The SCNPS has retained the services of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) to challenge the Spartanburg County Planning Commission’s conditional approval of an RV park on Goldmine Creek, a high-quality, ecologically sensitive Piedmont headwaters stream which, together with the surrounding forest, is home to a rare and threatened (in more ways than one) species, the Dwarf-Flowered Heartleaf. The appeal asks the Court of Common Pleas to reverse the Commission’s decision and to vacate the conditional approval of the site plan. Several homeowners associations and nearby landowners have also appealed the conditional approval of the site plan. The Circuit Court will decide both appeals.
The approved “park” (we use that word lightly) would include 86 parking spaces, 49 “campsites,” a stormwater detention pond, and (wait for it) a septic field. Despite the fact that the County’s own Unified Land Management Ordinance requires that RV park developments “protect ecologically sensitive areas” and “preserve natural features and landscape,” the developer’s site plan takes into account neither the presence of the rare plant nor the existence of ecologically sensitive areas, including important water resources and rich forest habitats. The kicker? The areas around this proposed RV park in Campobello are already protected by conservation easements. (Maybe it’s just us, but the phrase “No RV Park is an island” comes to mind.)
“This beautiful forest, clean stream, and very rare plant are important parts of Spartanburg County’s natural heritage,” said Frank Holleman, SELC senior attorney. “The County’s Ordinance requires that specific steps be taken to protect this important area, but the site plan approved by the Planning Commission would do real harm to this special place.”
In South Carolina, the Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf exists only in a limited band of the upper Piedmont in Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Greenville Counties in rich, damp forests. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources considers it a “Highest Priority Species” in the South Carolina Wildlife Action Plan, and it has been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1989. In Spartanburg County, the Department of Natural Resources established the Peters Creek Heritage Preserve to protect one of the areas where this plant is found.
“You can’t find this plant anywhere else in the world, and this development is not designed to protect this special plant and its habitat,” said Kathryn Ellis, president of South Carolina Native Plant Society. “We work to protect South Carolina’s natural heritage, including its important plants, and this site plan threatens these values that we all hold dear.”
The appeal filed yesterday asks the Court of Common Pleas to reverse the Planning Commission’s decision and to vacate the conditional approval of the site plan for the RV Park.
In addition to SELC’s appeal, homeowner associations and nearby landowners have also appealed the conditional approval of the site plan. The Circuit Court will decide both appeals.