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South Carolina Divorce 101

Divorce is a difficult decision for anyone, whether it's you or your partner who initiates it. It's a painful experience that can leave you feeling shattered and alone in the dark. When you made your wedding vows, you did so with the intention of being together for life. You invested a lot of time and money into your wedding, inviting friends and family from all over South Carolina to share in your joy.

Now, you're faced with the harsh reality that you and your former spouse are no longer together. As your family law attorney in North Charleston, SC, we understand how overwhelming this can be. We've assisted many clients through the divorce process and had the knowledge and tools to help them work through it and move on to greener pastures.

The CDH Law Firm Approach to Child Custody in South Carolina

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau states that 25% of children younger than 21 live with just one parent while the other parent resides elsewhere in the country? In such circumstances, many families must navigate the complicated and legally complex process of child custody. As seasoned family law attorneys, we have represented clients in all aspects and legal stages of child custody and support.

We focus in providing services for a range of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Drafting Reasonable Proposed Parenting Plans
  • Preparing Child Support Calculations
  • Communication with a Guardian ad Litem (if applicable)
  • Securing De Facto Custodian / Psychological Parent Rights
  • Negotiating Agreements Relating to Child Custody
  • Prosecuting Claims Related to Domestic Violence
  • Prosecuting and Defending Claims for
  • Adoption,
  • Termination of Parental Rights
  • Custody, and
  • Visitation
  • Defending Claims Alleging Abuse / Neglect by the Department of Social Services

Every family has its own distinct characteristics, and as such, child-related agreements must also be customized to fit each unique situation. In South Carolina, our team of skilled family law attorneys takes the time to understand our clients' individual goals and needs and tailor our services accordingly.

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South Carolina Alimony 101

When you get married, you go into the partnership believing that you'll be together forever. It makes sense, then, that most divorcing couples don't know very much about alimony in South Carolina (also referred to as spousal support). They ask questions such as:

  • Who gets alimony?
  • What is a reasonable amount of alimony?

Fortunately, working with a family law lawyer in North Charleston, SC, can answer those questions and make alimony easier to understand and approach.

 Family Support Attorney North Charleston, SC
Family Law Attorney North Charleston, SC

What is Alimony in South Carolina?

Many individuals often mistake alimony for child support, but they are, in fact, two distinct forms of financial obligation and not mutually exclusive. Alimony was established to safeguard a supported spouse in the event of a divorce or separation. For example, a spouse who did not work during the course of the marriage would generally have a stronger alimony claim than a spouse who worked throughout the marriage. Likewise, a spouse who worked throughout the marriage but made less than the other spouse would have a stronger alimony claim than a spouse who worked and earned equivalent income to the supporting spouse.

In many cases, a spouse may choose to stay at home to tend to the children and manage the household. Oftentimes, the spouse who remains at home has sacrificed their career or education to care for the family. In such instances, a divorce could leave the financially weaker spouse in a state of financial turmoil. Without that support system, they will have to start over from scratch. These are some factors the Court will consider in evaluating an appropriate alimony case. Throughout your marriage, you have structured your quality of life based on a budget determined by your finances. While all expenses are shared by both partners, what happens if you have been financially dependent on your spouse and need to support yourself?

At Cobb, Dill, & Hammett, LLC, we aim to assist you in securing the alimony you need to support both yourself and your children. At the same time, we want to ensure that you are not overpaying your spouse, if you are the one required to pay. You may be required to pay an amount that could leave you in a difficult financial situation. Regardless, it's crucial to have the right legal representation to guide you through the alimony process in South Carolina.

The CDH Law Firm Approach to Alimonyin South Carolina

Some people may assume financial responsibilities to a former partner are end with the filing of a divorce decree. However, if the court has mandated alimony payments, then the financial obligations survive. Failure to meet those obligations can lead to serious legal and financial consequences. Family law attorneys at CHSA Law, LLC have years of experience representing clients throughout the divorce process, including alimony determinations.

