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Latest News in Gadsden, SC

Protestors renew calls for restoration of Gadsden Creek

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The fight to save what remains of Gadsden Creek continues.Local advocacy groups have appealed a judge’s decision to allow developer WestEdge Foundation to fill and cap the nearly four-acre tidal creek.Read More: Gadsden Creek and SCLEP file an appeal against court's decision to side with WestEdgeM...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The fight to save what remains of Gadsden Creek continues.

Local advocacy groups have appealed a judge’s decision to allow developer WestEdge Foundation to fill and cap the nearly four-acre tidal creek.

Read More: Gadsden Creek and SCLEP file an appeal against court's decision to side with WestEdge

Members of "Friends of Gadsden Creek" and "Charleston Area Justice Ministry" protested Friday morning just blocks from Southeast Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) festivities. They invited expo attendees to join them in their calls for the City of Charleston to restore and revitalize the creek.

“When we talk about conservation and protecting wildlife, we must talk about Gadsden Creek,” said Lin Kuhl Joy, a member of both FOGC and CAJM. “The city continues dumping its sins, telling half-truths and lies about contamination, lack of funding, and the true impact of this development.”

In December, a judge ruled in favor of WestEdge, citing the "unique hurdle of a naturalized drainage ditch for a landfill that is now being contaminated by that landfill."

Local advocacy groups call on City of Charleston to restore and revitalize Gadsden Creek. (WCIV)

Protestors said measures to prevent flooding were never taken by the city.

“The city could have easily answered the problem of tide water flooding long before now with simple solutions that they are already using in other parts of the city with higher income bracket,” said CAJM Flooding Steering Committee Member, Michelle Brandt.

The City of Charleston provided ABC News 4 with an Army Corps of Engineers permit from 2009, stating the Corps would not authorize proposed mitigation activities in this area because "the potential negative impacts associated with excavating a portion of a former landfill and restoring tidal flow to this area far outweighs the potential environmental benefits."

Read More: 'Fight is far from over': Friends of Gadsden Creek respond to DHEC ruling

Members of the Westside community agree action needs to be taken against flooding, but said they refuse to ignore deeper issues of gentrification.

“We know that whatever is developed in the future in the next few years, if the city moves forward, will lead to the displacement of scores and scores of black families,” said FOGC Co-Chair and Charleston Mayoral Candidate Mika Gadsden. “We’re asking the city to do right and save the Gadsden Creek."

WestEdge said the short-term goal for the area is to provide flooding relief and protection from pollution and contamination, adding this appeal will only delay relief and force residents to suffer.

'This area deserves a fair fight': Friends of Gadsden Creek plan to appeal court decision

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Friends of Gadsden Creek, a community organization, says the fight is not over.Last week, a court ruled against them, giving WestEdge Foundation the go-ahead to fill and cap the creek.RELATED: ...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Friends of Gadsden Creek, a community organization, says the fight is not over.

Last week, a court ruled against them, giving WestEdge Foundation the go-ahead to fill and cap the creek.

RELATED: 'Fight is far from over': Friends of Gadsden Creek respond to DHEC ruling

The foundation says the creek needs to be filled because of flooding and contamination.

Mika Gadsden, the co-chair for Friends of Gadsden Creek, said the area holds a lot of black Gullah history.

"This area deserves a fair fight," said Mika Gadsden. "The Friends of Gadsden Creek thought it was important to stand up – not necessarily on behalf of the communities on the Westside, but stand in solidarity with these communities both current and historically."

'This area deserves a fair fight': Friends of Gadsden Creek plan to appeal court decision (WCIV)

Friends of Gadsden Creek is working to appeal the court's decision with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project.

"We believe the creek can be revitalized and that we can enhance the natural features that exist and make it so that it can help mitigate flooding," said Gadsden. "It's investing in green infrastructure like animals and plant life versus gray infrastructures like cement, buildings, and condos."

RELATED: Charleston residents plead for resolution amid flooding concerns

Gadsden said with the climate crisis looming, this is a chance for prioritizing natural spaces, and the environment.

"We have a plan, a vision that is inclusive that turns the creek into a classroom and creates another natural resource for everyone to enjoy – tourists and residents alike," Gadsden said. "Why can't we have something similar to Brittlebank Park on this side of Lockwood?"

We reached out to the WestEdge Foundation for a response. Michael Maher, the CEO, provided the statement below:

"We all agree that the creek system should have never been turned into a landfill in the 1950s and that wetlands in almost all cases should be protected. But this is a very rare instance where keeping tidal waters running through a buried landfill means indefinitely subjecting residents to harmful pollutants and disastrous flooding. For so many reasons cited by Judge Anderson in his ruling, Friends of Gadsden Creek and SCELP should accept that they failed to prove that there are other viable options here and stop trying to prevent the one achievable solution from moving forward. The unfortunate truth is, it is today’s residents who will suffer most if SCELP and FOGC keep up their misguided fight.”

