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Wando/Huger Residents Want Participation In Development Discussion
2/5/2014 4:06:30 PM

Proposed Cainhoy Development (Credit: ESRI)
Staff Reports

As the development of the 9,000-acre Cainhoy Plantation is debated, perhaps forgotten in the discussion about preserving the pristine quality of the landscape is the quality of life for many of the people who live there.

For generations Blacks have lived in the Wando/Huger area East of the Cooper River on plantations that grew indigo and rice. After the Civil War until modern times many remained on the land subsistence farming and surviving off the abundance of wild game, fish and seafood provided by the forest and rivers.

When the large plantations were divided, former slaves purchased some of the land and for the last 150 years raised their families in relative isolation and self-sufficiency. Many still worked on the plantations. Some worked at jobs in Mount Pleasant and Charleston until planting season when they grew the foods they needed to carry them through winters.

For them the land has emotional value. It’s where they lived, grew up, died and were buried. The land represents their history, culture and way of life.

That’s changed in the past 40 years or so however. Many families that didn’t get electricity until the 1950s or indoor bathrooms until the 1970s now are in close proximity to multimillion dollar homes on the rivers and creeks they fished for sustenance.

The opening of the Mark Clark Expressway, I-526, in 1992 also opened a floodgate of development. The proposed 9,000-acre development of the Cainhoy Plantation represents an end to their old way of life. Development is inevitable. People like Fred Lincoln of Cainhoy and Dot Scott of Huger realize that.

They remember when the affluent Daniels Island community that is home to one of the nation’s premier tennis tournaments was an isolated seaside community of some 100 Black families and the most significant thing about the Huger community was Charity Church and the road that bears its name.

The construction of the Mark Clark Expressway meant those isolated communities now were connected to urban North Charleston by a mere 20-minute drive. Communities that once had to build their own schools now were opened to a whole new world, said Lincoln.

He knows that development has made life better in many ways. But those who have lived on the land for generations want to maintain some of the things that represent their past, their history and their culture.

As the discussion over coming development occurs, they want to be part of it. At stake is the remaining land they still own and their future on the land that has been their home. They realize that with development comes displacement and they want to remain on the land not as renters, but as property owners. That’s the only way they will survive, Lincoln says.

Though the proposed development lies mostly in the Wando area of the community, Scott knows that it will infiltrate the Huger community as well.

She’s seen the development that inundated other neighborhoods like Jack Primus and Yellow House off Clement Ferry Road. And the location of manufacturers like Amoco and Nucor brought more displacement than economic benefits.

Like Lincoln, she thinks the key to their survival lies in their participation is the decision making process which will determine how development occurs.

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