Neighbors Oppose New Carolina RV Park
Nearly 50 angry residents took a handful of developers and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to task Thursday night (March 19) over a proposed RV park near Campobello, S.C., and the state's preliminary decision to allow that park to treat and discharge its own waste water.
The people were concerned about the impact on the water quality, both in their own wells and in the water supply of all of Spartanburg County, according to the Spartanburg Herald Journal.
They worried about traffic, unsightliness, the transient population such a park might bring and DHEC's inability to properly notify all parties who would be affected by that development – including the owners of adjacent land. They also complained that public records that were part of the permitting process had been difficult or impossible to obtain.
One of the park's developers said environmental concerns were being sensationalized in order to block his project, and an engineer associated with the park said the treatment of wastewater made it safe for the surrounding area.
The controversy stems from a 2007 proposal to put a 230-site RV resort on a frontage road near I-26 and Highway 11. The Spartanburg County Planning Commission blocked the development, citing – among other things – concern about the road's ability to handle the anticipated traffic and concerns about sewage disposal.
Earlier this year, the Spartanburg County Council decided not to endorse a request to allow the park to connect to the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District.
However, in December DHEC gave preliminary approval to park owners Chuck Piazza, Gus Meyers and Todd Parris for a permit that would allow on-site wastewater treatment.
The water would be treated and discharged into the ground, while solid waste would be hauled to a nearby sewage plant.
Permitting Process Panned
Thursday night brought a hearing on that permit. No one other than those tied to the project had anything good to say about it.
"Our lives and welfare are at stake," resident Don McDonald said.
Attorney Pat Knie, who lives on a 20-acre site adjacent to the proposed park, is representing a group of residents and property owners and threatened legal action on several fronts if DHEC formally issues a permit to the developers.
He contended, among other things, that the developers had failed to provide – and DHEC failed to require – appropriate studies and plans, including a management plan and financial plan.
David Hargett, an environmental scientist from Greer, S.C., said that the state agency had accepted an inadequate soil sample, failed to prohibit certain toxins from being released into ground and surface water and had not imposed future testing and monitoring requirements. Hargett said, as proposed, several pollutants would be released into the water table – the water feeds into Alexander Creek, which itself flows into Lake Bowen – including at least two carcinogens.
If Lake Bowen were contaminated, that would affect all of Spartanburg County, he said.
Developer Will Gramling said, after working with DHEC in the past, he was surprised with the casual nature in which they had treated the owners of the proposed park – particularly for what he called a "prototypical" wastewater treatment system in South Carolina.
"Usually, if you're one degree off, there's a mound of paperwork," he said.
Engineer Robert Whitaker said the treatment system proposed was developed by Louisiana State University and was perfectly safe. He said he would make copies of his studies available for free to anyone who asked.
"I can appreciate where you're coming from," said Piazza, one of the developers. "But you are using this wastewater system as a smokescreen to block the project. …You special people are denying the opportunity to bring tax revenue to this county, jobs, and you're not bringing in people who you think are lowlifes. Most are well-educated with tremendous spending power."
DHEC officials will continue to accept written comments on the project through March 27, and – because of the disdain expressed Thursday night – will consider extending that deadline, possibly into mid-April.