McMasters Continues to Fight Sandfly Wal-mart - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/08/02

McMasters Continues to Fight Sandfly Wal-mart

The war over the Sandfly Wal-mart continues. Some Chatham County commissioners tried to stop Wal-mart even after the chain got a permit to build. Today, land owners spoke out at the commission meeting for the first time and threats of lawsuits forced commissioners into executive session to decide their next move.  Commissioner John McMasters asked to stop issuing further permits for this piece of land. That would mean no building permit, and that's when the meeting turned hostile. It's been a month since Wal-mart was given the green light in Sandfly, and any talk of changing that is resulting in a war of words.

Trees along the perimeter of the future Wal Mart site have started coming down, but McMasters is still fighting. He asked commissioners to not issue any more permits for the land in hopes of stopping a building permit, but now the landowners are fighting back, saying they've had enough.

"I don't like to sue people individually, but at the same time you're forced into that position, and we were at the point we were forced into filing a lawsuit to protect ourselves," said the landowners' attorney, Philip McCorkle. "It's a warning to you. It's not a threat. It's the facts. My clients are no longer going to sit around and watch you, Mr. McMasters, bring up commission items every two weeks and not do anything about it."

The owners of the 52-acre site are angry that Commissioner McMasters has continued putting their Sandfly property on county commission agendas, slowing things down. The landowners say they're losing money.

After McCorkle issued his warning, county commissioners made a quick move, going into executive session. Commissioners came back revoking McMasters' request, saying they couldn't stop permits on the land. Fellow commissioners then outnumbered McMasters when they voted to stop fighting the zoning.

"It's a disappointment," said McMasters. "It's a dark day for Chatham County."

Save Our Sandfly says it won't be giving up and will certainly be filing an appeal.

Landowners are hoping this will be the end, but they're prepared if it's not.

Reported by: Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com

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