Court upholds WestEdge permit to fill and cap Gadsden Creek in Downtown Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The court has upheld a permit issued to the WestEdge Foundation allowing it to proceed with filling and capping Gadsden Creek, a 3.9-acre tidal creek on the Charleston peninsula.The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control initially granted a permit to the WestEdge Foundation in 2021.Read more: Lawsuit...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The court has upheld a permit issued to the WestEdge Foundation allowing it to proceed with filling and capping Gadsden Creek, a 3.9-acre tidal creek on the Charleston peninsula.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control initially granted a permit to the WestEdge Foundation in 2021.

Read more: Lawsuit launched to prevent filling of tidal Gadsden Creek as part of WestEdge development

According to WestEdge, the 100-acre salt marsh was severely damaged in the 1950s when the City of Charleston began using the area as a landfill.

The landfill was capped in 1970 with soil, and a manmade drainage feature was created to provide stormwater relief.

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WestEdge says that today, Gadsden Creek tides have eroded the landfill cap, exposing trash and debris.

Tidal flooding has also been a consistent problem in areas around Gadsden Creek.

"The only way to stop tidal flooding is to stop the tide from coming in," said Michael Maher, the CEO of the Westedge Foundation in 2021. "Saving the creek means keeping this situation forever."

In 2021, a local group called 'Friends of Gadsen Creek,' filed a lawsuit against the permit, demanding the protection of the tidal creek.

Friends of Gadsden Creek also created a storyline of the creek's origins and what the nonprofit believes the government is attempting to do with the wetland.

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In a ruling on the permit debate issued on Monday, December 5, a judge outlined his decision which weighed the need for conservation versus the potential environmental and health impacts from the former landfill.

"This was a challenging case, and the Court does not lightly approve of the elimination of critical area tidelands that are so integral to the health, welfare, and vibrancy of our natural ecosystem here in South Carolina. However, this case presents a unique hurdle of a naturalized drainage ditch for a landfill that is now being contaminated by that landfill. Based upon the above, I conclude FOGC failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the Department erred in granting WestEdge the Permit," Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III said.

The WestEdge Foundation says the short term goal for the area is to provide flooding relief and protection from pollution and contamination.

The next step will involved the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency will have to review permit applications for stormwater and tidal control infrastructure.

Ultimately, the Foundation hopes to develop a mixed-use development including housing and businesses. Leaders say that's not likely to be completed until at least 2026.

Click here to view a full breakdown of the WestEdge plan.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project represented Friends of Gadsden Creek in its fight to prevent approval of the permit.

ABC News 4 reached out to both SCELP and Friends of Gadsden Creek for comment on the judge's decision and has not yet heard back.

Editorial: Time to acknowledge sad reality that Gadsden Creek is gone and not coming back

The city of Charleston made a tragic environmental blunder more than a half-century ago when it converted Gadsden Creek and its surrounding marsh into a municipal dump along the Ashley River, a landfill created long before modern permitting standards and one that left a small finger of tidal flow running through it between the Ashley River and the Gadsden Green public housing complex.While we can all wish that never happened, our only productive path forward is to make the most sensible decision for dealing with the reality that it di...

The city of Charleston made a tragic environmental blunder more than a half-century ago when it converted Gadsden Creek and its surrounding marsh into a municipal dump along the Ashley River, a landfill created long before modern permitting standards and one that left a small finger of tidal flow running through it between the Ashley River and the Gadsden Green public housing complex.

While we can all wish that never happened, our only productive path forward is to make the most sensible decision for dealing with the reality that it did. And we believe the most sensible path is creating a new drainage system that would stop the landfill seepage, reduce the contamination washing toward the city’s West Side neighborhood and, yes, allow a new phase of the WestEdge development to proceed.

That’s why we would urge the Friends of Gadsden Creek not to appeal a recent S.C. Administrative Law Court ruling that upheld the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s permit for the drainage work. We agree with Judge Ralph Anderson III’s reasoning, as stated in his opinion: “In a perfect world, preserving and restoring the creek would clearly be the desired outcome. The creek is a valuable resource. But this is a very unique situation, and the creek is tainted by a landfill that must be dealt with. ... The modern iteration of Gadsden Creek unfortunately represents a blighted fragment of the pristine resource it once was.”

We initially had hoped Gadsden Creek could be somehow saved and restored. We had hoped to find a middle way between saving the creek and filling it in and upgrading the area’s drainage system. In other words, we had hoped Gadsden Creek could become an amenity rather than just a nuisance.

