Charleston city councilman wants to stop fill-and-build development

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston city officials could put an end to fill-and-build development in the city.

That’s when a developer goes to low-lying areas and uses sandy dirt to fill in the land to meet flood elevation requirements.

Charleston City Councilman Harry Griffin is putting the issue up for discussion during Tuesday's city council meeting. He says this type of development is happening all around the city and it is contributing to the flooding issues in the Lowcountry.

"What we're doing is filling in wetlands and when we're doing that we are displacing the water," Griffin said. "It doesn't just go away, it goes on somebody else's property and we're disrupting mother nature​."

This comes as a response to the Dutch Dialogue's final report, which was an extended study focused on flooding in the Lowcountry.

Although it didn’t specifically reference banning fill-and-build development, Phillip Dustan says it was written all over it.

“The result of fill and build is number one, the forest is gone," Dustan said."Number two, the dirt that they put in place of the organic soil doesn’t soak up any water so the water runs off into surrounding neighborhoods because the newer development is built higher than the developments around it.”

Dustan, an ecology professor at the College of Charleston, has been researching this issue and the effects of these developments in areas like where he lives on Johns Island.

"We used to be concerned that that was disturbing the wildlife and the marshes," Dustan said. "Now we’re concerned that now it’s destroying our lives, our homes, and our houses."

Jack O’Toole, a spokesperson for the City of Charleston, sent the following statement to Live 5 News:“Stopping irresponsible build and fill is a major component of the city’s new storm water regulations, which will be coming to City Council next month. In the meantime, Tuesday night’s discussion will provide both council members and citizens with a valuable opportunity to begin considering these critical changes.”

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