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Poplar Grove Developer Respects Profit Over People, Residents Not Having It
6/18/2014 3:37:37 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Most Black residents of the Davidson community have relatives buried in Lowdnes Cemetery at the end of Bulow Road which intersects with the main road through the community. There’s also a boat landing at the end of the road where Blacks and whites who live there have fished for generations. In the past the residents have resisted development that threatened both community resources. That threat has resurfaced. Residents say they will continue their resistance.

The controversy between the residents and the developer is another example of how development around the Lowcountry sometimes places profits before people, said Hollywood Rep. Robert Brown who represents S.C. House Dist. 116 and the Davidson community.

Bulow Road also is the site of the new Poplar Grove housing subdivision. Its developer, Vic Mills, is beginning the next phase of construction for the development. A swimming pool and clubhouse are planned for construction directly in front of the cemetery that will be surrounded by residential development on the Rantowles Creek waterfront.

Davidson residents want to coexist with the development that is changing their once isolated rural community. They even will coexist with the disrespect developers show for their sacred burial grounds. But the developer also wants to put up a gate across Bulow Road that will prevent them from going to the cemetery and the boat landing. Residents say the gate is illegal. The developer has ignored that and started to build infrastructure on the road.

Charleston County has maintained Bulow Road and Lowdnes Boat Landing since the 1950s. The residents, who have buried their dead in Lowndes Cemetery for over 100 years, hold the deed and title to the burial grounds and the county maintains the boat landing is public through an easement agreement.

Brown said the newest phase of the Poplar Grove development is typical of some that completely disregards the heritage and culture of those who live in the communities where they locate. Especially waterfront communities, Brown said. The earliest recognizable gravestones in Lowdnes Cemetery date back to 1917, but others are older.

Emma Frazier whose late brother, Willie Frazier, before his death organized a cemetery committee to preserve Lowdnes Cemetery said her brother, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all are buried in the cemetery.

The Atlanta, Ga. resident said she too likely will be buried there with the rest of her family. Most residents of the community have relatives buried there. Some current residents contribute to a fund for their future burial in the cemetery, she said.

The developer’s effort to illegally close off the road in an attempt to create a gated community not only ignores public rights, but takes away their heritage and link to the past, Frazier said.

Cemetery committee member Theresa Gibson asked how Mills could just come in and take everything from people who have been in and around the former Lowdnes rice plantation for generations. She hopes Lowndes Cemetery won’t end up like others in Mount Pleasant, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island. Brown promises that won’t happen.

He’s led opposition that so far has resulted in a Charleston County work stop order on the gate. He promises to take the issue to the courts if necessary. Privatizing the road takes away public resources, he said.

“Developers who come into these communities should be trying to help them, not deny them their resources. As long as I’m their representative, that’s not going to happen because there will be a fight. This is an example of how some bad developers are all about profits. Certainly not all develpoers are bad, but some are willing to disrespect people and their communities. We think our voices are more powerful than their money,” Brown said.

Visitor Comments
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Submitted By: Level-Headed Neighbor Down the Road Submitted: 6/19/2014
I live a few minutes away and use the Lowdnes Boat Landing regularly. The developer was putting up a timed gate that restricted access to the cemetery and landing during the night to protect the cemetery from being desecrated and stop 'certain' late night activities. This cemetery is a special place and we should want to protect it. When I heard about it I thought it was about time! As I understand it, the developer was fronting the bill for this completely. This whole article is beyond silly.

Submitted By: Knows the real Vic Mills Submitted: 7/9/2014
I have been unfortunate enough to do some work with Vic Mills and in my opinion he is the most selfish, greedy person I have ever met. He has known for some time that that road does not belong to him because he has been hoping the county would pave it for him, but now it is about selling lots to builders and building some homes of his own to sell and he doesn't want other people using that area and it not appearing to be a private exclusive community. He is only interested in doing what is best for him and allowing him to make the best profit and not at all what is best for the people who live in the area.. He does not live in Charleston, but only flies in on his 4-5 Million dollar private jet with his private pilot to deal with problems like this and look for more land or projects he can buy and change Charleston for his and his investors profit. He keeps an older car at the airport so he can drive around town and appear that he is just a "regular guy". He can be very nice and complimentary when he wants something, but I don't trust him at all and know people he has cheated or not paid them what he owed them after they did the work. He knows it is too hard for the little guy to fight him and his big company and lawyers so he just does what he wants and then does the same thing to the next person he finds to do that job that no one else will do - he thinks people are disposable unless they can help him with something. He allowed a conservation easement for 2/3rds of Poplar Grove only because he got $10 Million Dollars from Conservation Groups to do that and it was to his advantage. He owns much more property in that area that he is trying to develop as well and annex into Hollywood so he does not have to "deal with Charleston county" and get access to all of the sewer permits, He has so many different projects in different LLC's with different names to protect himself and try to fly under the radar. Any agreement with him needs to be in writing and checked and double checked for any gray areas before being signed. Just my experience and my opinion.

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