Tempers flare on Shem Creek when business owners confront Mt. Pleasant Town Council members over controversial plans for their properties.
Tyler Flesch is the developer with Shem Creek Development Group LLC, who is working on the new office building and parking garage along Shem Creek.
Flesch says, “It is not for sale, your only avenue to anything here is eminent domain. I’ll save you the money and the research right now.”
But the councilmen say they aren’t interested in buying the businesses.
Mt. Pleasant Town Councilman Joe Bustos says, “No business is going to be taken over by the town or closed. There were rumors that Reds was going to close, RB’s was going to close, not true.”
Bustos says they have to appraise the entire area even if the town is only looking to acquire a small portion.
He says, “Might there be 10-15 feet of that? Yes. But the business sites themselves where they sit now? Absolutely not.”
Small areas for things like sidewalks.
Bustos says, “Get sidewalks put in on the other side of Coleman Boulevard, there is no sidewalk connecting Mill Street.”
But Mt. Pleasant Town Councilman Mark Smith says plan for the office building and parking garage, already under construction on the side, includes those sidewalks.
Smith says, “All of those sidewalks are already scheduled to be in that property and if this is not a step towards ultimately eminent domain, then I guess I’m very very confused.”
Many of the business owners question the council members’ alliances, like Councilman Jim Owens’ former position on the Save Shem Creek Board of Directors, and a Facebook post he made during the election promising to use eminent domain on the property.
Bustos says, “I will tell you that since the election, and since Mr. Owens’ resignation from Save Shem Creek, he has not advocated eminent domain, condemnation or anything else here.”
Flesch says, “I can only go on what he publishes, sir. He’s standing right here, he can comment. Please I will step out of the way and the media can ask him what he means by the statement.”
Bustos says, “Well that happened before the election, we’re talking about since the election.”
And other business owners are concerned they will get caught in the crossfire of debate over the office building property.
Billy Simmons of Snowmill LLC owns the property where Red’s, Tavern & Table, and the new office building is located.
He says, “Listening to the way they were talking, they really want this piece of property because they are trying to fulfill campaign pledges.”
And Carole Olindo, owner of the old Sette restaurant building, says, “We are caught in the middle of a vendetta here.”
The Mt. Pleasant Town Council has only approved a motion to begin appraising the land around Shem Creek. No acquisitions or offers to purchase the land have been approved.