Our legal services cover many aspects of alimony law, such as:

  • Negotiating Temporary and Final Alimony Payments
  • Modifying Alimony
  • Providing Advice on Reasonable Alimony
  • Filing to Collect Unpaid Alimony

Though our family law attorneys are fearless negotiators and litigators, we always strive to keep your legal proceedings as seamless and straightforward as possible. Our goal is to help reach an agreement on alimony that is reasonable for both you and your spouse. However, compromises aren't always possible. If needed, our lawyers will fight aggressively on your behalf to help ensure your financial rights are protected.

 Law Firm North Charleston, SC

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Trust the Cobb, Dill, & Hammett Difference

Dealing with family law cases can be incredibly trying, particularly when it comes to matters of separation or divorce. As your family law attorney in North Charleston, SC, we recognize the challenges you're facing. With that in mind, know that we're committed to offering empathetic legal counsel on your behalf, no matter how contentious or confusing your situation may become. Contact our law offices today for your initial family law consultation.

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Latest News in North Charleston, SC

Thousands expected at High Water Festival, parking could be an issue

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of North Charleston has been working with High Water Music Festival organizers for months to make sure this year’s event is a great one for everyone.The festival is happening April 20-21 at Riverfront Park in North Charleston along the Cooper River.This year is expected to be bigger than ever, but officials say parking could be an issue. They say 15,000 tickets to the two-day festival have been sold, which is thousands more than last year. But because of the construction in that ar...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of North Charleston has been working with High Water Music Festival organizers for months to make sure this year’s event is a great one for everyone.

The festival is happening April 20-21 at Riverfront Park in North Charleston along the Cooper River.

This year is expected to be bigger than ever, but officials say parking could be an issue. They say 15,000 tickets to the two-day festival have been sold, which is thousands more than last year. But because of the construction in that area, there will be limited parking available — about half of that number to be exact.

“Every day we are losing parking with all the development that is happening out here,” Amy Heath, North Charleston’s Director of Tourism, says. “We have approximately about 7,500 parking spaces.”

Heath says one thing that will be different this year, to help things move a little smoother, is there will be two ride-share lots for drop-off and pickup.

“This year with High Water we are going to have two ride-share lots,” Heath says. “One is going to be down at the Water Mission side on the north side of the bridge. It will be very much labeled so people can get in and out. And then also on the north side, where McMillan was at Hobson Avenue and Bainbridge Avenue.”

Heath says her biggest suggestion is to ride-share or carpool, plan to come early and stay late, and prepare to be patient.

But even with the challenges, Heath says they’re especially excited for this year.

“Each event that we do out here is very different. It doesn’t have like an exact roadmap, but we have been working with the folks from C3 Presents all year long in preparation for this. So, we have done stuff here out on the park, like trimming trees, working on flooding issues, and also signage just to make the guest experience better.”

Normally, there are two ways into Riverfront Park, however, the Pedestrian Bridge is going to be blocked off specifically for the artists to use. The only way in and out for attendees is going to by the Momo restaurant.

This festival has a huge economic impact on the area. Heath says the 2023 High Water Music Festival contributed $45.4 million to the Charleston area economy.

The festival is responsible for 363 full-time job equivalents hired or sustained. More than $14.9 million in labor incomes were paid to Charleston area employees as a result of the High Water Music Festival.

All of these numbers are based on festival operations and festival attendee expenditures, and with 2,000 more people attending this year, Heath expects there will be a slight uptick.

For more information on this year’s High Water Festival, click here.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Debate continues over redevelopment of former Baker Hospital property in North Charleston

...NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The future of Baker Hospital Boulevard in North Charleston remains uncertain amid debate over how the property should be redeveloped.Councilmembers in North Charleston will discuss the zoning of the former Baker Hospital's property on April 18 at 5:30 p.m.Read more: ...

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — The future of Baker Hospital Boulevard in North Charleston remains uncertain amid debate over how the property should be redeveloped.

Councilmembers in North Charleston will discuss the zoning of the former Baker Hospital's property on April 18 at 5:30 p.m.

Read more: Community resistance grows against proposed boat facility at former Baker Hospital site

The over 40-acre property is owned by Charleston County Parks of Recreation and Commission, but the City of North Charleston controls the zoning. The zoning is currently for residential use.

Freddie Renken, the owner of Sea Fox Boats' plan, won a bid from the county to redevelop the property for industrial use with a boat facility and space for a park. However, some see it as detrimental for the community.

