PICKENS — “Christmas has come early to Pickens,” said County Councilman Wes Hendricks when asked how he felt about the recent decision by the developer to cancel the Summit at Glassy subdivision, opting instead for a conservation approach.
“No, I was very happy, this is what the people wanted and I’m pleased it could work out to where all parties were satisfied,” he said. “This is a perfect example of everyone coming together to achieve a positive result.”
The decision to scrap the subdivision plans came as a surprise to many given the court battle leading up to it.
In July, the conservation nonprofit Upstate Forever filed an appeal and a request for pre-litigation mediation in Pickens County circuit court in conjunction with adjacent landowners Shelly Smith and Doug Hinkle.
The opposing party filed a motion to dismiss, but in August, a Fourth Circuit judge ruled in the plaintiff’s favor and upheld the appeal.
“I’m very relieved that the land will not be developed, and I’m glad this is a win-win for everyone,” said Smith. “If Upstate Forever had not worked with the community to oppose this inappropriate subdivision proposal, the Glassy Mountain area’s rural character would have been permanently changed. I am grateful for their support in protecting this special place.”
According to documents obtained by The Sentinel-Progress, The Atlantic Coast Conservancy recorded the conservation easement on the property on Dec. 14.
“This is a done deal, the conservation is filed and on record,” said Upstate Forever Director of Energy and State Policy Shelley Robinson. “This is a happy decision and we’re absolutely calling this a win.”
The easement stipulates that there can be no development or subdivisions built on the property, although it does allow timber management/harvest of a portion that is a pine plantation, back to oak hickory. Many conservation easements continue to allow for traditional land uses such as farming and timbering, said an Upstate Forever spokesperson.
Also included in the easement is 5.7 acres for a “Reserved Homesite.”
“Upstate Forever works to promote balanced growth — we are not at all anti-growth. As such, we are very selective in engaging in efforts against developments,” said Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever. “However, in the case of Glassy Mountain, it was clear that we had to get involved to protect one of the Upstate’s most iconic places that defines the character of the region. Everyone who participated in this strong collaborative community effort should be very proud.”
Cooper said they were thankful that the property owners decided on a conservation solution.
“We also deeply appreciate everyone in the community who worked together to protect the rural character of the area and the treasure that is the Glassy Mountain Heritage Trust Preserve,” she said.
The proposed development was originally meant to consist of a subdivision of 254 homes on 183 acres. It was approved by the Pickens County Planning Commission despite public misgivings back in June.
Upstate Forever states Glassy Mountain is a rare geologic formation known as a “monadnock.”
The SC Department of Natural Resources preserves 65 acres of the monadnock, the Glassy Mountain Heritage Preserve, as this land-form is unusual in South Carolina and harbors several rare plant species, they said.
Additionally, Glassy Mountain is surrounded by several large, privately-owned and rural or agrarian tracts that contribute significantly to the protection of the sensitive ecosystem that surrounds it, they said.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.