Developers sue Mt Pleasant over hotel plans in Old Village

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The developers of a 25-room boutique hotel planned for the Old Village are suing the Town of Mount Pleasant.

They say the Planning Commission denied their request for a one-year extension to break ground on the project, and say vested rights law allow them to have more time.

That’s why they are appealing the decision.

Their attorney says vested rights prevent local governments from applying new development rules to a project particularly after it’s received approval. People who live in the area have concerns about the parking if the hotel is built at the corner of Hibben and Whilden streets.

“An inn is a feasible product to put here but it has to match with the safety of the Old Village and that’s everyone’s primary concern,” said Steven Nuenighoff who lives in the Old Village. “The building goes right up to the edge of the property line and right up against the street so the visibility for traffic is impaired.”

He along with neighbors are concerned about the parking situation if the hotel is built.

"I'll point out a Sunday, people are parked eight blocks away at times just because of two things," he said. "You have the churches and then you also have all the activity on Shem Creek."

Graham Holdings and Earl's Court LLC are the developers behind the lawsuit with the town.

They say their parking plans have already been approved as sufficient by the town although people who live nearby don’t agree. As part of their plan they have 26 parking spaces, some of that includes street parking.

Some neighbors have filed an appeal with the board of zoning appeals to reconsider. Those residents feel it will take away parking for them to use along with their guests. Some people living in the Old Village don't have driveways.

"You're always going to have building and development, the question is in what taste and taking safety into concern," Nuenighoff said.

The attorney for the developers, Ross Appel, says a few weeks ago the town's Board of Zoning Appeals voted in favor of allowing the permitting process to begin.

This happened despite pending litigation with the town over the construction deadline.

"The BZA’s decision means the building permits for Earl’s Court must be reviewed by town staff without further delay," Appel said. "While it is unclear what the town plans to do next, we will vigorously defend our property rights should the town take the rare step of appealing its own board’s unanimous and well-considered decision.”

The owner of Graham's Holdings, Vince Graham, says they plan to have valet parking. He says the hotel will be similar to the Old Village Post House Inn that is less than a mile away from the site of his proposed hotel.

"I'd like to see whatever gets done, gets done efficiently and fairly and that there isn't an overreach for the developer to go beyond what is allowable," Nuenighoff said.

The Town of Mount Pleasant did not respond to a request for a comment regarding the lawsuit and future plans.

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