"We have to take a look at what else is around these communities," Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities Co-Executive Director Rodley Millett. "Bringing in another heavy industrial operation is not the answer to that. Look at the communities in this area and things are done to them. Including them in the discussions and identify what their needs are, what their likes are, and what they've tolerated that for a while."

Metanoia CEO Billy Stanfield said, "Folks are dealing with industrial uses and the problematic things they bring to the neighborhood, such as pollution and traffic. To see yet another one and be told this is the only way you can get a park when they see other communities getting parks without those of uses feels unfair."

Others feel many in the community are missing the bigger picture. They note Renken is promising 300 jobs with his boat facility and the project would be self-funded without money from taxpayers.

"We talk about funds, funding, city budgets, county budgets and how we are seeing so many tax increases because of certain projects," North Charleston resident Johnathan Thrower said. "It's great to see someone come in and be able to take a project or land that's not being used and build it into something that the community would be able to use."

"The city of North Charleston doesn't even have the funding available to even develop the land, clean it up, or anything else," he continued. "They're giving us an incomplete vision and it's not even their land, where somebody else is saying he has the funding available and he's ready."

Boeing says no 787 safety risk after whistleblower raises troubling claims

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — At its 787 Dreamliner manufacturing complex on Monday, Boeing responded to damaging new whistleblower allegations by detailing the results of testing it has done since small gaps between fuselage pieces on the jets were discovered four years ago.Boeing has made meticulous, time-consuming changes to the way it manufactures the 787’s carbon composite airframe to eliminate the gaps. It must do so to meet the specification.More important, Boeing insists that extensive testing overseen by the Fed...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — At its 787 Dreamliner manufacturing complex on Monday, Boeing responded to damaging new whistleblower allegations by detailing the results of testing it has done since small gaps between fuselage pieces on the jets were discovered four years ago.

Boeing has made meticulous, time-consuming changes to the way it manufactures the 787’s carbon composite airframe to eliminate the gaps. It must do so to meet the specification.

More important, Boeing insists that extensive testing overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and inspections of the current 787 fleet show definitively that the gaps, which exist in nearly 1,000 Dreamliners flying today, pose zero safety risk.

“We haven’t identified any safety issues,” said Steve Chisholm, chief engineer for Boeing Mechanical and Structural Engineering. “We have not seen anything in service related to [the gaps] that would indicate that there is an issue with the in-service fleet.”

In a news briefing and tour of the 787 fabrication and final assembly facility in North Charleston, S.C., Boeing scrambled to respond to the allegations by Sam Salehpour — an Everett engineer who worked on the 787 and 777 programs, now a public whistleblower — that it has not eliminated the gaps and that they pose a risk of “catastrophic failure.”

Salehpour’s allegations come as Boeing continues to face fallout from a Jan. 5 midair blowout that saw a panel pop out of a 737 MAX 9. That incident prompted ongoing inquiries into the 737 program and raised fresh questions about Boeing’s broader safety culture.

In response to Salehpour’s claims, Boeing described its testing and manufacturing changes to journalists during a visit to its North Charleston facility.

Engineers smashed 300-pound spheres swinging on a pendulum into a fuselage section to deliberately damage it, causing one of the stiffening rods to break. They then applied loads 15% greater than those typical in flight and repeated the load tests 40,000 times. Boeing found “there was no growth in the damage,” Chisholm said.

He contrasted this with what happens on a metal airframe, such as the 737 or the 747. If a crack develops in the thin metal skin, it can propagate and tear through the structure as if it were unzipping.

While metal fatigue might result in such cracks, Chisholm said fatigue damage to a composite material would take the form of delamination, when the plies of carbon fiber separate.

But no delamination was observed. The localized damage Boeing deliberately inflicted did not spread.

The engineers also cut through a pressurized fuselage with a guillotine blade, slicing a 4-foot section and severing one of the circumferential frames.

The fuselage didn’t even lose pressure, and testing showed the tear did not propagate. The fuselage was able to maintain its structural integrity well above the loads expected in normal operation.

Boeing said the gaps were present in the first Dreamliners ever built, including the ground-test airplane that over five years starting in 2010 was cycled through the loads and pressurization of 165,000 simulated flights — 3½ lifetimes — without showing any structural damage.

