Wadmalaw, S.C. (WCBD)— Locals on Wadmalaw are fighting to protect the Island from development.
“This entire Island has a fragile ecosystem,” April Kemp, Wadmalaw Resident said.
Some residents say they feel that the Island is being threated by a farm that the owners are trying to rezone into a planned development that would allow short-term rentals and special events to be held on the property.
“To me it could be my own daughter doing this development and I would oppose it. We’re running the risk of setting a precedent for all unincorporated areas of Charleston County, not just Wadmalaw Island,” Jocelyn Graham, Wadmalaw Resident said.
The property raising concern amount locals is the Bolt Farm located on Maybank Highway.
The 30-acre tack of land is currently zoned as an agricultural preservation, but the owners have requested for Charleston County to re-zone it as a planned development, so that it can be further developed.
“We believe that we’ve created an inspiring environment where people can come to reconnect with nature, reconnect with their family, and reconnect with their purpose,” Seth Bolt said.
Currently, four houses sit on the property and the zoning allows for two of the houses to be short-term rentals for a max of 72 days per year.
If the planned development zoning is approved, the number of houses allowed on the property would be increased to eight. Seven of the eight houses would be allowed to be short-term rentals for 365 days per year.
The rezoning would also allow the property to house 25 special events per year with a max of 99 guests with food, music, and staff.
Some locals say that Wadmalaw Island’s current infrastructure cannot support this.
“We don’t have our own police force on this Island. We share with the sheriff’s department of all of Charleston County and again, its never been that we needed constant police presence, because the Island was small. This will take away the small factor,” Kemp said.
One local says that he wants Wadmalaw Island land that is zoned as agricultural preservation to be protected and not commercialized.
“I’m not personally against Airbnb for supplemental income or even primary income in places where its appropriate, but I don’t think that Wadmalaw is the appropriate place for it,” Augustine Kim, Wadmalaw Resident said.
More than a thousand names have signed an online petition asking Charleston County not to rezone the land for more development, but the owners say they’re eager to share the land they love with others.
“We love and respect Wadmalaw. I was born and raised in South Carolina. We want to start a family here and we want to be the next generation who protects and preserves the unique and cherished character of this Island,” Seth Bolt said.
The owners of the Wadmalaw property, Seth and Tori Bolt, currently own a Luxury Treehouse rental in Walhalla, S.C.
For those who want to weigh-in on this, Charleston County will hold a public hearing at Charleston County Council at 6pm on October 8th.