The legal battle between Save Shem Creek and the Town of Mt. Pleasant has come to an end for the time being. Both parties have agreed to drop lawsuits related to a dispute over the zoning of a controversial parking garage/office space near Shem Creek.
Following a vote by Mt. Pleasant Town Council to drop their countersuit, Save Shem Creek released a statement, saying, “At this point in time, it doesn’t make sense to continue a lawsuit that won’t get adjudicated until after the construction of the garage is completed. Therefore, Save Shem Creek and the town have decided to mutually drop the claims against each other.”
The organization says that the legal settlement has nothing to do with the merits of the case, and they still believe that the proposed development violates that town’s zoning laws and is out of character with the surrounding area.
Save Shem Creek’s original lawsuit stemmed from a decision that was made by the town’s zoning administrator that allowed for construction of the parking garage near Shem Creek. The organization appealed the town’s ruling, but that complaint was rejected.
According to court documents from last December, the town’s legal representative, Julie Copeland, argued that Save Shem Creek’s appeal was shot down for “lack of standing” and the claim being filed beyond the statute of limitations period. Following this decision, Save Shem Creek decided to take their case to court, claiming that town officials had not followed the proper regulations, zoning ordinances, and statutes that apply to the garage that is currently under development. The group’s attorney stated that the project encroached into a zoning district that prohibits any development unrelated to marine activities and that many residents felt the project was not in keeping with the character of the area. The town then filed a countersuit, alleging an abuse of process on the part of Save Shem Creek.
In December, Copeland told a judge, “This was in the middle of an election period, and Save Shem Creek Corporation was actually created and designed to stop a particular piece of property from being developed and that was the subject of the election season, and it was just yet another attempt to stop construction of the building.”
With both lawsuits dropped, Save Shem Creek representatives say that they still feel the garage is in violation of zoning laws and hope to at least discuss the issue further with town officials and the developer to determine if any modifications can be made to the project to better fit its location.