Salehpour, the whistleblower, claimed last week that Boeing’s own data from detailed inspections of 26 airplanes showed nearly 99% had gaps larger than the specification of 5 thousandths of an inch, about the thickness of two sheets of paper, and the small filler pieces of glass fiber material used to fill such gaps — known as shims — were not inserted.

At two of the main circumferential joins on those 26 airplanes, “98.7% of the time, the gaps exceeding 5 thou are not shimmed,” Salehpour said at a virtual news conference last week with his lawyers. “Nearly 8,000 gaps exceeding 5 thou were not shimmed.”

Chisholm said the result was “exactly opposite.”

He said Boeing removed every fastener on each of the five circumferential joins on all of those airplanes, about 2,000 fasteners for each join, and measured the gap at each hole — a so-called through-hole inspection.

“Close to 99% were fully conforming and met the 0.005 inch requirement,” Chisholm said.

Boeing also addressed a second claim by Salehpour: that Boeing’s use of a technique to join the airplane sections called “One Up Assembly” left drilling debris in the gaps.

Historically, Boeing would mate two sections together and drill holes, then separate them to clean the holes and smooth out any metal edges on the holes, and only then put the sections back together and insert fasteners.

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One Up Assembly, used for some 787 joins, means drilling and fastening the sections together precisely in a single pass, without separating them to clean the drilled holes.

Salehpour said drilling debris was found “80% of the time” on those 26 airplanes Boeing studied in detail.

But Chisholm said the technique is used only when it can be demonstrated that it doesn’t cause debris in the gaps. Furthermore, he said Boeing did tests deliberately inserting both composite and metal drilling debris into the gaps at the interface to assess the impact.

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Those tests “show that it’s not detrimental,” Chisholm said.

On a tour of the building where the two aft fuselage sections are fabricated and joined, Lisa Fahl, Boeing’s vice president of airplane programs engineering, described the steps Boeing has taken to eliminate any gaps above the 5 thousandths of an inch specification, adding considerable work and delay to the assembly process.

New laser measuring devices are used to detect surface unevenness at the edges of the fuselage sections where they are joined, which can result in gaps.

And since 2020, as part of what it calls the “Join Verification Process,” Boeing has inserted a time-consuming extra step at certain difficult joins.

In the normal process, after pulling the sections together, temporary fasteners are inserted and the gaps are measured. After any necessary shims are inserted, permanent fasteners are then tightened.

Since 2020, there’s now an extra step for certain joins with complex contours such as the join of the two aft body sections: a “through-hole” inspection. Each of the 2,000 fasteners at each join is removed by hand and a small tool is inserted to measure the gap. When it is within specification, a new permanent fastener is inserted.

All the 787s previously built and still parked now have to go through this process before they can be cleared for delivery.

A Boeing engineer on the tour said the hope is that as control of the gaps is tightened in the build process for new 787s, this extra check can eventually be dropped.

Chisholm said Boeing is heartened by the data from the 787s in service.

He said 671 have completed their heavy maintenance check required after flying for six years. Another eight have completed their 12-year check.

Boeing sent teams of engineers to take a close look at 10 of those maintenance inspections.

“Through all of this, there’s been zero airframe fatigue findings on the 787 fleet,” Chisholm said.

Boeing said it is up to the FAA, once it has all the data from Boeing’s tests and from the in-service fleet, to decide if anything needs to be done about the fuselage gaps on the 787s flying today.

“It’s a long, very deliberate process,” Chisholm said. “We do expect to complete it this year.”

In addition to discussing the 787 in detail, Boeing also responded to Salehpour’s critique of a new 777 build process that was introduced in 2015.

Salehpour said the 777’s metal fuselage panels that are fastened together into fuselage sections in Everett don’t come together easily and that machinists sometimes jump on the panels to force them into position.

“That’s not part of our process,” said Boeing’s Fahl.

And Chisholm said: “I would expect any employees who are seeing other employees jumping up and down on panels to let us know.”

He added that 27 airplanes built in the new process have completed their eight-year heavy maintenance checks with no issues found.

On Wednesday, Salehpour is due to speak at a U.S. Senate hearing.

