun St., and the opponents of the sale are gathering. The opponents, and there are many, want to see the Plantation preserved and open to the public. They have formed a group called Friends of McLeod, dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Plantation. They have also been joined by the Cities of Folly Beach and James Island.
August 06, 2004
Green space - Can we take Mayor Riley seriously?
Warwick Jones, Editor
"In the blink of an eye, we could destroy an irreplaceable natural area or allow a use which irresponsibly changes a special place. Therefore we must be more prepared than ever. We must have a community vision and sound proactive initiatives in place. All developments and physical changes in our community must pass two fundamental tests. First, is what is planned excellent? Is it the best it can be? If the answer is no, it shouldn't be done. Second, will what is being proposed be useful and celebrated from 50 to 100 years from now? if the answer is no, it must not be allowed. We don't have to make compromises in quality now, if ever we did." Mayor Riley. 2000 Inaugural Address
Mayor Riley has made a lot of noise in the past about Charleston's need for green space. Actually we have press clippings that go back to 1975 where he is quoted about the need. There also was a charette the City organized on parks and green space a month or so after the charette on Ansonborough Field. I suppose that this was some sort of palliative for us who resented the loss of Ansonborough Field, or a large part of it, to the developer's hoe.
July 29, 2004
The vultures gather
Alfred F. Croucher III
469 Riverland Dr
The town of James Island has $3 million in the bank. I see the vultures landing to rip out their share. While our officials figure out how to approach the State Supreme court on reversing its decision, they gather. On the edge of the Town limits the bulldozers and constrution workers line up for the whistle to blow so their machinery can begin, again, the destruction of our rural peace. The line at the bank is growing longer as the committees and government agencies begin fighting over their share of the funds we've put away for the good of our island.
July 21, 2004
City Council Meeting June 20 -
McLeod Plantation development and Neck Area project approved
A questionable rezoning, CARTA budget approved without commentMarc Knapp who covers City Council
McLeod Plantation to be developed
Well, maybe the Mc Leod Plantation will not be developed in the strict sense of the word, but many in the community feel that the acquisition by the American School of Building Arts will represent the equivalent. After a very long and emotional session, the Council approved the inclusion of the 31.5 acres that represents the major part of the Plantation in the School Overlay Zone classification. This clears the way for the School to purchase the Plantation from the Historic Foundation, and for the School to add those buildings that will be necessary to provide facilities for the 144 students that are expected to be enrolled.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:34 PM
July 13, 2004
Planning Commission Meeting, July 12
Is the Building Arts College good for McLeod Plantation?
Pat Jones who covers Planning
It is possibly the only intact plantation in all of America. Plantation house, slave houses, oak allee, magnificent vistas from the front piazza plus fields, where once, rice was cultivated. But, no, that wasn't enough to convince the Planning Commission that McLeod was worth preserving. Misty-eyed students and McLeod board members (of which there were so-o-o many) positively swooned whenever the proposed school was mentioned.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 09:40 PM