Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stop High Density Development - and Scientology While You're At It

While America sits on its ass contemplating the idiotic behavior of pointless Scientologists, some folks are fighting a lonely, uphill battle to preserve nothing less than our national heritage. One such "preservation activist" is my aunt, Meta Carter, a truly remarkable woman one could blog about for days and never, ever scratch the surface of her astonishing character and life. She's done everything from horse wrangling on movie sets to founding Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding.

I know that anyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing Meta would say she's probably the most loyal friend a person could hope to have. I know she is undoubtedly the most devoted aunty any niece could ever hope for. There is virutally nothing I know or say or do on a daily basis that is not relevant to the immeasurable influence she's had on me.

I also know Meta can be extremely shy, reserved and quite dignified, not at all comfortable in public settings, unless horses are somehow involved that is. But she's done something remarkable lately, likely struggling fiercely with her shyness to do so too, and transformed herself into a passionate, outspoken critic and opponent of irresponsible land development in the Charleston, SC Ashley River Historic District. Below is the text from a recent editorial she wrote for the Charleston Post and Courier that will give you an idea of what she's been up to lately.

If your family is still pondering a summer vacation spot, I urge you to consider visiting the South Carolina Lowcountry area - while you still can. There is an insidious, deplorable race being run right now to greedily grab, destroy and develop what is left of this critical portion of our nation's land, culture and history.

Thank goodness for people like my aunt Meta, her brother Heyward Carter and others who are willing to give virtually every resource at their disposal to a critical conservaton effort so that we can possible keep, as Southerners and as Americans, a vital and a stunningly beautiful part of the planet to treasure and enjoy.

If we stop giving a shit about development-run-amuck, then all we're ever going to get is written-up in the New York Times - just like Atlanta.

I grew up in the Ashley River Corridor and returned here 20 years ago because of all the beautiful places around the world where I have lived and visited, this landscape is the one that moves me the most.

I have just returned from another deferred meeting concerning the Watson Hill development. I'm angry and incredulous, like many other opponents of this development who drove to this mid-afternoon meeting only to be met with a sign on the door that signified that our efforts were in vain. Again. The Watson Hill development crisis has blindsided the community. We should have seen this coming and begun work a decade ago on a plan to preserve the Ashley River Corridor.

Approval of the Watson Hill development means a bleak future for the Ashley River Corridor; it means that there never will be a plan for preservation here … it will be too late.

Future generations of residents will regret that their predecessors did not have a vision for the way things should be, or did not make that vision into a plan. Future residents will not have a choice, because once a rural environment is changed so drastically, the damage is irreversible; once natural resources are gone, they are not coming back.

This type of high density development, the consequent huge increase in traffic, the Glenn McConnell Highway extension that will have to be built through what is now forest land is destructive.

Poplar Grove is an example of how a good, well planned development in a rural community can balance preservation of natural resources with very high profit for developers. Why can't Watson Hill follow this example?

Approval of Watson Hill will be a disaster. Refusal of this plan will be a triumph.


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