A land disturbance permit for the Shem Creek Parking Garage/Office Building project has been filed with the South Carolina DHEC/OCRM office, and there are only two short days left for the public to submit their comments. Once this permit is issued, the project can proceed with obtaining a building permit from the Town. OCRM is not concerned with Mt. Pleasant’s zoning issues, but they are seeking comments of an environmental and cultural nature that may affect the permitting process. Here’s how to do it – email your concerns and comments to Curtis Joyner at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tara Maddock at email@example.com and reference the project as notice number CZC-15-0297 with the name of “Shem Creek Office Building.” Comments need to be sent in by this Thursday (tomorrow) evening (April 16th). Feel free to borrow from the thoughts below when you email in your comments if you share the same concerns.
Save Shem Creek Corp. has concerns on several fronts that we would like to see OCRM and the relevant agencies address prior to issuing any permits for this project. First, this project is proposing to park many more cars onsite than is done so currently, and we would like OCRM to ensure that the best practices are being used to ensure that the oil and gas and other pollutants from the cars are being treated property before making their way to Shem Creek. In addition, it appears from design plans that drains will be causing storm water to sheet flow across the adjacent surface parking lot, thus picking up pollution along the way to Shem Creek. The construction of this building should certainly not increase the likelihood of auto pollution being carried to Shem Creek.
Second, the property the structure is proposed to be built on was primarily salt marsh up until the 1950’s, and anecdotes from longtime local residents make it clear that the marsh at this site was often filled in with Municipal Solid Waste rather than clean fill dirt. We have strong reservations about the potential effects on Shem Creek and the local water table that would result from concrete pilings being driven through MSW and disturbing and carrying it down to greater depths. We believe this is an issue that clearly needs to be addressed by the proper department at DHEC prior to any permits being issued. The available science on this issue appears to be sparse and inconclusive, and we do not believe the issue has been addressed in the least for this project yet.
Third, this property is included in a National Register Historic District for the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant that stretches from Shem Creek to McCants Drive. Due to the prominent location and unprecedented height and scale of this building relative to the rest of the Historic District, a cultural resources survey needs to be required by the South Carolina SHPO office to determine the visual and character effects on the remainder of the Historic District by this proposed structure. As one crosses the Shem Creek bridge, rather than seeing the bank of historic live oak trees bordering the marsh of Shem Creek, which gives visual reference to the location of the Historic District, this project will destroy those views. At the very least, a view shed analysis needs to be conducted as part of a cultural resources survey and reviewed by SHPO.