After the Boeing briefings finished, his lawyer, Debra Katz, issued a statement saying that Salehpour had tried for years inside Boeing to see data that would allay his concerns but was rebuffed and managers retaliated against him for raising the issue.

“Boeing has always said ‘just trust us,’ when it comes to safety,” Katz wrote. “It’s clear that standard is no longer sufficient, and any data provided by Boeing should be validated by independent experts and the FAA before it is taken at face value.”

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com; Dominic Gates is a Pulitzer Prize-winning aerospace journalist for The Seattle Times.

15 Essential Coffee Shops in Charleston

Can't start the morning/afternoon/life without a large cup of caffeine? Try one of these local coffee purveyors for a fix. Whether it's free wifi or a cozy atmosphere, there's a place for each need. Read MoreEater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.A s...

Can't start the morning/afternoon/life without a large cup of caffeine? Try one of these local coffee purveyors for a fix. Whether it's free wifi or a cozy atmosphere, there's a place for each need.

Read More

Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

A savior for the citizens of Park Circle, The Orange Spot Coffeehouse supplies caffeine to North Charleston. The setting recently expanded with a new address but maintains the same cozy atmosphere. Try the cha yen, a traditional Thai iced tea.

Not only does Owlbear make an excellent cold brew or a iced caramel macchiato (if you’re into that), but this cafe puts out filling bagel sandwiches, waffles, and fancy grilled cheeses.

The Harbinger is a whimsical space full of plants, Instagram-worthy shelves full of treasures, and cozy seating. The coffee drinks are creative, like the maple latte or the Jack Rudy espresso tonic, but do not miss the baked goods — customers are instantly hooked on creations like a take on Rice Krispy Treats with puffed brown rice, tahini, and chocolate. Check out the sister cafe Harken when visiting the heart of downtown.

In addition to expertly prepared espresso drinks, Mercantile offers free wifi, plentiful seating, and a full breakfast and lunch menu — what’s not to love. Oh, and parking. Sold.

The Daily is the place to go for a morning coffee, breakfast sandwich, or an afternoon lunch. Try the golden latte with turmeric-agave syrup and the spring-ish vegetable hash.

Sightsee is a fun, hip shop with a side of coffee bar. Tucked back on Line Street, the space offers coffee to go for those exploring the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood. Try the unique iced cascara tea, which is brewed from the coffee cherry.

Vintage Coffee Cafe offers caffeine, eats, and wifi to the Mount Pleasant set. The kitchen puts out sophisticated breakfast items, like seasonal quiches, oven-roasted tomato tarts, acai bowls, and lox plates, among others.

The pick-up window at Brown Fox Coffee makes it a quick and easy stop to grab a morning latte or a cold brew on the way to the beach on Sullivan’s Island.

Kudu not only has a handsome outdoor patio, but an extensive coffee and craft beer program as well. It doesn't offer wifi, so this shop is for relaxation, not work.

Highfalutin Coffee Roasters really cares about its beans. Roasted in-house, the coffee at this Avondale shop is routinely touted as some of the best by local aficionados — don’t ask for a pumpkin spice latte here.

Petite shop the Rise attracts those in search of a perfect cortado or a honey lavender latte. The space is small, so most customers get their coffee to-go.

Since its located on the Market in the Emeline hotel, Clerks Coffee Company is always buzzing with visitors, but this shouldn’t deter locals. The seating area at Clerks makes for a handsome background to sip a latte and get some work done. After the laptops close, the coffee bar offers beer and wine in addition to slices of Detroit-style pizza and salads.

Sunlight-filled caffeine emporium Second State Coffee (formerly Black Tap Coffee) is the spot to get creative lattes (try the brown sugar or lavender) and kick-ass pour-over brew. It is also the meeting spot for creatives and neighborhood friends to chat about the day or upcoming projects. Check out the Second State in Mount Pleasant for a full menu of hearty breakfast and lunch options.

Entrepreneur Amy Wright has four children, and two, Bitty & Beau, were born with Down syndrome. Wright saw an opportunity to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable in finding steady jobs. Her coffee shops Betty & Beau are staffed with a very enthusiastic crew that live with issues like autism and cerebral palsy. Stop in for a cup of joy in the morning.

