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The city of Charleston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have argued that North Charleston’s “leap frog” annexation inside the rural Ashley River Historic District will destroy the area’s continuity and damage its archeological significance.And now, almost five years since the legal fight began, the courts still aren’t convinced.In the latest decision involving the annexation dispute between two of the state’s largest cities, the S.C. Court of Appeals did not block North Charle...
The city of Charleston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have argued that North Charleston’s “leap frog” annexation inside the rural Ashley River Historic District will destroy the area’s continuity and damage its archeological significance.
And now, almost five years since the legal fight began, the courts still aren’t convinced.
In the latest decision involving the annexation dispute between two of the state’s largest cities, the S.C. Court of Appeals did not block North Charleston’s annexation of a 1-acre parcel along S.C. Highway 61 which could eventually pave the way for North Charleston’s expansion throughout West Ashley.
The appeals court’s unanimous ruling affirmed the 2019 ruling by Circuit Judge Eugene Griffith Jr. The lower court ruled in 2019 that neither Charleston nor the National Trust have the legal right to challenge North Charleston’s 2017 annexation.
“We find respondents lack standing to challenge the annexation of the acre by North Charleston,” wrote Chief Judge Bruce Williams in the Feb. 1 decision. “Therefore, further consideration of the matter by this court is foreclosed.”
In 2017, North Charleston properly annexed the 113 acre-tract known as Runnymede Plantation off S.C. Highway 61 owned by the Whitfield Construction Co. The company then gave North Charleston an acre of land on the opposite side of S.C. 61 which North Charleston attorneys have said is adjacent to the larger, 2,200-acre tract also owned by Whitfield.
The city of Charleston argues the annexation of the acre was not proper because it jumps over a strip of land — a 100-foot wide buffer running along the highway — that was already owned by the National Trust and annexed into the Charleston.
Charleston plans to appeal the court’s latest decision to the state Supreme Court because state law “clearly forbids this kind of land jumping, and allowing it to stand would set a terrible precedent,” city spokesman Jack O’Toole said.
In late 2017, around the same time North Charleston hopped over Charleston’s boundary to claim the 1-acre parcel, the city of Charleston annexed a total of about 6,000 acres in the surrounding area. That annexation included the 2,200-acre Whitfield tract and a 30-acre property called Millbrook Plantation LLC.
Because the city used the 75 percent rule, it was able to take both properties without the owners’ consent because 75 percent of surrounding property owners with 75 percent of the total land value had asked to join the city.
Property owners who joined included those who wanted to preserve the area’s rural character. North Charleston responded two days later with its own attempt to annex the Millbrook and Whitfield properties. Though North Charleston started its annexation last, it finished its annexation before Charleston.
Charleston argued that under the “prior jurisdiction doctrine,” it was allowed to finish the process without interference. The appeals court affirmed that the Supreme Court has refused to adopt that doctrine.
Charleston says it also has environmental concerns.
The city alleges that North Charleston’s “scheme” to use the 1-acre lot to gain continuity with the abutting 2,200-acre parcel would eventually bring unwanted development. Charleston and the National Trust emphasize that development on that tract would not be controlled by the Charleston Urban Growth Boundary, designed to limit construction along the rural corridor.
Overdevelopment would lead to the destruction of the archeological significance of the district, the city and National Trust said.
“This massive tract sits at the top of the Church Creek drainage basin,” O’Toole said. “We have a duty to protect it from overdevelopment in order to prevent flooding throughout the entire area.”
North Charleston is pleased with the ruling.
“The city of North Charleston appreciates the thoughtful consideration provided by the Court of Appeals and is pleased to see the trial court’s ruling in favor of North Charleston affirmed,” said City Attorney Derk Van Raalte.
The case was expected to help clarify state annexation law, which says land to be annexed must be contiguous to land already in a city’s limits. North Charleston has argued in the past that its annexation of the 1 acre was legal due to a lesser-known statute that allows for cities to annex property “adjacent” to city limits.
But the appeals court acknowledged that their decision has not “yet addressed whether the term ‘adjacent’ within section 5-3-100 requires contiguity.”
Justices appear to want to be done with the matter.
“Respondents have failed to demonstrate that North Charleston’s annexation of the acre incites anything more than a boundary dispute between two municipalities,” Williams said. “Further, the absence of a challenge to the annexation by the State is illustrative of the State’s position on whether the matter rises to a level of public concern.”
North Charleston has halted work on a onetime budget hotel after building officials learned the owner was converting the guest rooms into apartments without checking in first with the city.The gray, six-story former Charleston Grand Hotel at 3640 Dorchester Road, just off Interstate 26, is now vacant.The property was sold in early 2022 for $4 million to Lakewood, N.J.-based CG21 LLC, which also listed a Myrtle Beach address in public land and bank records.After the sale, a sign on the door stated that the economy hotel w...