But in recent years, we also have come to appreciate the fact that the city must address not only the flooding in the area but also the added contamination such floodwaters often carry because of how water interacts with the buried waste. What’s left of the creek reaches Hagood and Fishburne streets, a low-lying area that often floods during a high tide.

The proposed project would add buildable acreage to the WestEdge property, which in turn would generate income for the WestEdge Foundation — a nonprofit venture created by the city and the Medical University of South Carolina — and additional tax revenues for the city. The development and its subsequent tax revenues will help finance a $15 million infrastructure project that would address three major environmental concerns: saltwater intrusion and nuisance flooding, stormwater flooding and landfill contamination. The Post and Courier’s Adam Parker reported that the project also would include a park and pedestrian access to the Ashley River, plus a $3 million mitigation project to restore wetlands upriver.

It’s important to note that no one has put forward a credible plan to recreate the natural environment that once was Gadsden Creek. That’s because it would be prohibitively expensive, possibly involving wholesale removal of a built part of the city. Some environmentalists have looked at the Gadsden Creek situation and determined that the high cost of saving it simply was not a wise investment, particularly given all the other demands the city faces in managing water. Obviously, others have disagreed, hence the legal challenge to the permit.

But continuing the legal fight would put at risk progress on any meaningful solution. Charleston Chief Resiliency Officer Dale Morris, who helped lead the city’s Dutch Dialogues effort to envision how the city can best live with rising seas and heavier rains, typically would caution against filling wetlands. But what he has learned about Gadsden Creek has led him to conclude WestEdge’s proposal is a good path because it would stop tidal flooding and divert most stormwater into two big drainage tunnels powered by pumping stations: One would empty into the marsh behind Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium, and the other would join the new Spring-Fishburne Deep Tunnel and empty into the Ashley River. The work also would cap the landfill, minimizing the spread of its contaminants. “We don’t have a natural wetland or tidal creek,” he told Mr. Parker. “It’s a manufactured channel that abuts and crosses a landfill.”

The court’s ruling notes that almost half of peninsular Charleston’s land mass has been drained or filled to create habitable land and Gadsden Creek is a part of that story. It’s a story we all should learn from and avoid repeating as we continue to build our city in modern times. But there’s a big difference between disturbing new wetlands and dealing with those largely lost.

As much as we all might want Gadsden Creek to be a cucumber, the reality is we have a pickle. And we have to make the best of it.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

Judge rules in favor of WestEdge to fill, cap Gadsden Creek on peninsula

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge has ruled in favor of the nonprofit WestEdge Foundation to fill and cap Gadsden Creek, consisting of around four acres of land on the Charleston peninsula.Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III rendered his ruling on Monday in favor of the nonprofit, which was created by the City of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.“This was a challenging case, and the Court does not lightly approve of the elimination of critical area tidelands that are so integral t...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge has ruled in favor of the nonprofit WestEdge Foundation to fill and cap Gadsden Creek, consisting of around four acres of land on the Charleston peninsula.

Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III rendered his ruling on Monday in favor of the nonprofit, which was created by the City of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.

“This was a challenging case, and the Court does not lightly approve of the elimination of critical area tidelands that are so integral to the health, welfare, and vibrancy of our natural ecosystem here in South Carolina,” Anderson wrote in his final conclusion. “However, this case presents a unique hurdle of a naturalized drainage ditch for a landfill that is now being contaminated by that landfill.”

Gadsden Creek was originally a 100-acre salt marsh found on the peninsula. In the 1950s, the City of Charleston began filling in the creek with trash before it obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cap the creek in the 1970s.

The judge’s order also states water from the creek has tested positive for high levels of pollution, such as lead and arsenic.

In July 2021, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control authorized WestEdge with a permit to fill in and cap the remaining 3.9 acres of the creek.

The creek runs from the Ashley River, alongside WestEdge’s property on Lockwood Drive before ending at the corner of Hagood Avenue and Fishburne Street.

According to the judge’s order, WestEdge plans to create three drainage pipes to move the water out of the area once the creek and landfill is capped. The nonprofit also plans to buy mitigation credits for 20 to 25 acres of wetlands along King’s Grant on the Ashley River to offset the creek’s elimination.

Friends of Gadsden Creek, being represented by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, filed suit against the non-profit in October 2021, and the case was heard over several days in June 2022.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project released a statement Tuesday afternoon:

Certainly, we are disappointed that the permit was affirmed by the ALC and respectfully disagree with many of the Court’s conclusions and analyses. We are glad the Court noted that “FOGC has some valid concerns” regarding this proposed project and that the Court rejected the rationale DHEC employed to approve the permit in the first place. I anticipate Friends of Gadsden Creek will have additional comments on this decision in the near future.

Friends of Gadsden Creek has not yet responded to requests for comment on the judge’s ruling.

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