The fight over Shem Creek starts to get interesting 

Up the Creek

"May you live in interesting times" is one of those clever old phrases that sounds rather polite, almost pleasant even, but the pleasantries mask the fact that it's actually a curse meant to doom a poor soul to a life of strife and insecurity. These are interesting times, friends, and we've more or less cursed ourselves to them.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps the times are just what they are, and they aren't by any particular design. I suppose that sort of philosophical thinking winds up simply being about which side of the free-will/determinism debate you land on, whether of the theistic or purely scientific variety. But, as I like to tell people, it doesn't matter if there is or isn't a God or if the universe is or isn't on a set course to nowhere with nothing for us to do but pass the time, the point is we're stuck here one way or the other, so let's at least enjoy all of this for what it is.

I mean, what could you possibly not enjoy about an election season that could destroy not one, but both of the oligarchy's political parties? Or a time when a sitting member of Congress can just pull out an e-cig in the middle of a Congressional hearing and vape like no one's watching? Or a group of single-issue candidates ends up on a town council in the fourth-largest town in the second-fastest growing state in the country and realizes they're up Shem Creek without a paddle? Because it seems those are the interesting times those of us east of the Cooper find ourselves in.

This pleasant little burg, elevation 12-feet in most places, is experiencing the most unpleasant kind of growing pains. More accurately, it's the pain of the rubber band snapping back and smacking you in the face instead of your intended target.

Mt. Pleasant, you see, has realized that it's growing too fast. If you look at the numbers, though, you'd be hard-pressed to explain why many people in town only noticed this in the last year or so. Well, the answer's simple: the staggering growth of Mt. Pleasant has been, probably going back to the day the town was founded but almost certainly since the 1970s, roughly on a line heading northeast away from the Old Village.

But, just as the City of Charleston has found itself hemmed in and unable to grow, so has Mt. Pleasant reached a stopping point. They can't cross the Wando River to the west, and they can't go any further north because of Awendaw and the Francis Marion National Forest. What little land is left that isn't part of the town isn't likely to be annexed anytime soon, and that means that if Mt. Pleasant wants to continue to grow, it has to look back toward its motherland, so to speak, those tracts that were underdeveloped in the early days when people wanted to pay for not just a home but a front yard. And a back yard. And an attached garage. You know, things you can't find in a super-dense, mixed-use development.

Meanwhile, as the town was bending over backwards to rewrite its own zoning ordinances to accommodate some new developments here and there, they also had an eye on finding a balance between the "small-town" feel of Mt. Pleasant with the notion that the town needs to modernize and urbanize in order to deal with life in the present day and age.

Unfortunately, when the residents of old Mt. Pleasant started noticing that new Mt. Pleasant was no longer being built up the narrow corridors of Highways 17 and 41 anymore, but was in fact encroaching on their home turf, they took up arms and began exchanging fighting words. This led to the election of a new batch of town council members who had only one thing in mind: saving Shem Creek. This apparently involves some sort of scorched earth policy against the business people of Shem Creek, complete with a "Come at me, bro" moment in the parking lot of RB's last week. Interesting times, indeed.

But, as I said, we have to find ways to enjoy them. Personally, I'm not going to take sides in a fight between wealthy business owners and wealthy homeowners unless I absolutely have to. They'll be fine without me. There's just two things that I do think Mt. Pleasanters should consider.

First, the dust from all of this will settle sooner or later, and at that point, you're going to have a town council with nothing left to do. They've either won or lost their fight, and they won't know where to go from there. That should be even more fun to watch.

Second, if the predictions about the rising sea levels in this area are accurate, Shem Creek will actually be Shem River by the end of the century. At the very least, I imagine this means the shrimp boats will be back in business.


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