Dorchester County working on finalizing Greenbelt Master Plan draft

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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) – Dorchester County Council has been working for months to bring more conservation and preservation to the area.
In November 2022, a referendum was passed to allocate $35 million towards Greenbelt programs and preserving green spaces. Since then, they have developed a greenbelt committee and initiated an official plan. In 2023, they formulated a well-equipped committee of conservationists, wildlife biologists, local landowners and other leaders.
Since the beginning of this year, the committee has been gathering public feedback and input on the Greenbelt Master Plan. Now, using the community input they have received, the greenspace data they have collected and the knowledge of the committee they have been drafting the official plan to put to use.
There will be a first look at the draft plan thus far Wednesday night. The Dorchester County Council and Dorchester County Conservation and Greenbelt Advisory Commission will hold a joint workshop open to the public. The workshop begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be held at the Willie R. Davis Council Chambers at the Kenneth F. Waggoner Services Center located at 201 Johnston Street in St. George. Officials say to use the Ridge Street entrance if you plan on attending.
County Councilman for District 2 and Council Chairman David Chinnis shared the importance of preserving greenspace areas. He said that many people do not realize the process that goes into protecting certain areas of land. He breaks it down by explaining that the county essentially has to buy land to prevent new developments from being built. This is where the Greenbelt plan and funding come into play.
The Greenbelt Master Plan has been a long time coming, but they have already been able to initiate some of it. Very recently, the county purchased 102 acres of land off Tom Pike Lane near Dorchester Road. Chinnis said this land was very likely to be turned into 600 apartments, but they were able to purchase it and preserve it using the Greenbelt Master Plan funding. Chinnis said that they are hoping to eventually turn this land into a park so that the public can still enjoy it, but differently, and this is just one of many projects they will initiate using the Greenbelt Master plan. He said preserving these areas is so important.
“We know that we like trees and open spaces,” he said. “We like that. We, as elected county councilmen, we value that very greatly. It’s hard to get to. So that is how we’re going to continue to create this green space, open space.”
Chinnis said that while areas of Dorchester are continuously growing, county leaders recognized the need and importance of preserving areas of land and green spaces among the growth.
“We don’t get this opportunity again. I know for a fact I won’t live to see that oak tree behind me ever get that big again. And for the community and the children – I’ve got a three-year-old grandson and a seven-year-old granddaughter – and for them to come out here at some point in time, it’s pretty important. Parks are important,” Chinnis said while standing in one of the recently preserved fields off Tom Pike Lane.
After the plan is discussed Wednesday, they will need to finalize it, get it approved and they can get started on more projects like the one on Tom Pike Lane. Chinnis also said that the South Carolina Association of Counties, which they work closely with, is looking to promote greenbelts in more counties across the state.
Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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