In Mount Pleasant, S.C., an effort to extend sewer lines to houses with failing septic systems in one community remains unresolved despite statements to the contrary by town and county officials.
According to The Post and Courier, the issue — connecting existing homes to a sewer system that works — is a challenge in many parts of the Charleston area. In the Snowden community, efforts have been complicated by cost issues, litigation and a town annexation regulation aimed at controlling growth.
“It’s a really complicated mess,” said Herb Sass, Charleston County Councilman, whose district includes Snowden.
One issue has been whether Snowden residents have to annex into Mount Pleasant in order to connect to public sewer lines, according to The Post and Courier. The incorporated town surrounds the historic black community off Long Point Road, along the marsh at Foster Creek — one of many bodies of water in the Charleston area fouled by failing septic systems.
According to The Post and Courier, town, county and utility officials met about the annexation issue in February. That day, Elliott Summey, chairman of County Council, and Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie announced a policy change that Snowden residents would not have to join the town to get the sewer service.
“Residents may get sewer service without annexation, though Mount Pleasant welcomes all,” Haynie posted on Twitter following the Feb. 27 meeting, according to The Post and Courier.
Mount Pleasant Waterworks General Manager Clay Duffie said that there has been no change in policy.
“Simply reversing our policy to obey [the town’s] annexation requirement creates a legal dilemma,” Duffie said. “If we were to reverse our policy prematurely, it exposes us to a roughly $5 million liability from that lawsuit.”
According to The Post and Courier, Snowden residents at the meeting asked the commissioners with questions, and several expressed distrust.
“You’re not giving my community a fair shake,” said Richard Grant. “You say one thing and you do something else.”
The lawsuit cited by Duffie is one filed by a development group in 2016, according to The Post and Courier.
Long Pt Cooper Investment Group applied to annex into the town in order to get sewer connections, as Mount Pleasant’s ordinance requires. According to The Post and Courier, when Town Council refused to approve zoning for the group’s project in the Belle Hall area called The Point, the developer withdrew the annexation request, but then was denied access to public sewer lines needed for the plan.