To the Editor:
Former Dorchester Council Chairman Jamie Feltner’s recent death seems to have gone without much notice, but not without a good bit of regret, so I would like to honor his legacy.
Among the many ways to do so, let me choose but one.
About this time of year in 2005, news broke about the impending development of the about 6,600-acre tract known as Watson Hill along the Ashley River Road.
Using a template from their developments in Florida, the new owners proposed about 4,500 homes, a commercial district, plus hotels, golf courses, and more.
A good many people thought it was OK and that to oppose it was to infringe upon private property rights, while others were against it, viewing such development as destructive of the scenic and historic Ashley River district and setting a precedent for approving such sprawl elsewhere.
The Dorchester County Council itself was divided, but not long after the announcement, Jamie was elected to council. With the help of allies, he was able to slow down approvals and then to pass the district’s re-rezoning to a citizens’ committee to propose new zoning ordinances.
I was on that committee. While not perfect —and it was a compromise — the current zoning for Watson Hill is based, in no small measure, on what we recommended and constitutes a drastic step away from the proposed Florida-like, mega-development. Much of that was due to Jamie’s support, courage, and leadership.
While Drayton Hall’s director, I do remember inviting Jamie and other council members to one of our oyster roasts. Speaking spontaneously, he addressed the group and explained it makes no difference whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, a local or a tourist, we all care about the Ashley River.
It’s a treasure we are blessed with, and it’s our responsibility as God’s children to take care of it.
Good words indeed, and best of all, they were from the heart. Thank you, Jamie.
George W. McDaniel
Chairman, Ashley Scenic River Advisory Council