North Charleston has halted work on a onetime budget hotel after building officials learned the owner was converting the guest rooms into apartments without checking in first with the city.
The gray, six-story former Charleston Grand Hotel at 3640 Dorchester Road, just off Interstate 26, is now vacant.
The property was sold in early 2022 for $4 million to Lakewood, N.J.-based CG21 LLC, which also listed a Myrtle Beach address in public land and bank records.
After the sale, a sign on the door stated that the economy hotel was closed for a renovation project that would convert the guest rooms into apartments.
Those plans were neither filed with nor approved by the city, which issued a “stop-work” order after discovering that construction was underway.
According to the city, the building owner was told that in order to proceed with the project it needed to apply for the necessary permits. Also, inspections would be required to convert the structure from a hospitality use to a residential use.
CG21 could not be reached for comment.
North Charleston building official Darbis Briggman said inspections have determined that a significant amount of work would be needed to bring the property up to code before the units could be rented as apartments.
“The use of the building changes what we look for,” Briggman said. “For example, think of how much more water and sewer usage there is for an apartment complex compared to a hotel. Can the system handle that water usage at all hours of the day? What if there’s a kitchen fire in a building with no sprinklers?”
He said the owner should have hired a professional to draw up plans and consult with the city as to what inspections, upgrades, permits or zoning requests were needed.
Briggman added that hotels across the country are “thinking outside of the box” and looking at apartment conversions to generate a steadier revenue stream or repurpose aging buildings.
The previous owner of the Charleston Grand property and past potential buyers had explored the idea of converting the rooms into affordable housing, but those plans never materialized.
Briggman said the representatives of the property owner recently told the city that the apartment deal has been abandoned and that the plan now is to reopen the building as a hotel.
The company will need to reapply for a business license and a building code inspection, he added.
“There is a process to ensure it is up to code, and we will walk through the building again to make sure it’s taken care of before it comes back online as a hotel,” Briggman said. “It’s our job to ensure that anyone who stays there can feel comfortable and safe.”
In addition to the unauthorized renovations, CG21 is being sued for alleged breach of contract by a restaurant that leased space in the hotel.
In the early 1980s, a Howard Johnson Inn operated on the Dorchester Road property. It was replaced by Clarion Inn & Suites around 2008, and the name was changed again less than a decade later to Charleston Grand Hotel.
BEAUFORT, Sc. (WTOC) - Debris from the missing F-35 military jet has been found, according to Joint Base Charleston.A debris field has been located in Williamsburg County, South Carolina, two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston.In statement from Joint Base Charleston says, “teams from Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing out of MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the FAA, the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county, and state law enforcement across South Caro...
BEAUFORT, Sc. (WTOC) - Debris from the missing F-35 military jet has been found, according to Joint Base Charleston.
A debris field has been located in Williamsburg County, South Carolina, two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston.
In statement from Joint Base Charleston says, “teams from Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing out of MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the FAA, the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county, and state law enforcement across South Carolina have been working together to locate the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B.”
Joint Base Charleston asks community members to avoid the area as the debris field is secured. They are also transferring command to the USMC as the recovery process begins.
The acting commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric M. Smith, has also directed all Marine Corps aviation unites to stand down in operations for the next two days after three Class-A aviation mishaps over the last six weeks.
The mishap is under investigation, and Joint Base Charleston says they are “unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process.”
Personnel from Joint Base Charleston and @MCASBeaufortSC, in close coordination with local authorities, have located a debris field in Williamsburg County. The debris was discovered two hours northeast of JB Charleston.— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 18, 2023
The F-35 military jet had been missing in South Carolina since Sunday afternoon. The pilot ejected safely but the plane is yet to be found.
The F-35 is part of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron based in Beaufort.
WTOC confirmed Monday morning that the search radius for this jet had expanded all the way up to Florence, South Carolina.
All of this leaving Congresswoman Nancy Mace frustrated and questioning the investment made into these planes.
“This $80 million question is where is it and if the beacon or transponder device within an $80 million dollar brand new jet doesn’t work, what else doesn’t work in it? How much many has been invested into this program to see a jet like this fail for whatever reason?” said Rep. Mace.
Per usual, there have been planes flying all around Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Monday, but none had been able to find the missing F-35 jet.
