SCELP launches lawsuit to “protect Gadsden Creek from destruction”

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CHARLESTON S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) has filed a lawsuit to protect a historic creek in Downtown Charleston from being partially filled and built upon by developers. Those with the firm say there will be an automatic stay—which means WestEdge cannot continue their plans of construction for a number of months.

The request for the contested case by the law firm on behalf of the Friends of Gadsden Creek, a group consisting of 850 community members, comes after state health officials said the development could begin on Gadsden Creek back in June.

The firm says not only is the creek still functioning and is one of the last remaining tidal creeks on the peninsula, but is known as a Critical Area. A Critical Area, according to Ben Cunningham, a Staff Attorney for South Carolina Environmental Law Project says should have been protected better by the state’s own provisions.

We’re certainly concerned and somewhat baffled by how DHEC could issue this critical area permit given the language in its own regulations and in the statutory policies and regulatory policies they are supposed to follow. Critical areas are supposed to be given high protections and here it doesn’t appear that they were.  

Ben Cunningham, Staff Attorney for SCELP

Friends of Gadsden Creek have long opposed the destruction of the creek. In addition to concerns about flooding, loss of habitat, and other aesthetic injuries, the group says the WestEdge project continues the historical pattern of taking from the area and community.

Mika Gadsden with Friends of Gadsden Creek says the area known as Gadsden Green has had tremendous environmental injustice visited upon them historically and, “we feel like filling the remaining 4-acres of this vital wetland resource we feel as if this is just repeating, history repeating itself in the most unfortunate way especially in light of the climate crisis issue that we are facing”. 

Environmental activists also utilize the creek to teach the younger generation about conservation and to keep Lowcountry history alive, the group is also hoping the legal action is also a teaching moment. Gadsden says, “what we are trying to do is use this as a moment to teach the City of Charleston, to teach those in power, they have to learn from the past and course correct when we can and there’s no better time than now”.

In regard to the lawsuit, WestEdge says in part. “it is unfortunate that the filing by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project will delay much-needed relief for the westside community, but the WestEdge Foundation remains steadfast in its commitment to address the challenging situation with positive results”.

Full Statement From WestEdge:

For more on the lawsuit, click here.

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