Public Power, Private Gain: South Carolina



South Carolina did not condemn any private property for private use in the past five years, according to news reports. Its one ongoing lawsuit over public use involves the condemnation of land owned by the State of Georgia within South Carolina. However, during that dispute, Jasper County officials announced that they could condemn property for economic development and gave as an example the condemnation of private properties for a BMW auto plant in Greer622 that began producing cars in 1994.623 This comfort with condemning property for economic development does not bode well for South Carolina citizens. Although there are apparently no actual condemnations during the five year period, there were threats to condemn seven homes for largely private purposes.


Private Condemnations


The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport wants to build a second runway, possibly in the next 13 years. The airport’s executive director says the second runway is needed to attract a major aviation user like UPS or Federal Express. So, in October 1998, the airport voted to acquire seven homes as a buffer zone for the someday-to-be-built runway. It sent out an appraiser in November 1998, who told the owners that once he gave them offers, they would have 60 days to negotiate and 90 days to move. Among the homeowners are Irby and Clara Hendrix, who were 89 and 92 when they received this alarming news. Another family member, 77, lives with them. Other family members live nearby. The Hendrixes had lost their previous home only a few years earlier to Duke Power for utility service. Also threatened were Joan and Elmer Cassell, who abandoned their remodeling plans. The Cassells have spent 23 years developing their trees and gardens and worry that they won’t be able to replace their current home. The director of the airport admits that the Hendrixes land might in fact be used as a private industrial park. As of June 1999, there had been no developments, and the elderly residents were nervous and unsure how to plan for the future.624 No further news reports reveal the outcome of this situation.  

*These numbers were compiled from news sources. Many cases go unreported, and news reports often do not specify the number of properties against which condemnations were filed or threatened.

622 “Georgia, S.C. Battling Over Savannah Port Project,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, Nov. 30, 2001, at 4A.

623 Jim Clarke, “BMW Opens First North American Plant, Says Quality Will Be Key,” AP Wire, Nov. 14, 1994.

624 Deb Richardson Moore, “Homeowners Feeling Squeezed, Peeved by Airport Growth,” Greenville News, June 2, 1999, at 1A.