Muddy Waters is an old-school coffee shop on James Island. Around since 2001, it’s a reliable spot for a latte, a macaron, and a quiet place to sit and read a book.

A savior for the citizens of Park Circle, The Orange Spot Coffeehouse supplies caffeine to North Charleston. The setting recently expanded with a new address but maintains the same cozy atmosphere. Try the cha yen, a traditional Thai iced tea.

Not only does Owlbear make an excellent cold brew or a iced caramel macchiato (if you’re into that), but this cafe puts out filling bagel sandwiches, waffles, and fancy grilled cheeses.

The Harbinger is a whimsical space full of plants, Instagram-worthy shelves full of treasures, and cozy seating. The coffee drinks are creative, like the maple latte or the Jack Rudy espresso tonic, but do not miss the baked goods — customers are instantly hooked on creations like a take on Rice Krispy Treats with puffed brown rice, tahini, and chocolate. Check out the sister cafe Harken when visiting the heart of downtown.

In addition to expertly prepared espresso drinks, Mercantile offers free wifi, plentiful seating, and a full breakfast and lunch menu — what’s not to love. Oh, and parking. Sold.

The Daily is the place to go for a morning coffee, breakfast sandwich, or an afternoon lunch. Try the golden latte with turmeric-agave syrup and the spring-ish vegetable hash.

Sightsee is a fun, hip shop with a side of coffee bar. Tucked back on Line Street, the space offers coffee to go for those exploring the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood. Try the unique iced cascara tea, which is brewed from the coffee cherry.

Vintage Coffee Cafe offers caffeine, eats, and wifi to the Mount Pleasant set. The kitchen puts out sophisticated breakfast items, like seasonal quiches, oven-roasted tomato tarts, acai bowls, and lox plates, among others.

The pick-up window at Brown Fox Coffee makes it a quick and easy stop to grab a morning latte or a cold brew on the way to the beach on Sullivan’s Island.

Kudu not only has a handsome outdoor patio, but an extensive coffee and craft beer program as well. It doesn't offer wifi, so this shop is for relaxation, not work.

Highfalutin Coffee Roasters really cares about its beans. Roasted in-house, the coffee at this Avondale shop is routinely touted as some of the best by local aficionados — don’t ask for a pumpkin spice latte here.

Petite shop the Rise attracts those in search of a perfect cortado or a honey lavender latte. The space is small, so most customers get their coffee to-go.

Since its located on the Market in the Emeline hotel, Clerks Coffee Company is always buzzing with visitors, but this shouldn’t deter locals. The seating area at Clerks makes for a handsome background to sip a latte and get some work done. After the laptops close, the coffee bar offers beer and wine in addition to slices of Detroit-style pizza and salads.

Sunlight-filled caffeine emporium Second State Coffee (formerly Black Tap Coffee) is the spot to get creative lattes (try the brown sugar or lavender) and kick-ass pour-over brew. It is also the meeting spot for creatives and neighborhood friends to chat about the day or upcoming projects. Check out the Second State in Mount Pleasant for a full menu of hearty breakfast and lunch options.

Entrepreneur Amy Wright has four children, and two, Bitty & Beau, were born with Down syndrome. Wright saw an opportunity to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable in finding steady jobs. Her coffee shops Betty & Beau are staffed with a very enthusiastic crew that live with issues like autism and cerebral palsy. Stop in for a cup of joy in the morning.

Muddy Waters is an old-school coffee shop on James Island. Around since 2001, it’s a reliable spot for a latte, a macaron, and a quiet place to sit and read a book.

N. Charleston argues plans for former Baker Hospital site, fate in council hands

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The future of land in North Charleston lies in the hands of city council members, and it’s a breath of relief for concerned community members and a strain for the company urging its industrial use.The city council will be the next step forward for the proposed plan after a request to rezone two parts of the former Baker Hospital property on the Ashley River. They will vote on whether the land will be rezoned from R-1 residential to M-2, heavy industrial and M-1, light industrial.The city&rs...

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The future of land in North Charleston lies in the hands of city council members, and it’s a breath of relief for concerned community members and a strain for the company urging its industrial use.