We’re working with @MCASBeaufortSC to locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap this afternoon. The pilot ejected safely. If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 17, 2023
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A U.S. fighter jet’s stealth abilities appear to be working too well, as it took authorities hours to locate a debris field after an F-35 went missing when the pilot ejected because of a “mishap.”The debris was discovered Monday evening about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston, officials said, without providing further details.The base had been working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to "locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap" Sunday afternoon....
A U.S. fighter jet’s stealth abilities appear to be working too well, as it took authorities hours to locate a debris field after an F-35 went missing when the pilot ejected because of a “mishap.”
The debris was discovered Monday evening about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston, officials said, without providing further details.
The base had been working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to "locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap" Sunday afternoon.
The pilot was able to safely eject from the aircraft, an F-35B Lightning II jet, and was taken to a local medical center in stable condition, it said in a Facebook post around 5:35 p.m. ET.
The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing — the jet belongs to one of the unit's training squadrons — confirmed Sunday's "mishap" and that "the pilot had safely ejected from the aircraft."
“The mishap is currently under investigation.” Captain Joe Leitner, the spokesperson for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said.
The jet was in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected from the aircraft, Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman at Joint Base Charleston, said. Authorities believed there was a possibility that it could have remained airborne for some time.
The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The circumstances that prompted the pilot to eject from the aircraft were not immediately clear.
Joint Base Charleston said in a statement that it coordinated with units and leaders in the Marines and Navy, as well as the FAA, Civil Air Patrol and local law enforcement across South Carolina. The base said searchers were using "both ground and air assets" in the effort.
When asked early Monday whether the jet had crashed, Huggins said he was unable to elaborate. He promised, however, that more information would be forthcoming. Further questions to Joint Base Charleston were directed to the Marines, which said it could not provide "additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process."
Huggins said searchers initially focused their attention north of the air base around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion based on the jet's last-known position and coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration. That effort expanded on Monday afternoon, as searchers had little luck in the initial search area.
The search for the F-35 jet drew international interest, particularly after Joint Base Charleston put out a request on social media for “any information” that might aid in the search for the fighter jet.
The incident also attracted some criticism, with Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., asking in a social media post: "How in the hell do you lose an F-35?"
"How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?" she wrote.
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin describes the F-35 series on its website as the "most advanced fighter jet in the world," as well as the "most lethal, stealthy and survivable aircraft."
The F-35 family includes three single-seat variants, including the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jet, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant and the F-35C carrier.
Chantal Da Silva
Chantal Da Silva is a breaking news editor for NBC News Digital based in London.
Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter.
Mosheh Gains contributed.
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Keith Summey’s name will not be on the ballot for North Charleston mayor this November for the first time in nearly three decades.
Summey, 76, announced in March that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term.
“I’m just not in it this time,” he said. “I’m in a position where I know I’m leaving it better than I found it and in life that’s all we can ask for.”
When he came into office in 1994, Summey says North Charleston — which has become a major industrial and economic hub for South Carolina — was much different.
“A lot of turmoil was going on,” he recalled. “The [Navy] Base was closing, people thought we were going to lay down and die. Instead, we’ve grown.”
He faced tough challenges over the years from managing the city’s growth to the 2015 shooting of Walter Scott. But, Summey believes his greatest accomplishment was revamping the city’s image.
“The greatest accomplishment is probably that we’re not ignored anymore,” he shared. “We’re part of everything that’s a necessity for this area. North Charleston is looked up to today instead of down at. We didn’t have a lot of respect.”
During his tenure, Mayor Summey was instrumental in revitalizing the area surrounding the former Navy Base, attracting major corporations like Boeing and Roper St. Francis Hospital, and building new parks, playgrounds, and community resources to support the growing population.
“I can say we’ve had more successes than we’ve had disappointments, but if you don’t try things, you don’t get anywhere,” he said.
But not all of those efforts were met with open arms, Summey remembers. He faced criticism throughout his career with some accusing him of failing to adequately address issues like affordable housing, crime, and food deserts.
“When I first was elected to public office I used to get so upset if somebody disagreed with what I was doing and I’ve had to learn not to have such soft skin,” he said.
The mayor also recalled how some of his more progressive decisions, like supporting a city-wide LGBTQ+ pride festival, elicited mixed feedback from the community and other elected officials.
“I represent every citizen of the city of North Charleston, not just the ones that vote for me, not just the ones I agree with in lifestyle or anything else. I have to live with the decisions that I make and I have to know in my heart that I’ve done what I think is best for the community.”
Summey knows it is time for new leadership in the city, vowing to support whoever is elected to replace him, and offering himself as a resource.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he said. “I wish we could’ve accomplished even more. I love my city enough that I want to see it continue to flourish and I want it to be a place that my kids, and grandkids, and great-grandkids will want to say ‘This is home.'”