The S.C. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Richland County in a decade-long case brought by a Myrtle Beach developer who wanted to build a $1 billion “city within a city” on farmland south of Columbia.
The court ruled the county didn’t impose improper restrictions on the so-called “Green Diamond” site along I-77/development in the area, which federal regulators had determined was in a flood plain. Developers Burroughs & Chapin, which was the majority stakeholder in what was named Columbia Venture, was seeking to recoup some of its losses incurred when federal flood lines were changed to include much of the 4,500 acres of property bordering the Congaree River.
That prevented development on most of the land. The company had charged that the county, in adopting the federal lines, had engaged in an illegal “taking” of the property by not allowing it to be developed.
“In sum, we find no taking occurred,” the court wrote in a unanimous decision. “Richland County is not the ‘involuntary guarantor of the property owner’s gamble that he could develop the land as he wished despite the existing regulatory structure.’”
Burroughs & Chapin, which bought the property in 1999, planned to build houses, shopping complexes, golf courses, hotels and nature areas on the property, near I-77 and Bluff Road. The company later created Columbia Venture when it was recruiting additional investors in the project.
Attorneys for the county earlier said the decision, had it gone against Richland, could have cost the county $43 million.
Wednesday’s court decision follows revelations this past spring that Columbia Venture had sold off some 3,000 acres of the approximately 4,500 acres it originally wanted to develop.
The company acquired the land in the late 1990s from a popular lower Richland County farmer, the late Burwell Manning, for the development. But it ran into trouble with federal flood restrictions and had many detractors in the Columbia area.
Many people were put off by Burroughs and Chapin’s failure to provide details of its development plan and the project’s possible impact on the environment along the Congaree River.