The city council will be the next step forward for the proposed plan after a request to rezone two parts of the former Baker Hospital property on the Ashley River. They will vote on whether the land will be rezoned from R-1 residential to M-2, heavy industrial and M-1, light industrial.

The city’s Planning Commission on Monday voted 5-1 to deny the recommendation to rezone before passing it onto council - saying it didn’t align with the best interest of the city’s comprehensive plan, the location to the Ashley River and the public interest of surrounding neighborhoods.

The land, defined as a brownfield, is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

“We don’t need industry in our living rooms. We don’t need to breathe the fluid of industry in our neighborhoods. We don’t need to be impacted negatively that way,” Union Heights resident Skip Mikell says.

The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and Sea Fox Boats have a 90-year lease with the goal of building a manufacturing plant on 11 acres of the 46-acre property. Sea Fox Boats owner Freddy Renken says they plan to bring 200 or more jobs to the area and will fund the construction of a waterfront public park.

The commission says rent paid by Sea Fox Boats and its dry stack marina would offset operations and maintenance for the park. Nothing has been finalized or started because this is in a due diligence phase.

The park itself would have the following amenities:

Renken did not speak at the meeting but a company lawyer shared insight on his behalf:

“What is there not to want about this? To turn a brownfield into a park that provides jobs and an economic engine. With Sea Fox Boats, the City of North Charleston will be able to build planes, cars, boats. I think that is pretty cool,” Ronald Richter says.

Despite the push for approval, a resounding “no” was heard from a crowd of North Charleston homeowners and supporters. They say the company never shared its plans with surrounding neighborhoods and businesses, including Union Heights, Chicora-Cherokee and Accabee.

Mayor Reggie Burgess also pushed for a full recreational park option to be considered following the initial plan release.

Charleston County Parks states in this press release they planned on releasing public input meeting dates in early 2024. As of now, no updates have been provided.

The commission released the following statement:

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) recently entered into a public-private partnership with the locally-owned Sea Fox Boat Company at its Ashley River site. The company is in a two-year due diligence phase, which includes addressing zoning and permitting issues.

Per the partnership, Charleston County Parks would continue to own the entire property, with tenant Sea Fox funding the creation and maintenance of the future public park. This would allow Charleston County Parks to develop and operate the park without taxpayer funds. Because of the site’s history as the former Baker Hospital and as a phosphate processing plant, it has created a brownfield that will require costly environmental efforts to make it suitable for recreational use.

The future county park would offer residents green space and views of the Ashley River. Other possible amenities at the park include a fishing/crabbing dock, trails, playground, splash pad, shelter for camps or programs, and unique event space. Public input meetings will be held to learn what the communities would like to see on the site. Once the zoning process has been completed, we will determine the timeline for the public input meetings.

Seventeen people spoke in opposition to the plan. Neighbors say adding the plant would not benefit their community in terms of work or play and are asking for the area to be solely a park.

“The neighborhoods we represent have some of the lowest unemployment rates in North Charleston. Chicora-Cherokee specifically has a 2.9 unemployment rate, which means our people are already working,” KJ Kearney says.

The planning commission stated in the agenda item they recommended denial because they believe the property’s location to the Ashley River makes the plant unfeasible and there is a “lack of support” to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Sea Fox Boats argues the area they are requesting rezoning for is on a brownfield, the former site of a phosphate processing plant and hospital, which would need environmental maintenance to make the area suitable for recreational purposes or greenspace.

North Charleston natives say they remember the smells, the sights and the feelings of growing up near the former plant and the concerns it raised for health and wellness.

“Those people don’t live here. So whatever damage they do, they leave at the end of the shift and go home. We live here and if there’s anything that we can do to prevent that kind of thing reoccurring. We’re going to do so,” Mikell says.

The site was donated to Charleston County Parks in 2015 by Charleston residents Michael and Jenny Messner of the Speedwell Foundation. The organization did not respond to a request for comment.

“The owner of that property is the Charleston County Parks and Recreation. Their purpose for being is to create parks, preserve and protect greenspaces,” Richter says. “We are not looking for the high bidder here, we are looking for the perfect partner to clean this place and make it a place of pride.”

The discussion will now go before city council starting on April 11 for its first reading. The next opportunity for public input will be on April 18.

For more information on the project, click here.

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