The Gate To Compromise Is Closed
Belle Terre gates remain shut as City-led effort to find compromise sputters
By Charlie Morrison
On April 30, JIM reported that the City of Charleston had approved “temporary” security gates at both ends of the neighborhood now known as Belle Terre, a long-debated tract of land located on the east end of James Island. The presence of the gates ruffled many resident’s feathers, who did not want to live within a “gated community” nor pay for the cost of the $85,000 gates. But recently there’s been some movement on the issue with City leaders sitting down with representatives from both the Belle Terre neighborhood’s fledgling HOA along with the de-facto voice of opposition to the gates’ closure, the HOA nearby Lighthouse Point neighborhood.
Earlier this month a meeting was called by City Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson to address the issue. In attendance were City attorney Adelaide Andrew, the City’s Director of Public Works Laura Cabiness, Belle Terre Home Owners Association (HOA) members Craig Stamey, Brent Patterson, and Paul Feldman, along with Lighthouse Point HOA representatives Jim Creech, Bill Lyon, and Brook Lyon, who serves as the HOA’s President.
In addition, as there was discussion about the criminal activity and vandalism in the Belle Terre area how our Crime Watch was instrumental in monitoring and reporting those activities, City Police Chief Tony Elder
The meeting’s purpose was to find a compromise regarding the Belle Terre gates, which remain closed to the public 24-hours per day despite a City policy against such measures. Questions were raised about the gates being “temporary” and not being removed until 75 percent of the lots (21) have occupancy permits issued.
Requests were made by Wilson and Lighthouse Point residents that at some point the gates be opened during the day prior to the gates being opened permanently, however, those requests ultimately fell on deaf ears.
The Belle Terre developers stuck to their City-approved agreement, further indicating that only five homes have been constructed or are under construction at this time but that they expect construction of additional homes to increase.
The City of Charleston indicated at the meeting that there’s nothing they can do, though that the situation “will change the way the City of Charleston Council views temporary gates in the future.” According to Wilson, the city is legally bound by their permit, which has not been violated in any way.
The representatives from Belle Terre HOA did offer up one concession, however, that they’d be willing to modify the rear entry path around the rear gate on Schooner Drive so as to allow foot traffic.
At the meeting, Feldman, who heads up the Belle Terre HOA and his fellow representatives promised to cut the bushes back and make the angle of the path more gentle and passable. The Belle Terre Board has also promised to discuss these matters with their members. It was agreed that we would all meet again after that discussion. Councilwoman Wilson indicated that she will continue to work for a compromise on this matter.