One of the hardest things to explain to people about McClellanville is that we are not going to be “discovered” one day and change over night. I cant blame their cynicism, because weve all known a sleepy little town that we loved to visit or pass through and then one day the town has become a city and its lost all its charm. The people that came to enjoy the “quaintness” ruined it in the process, because they didnt see what harm a few Starbucks and a Super Wal-mart could do.
First of all, to claim that we are undiscovered is simply a myth. McClellanville is frequently featured in local and national magazines and Hurricane Hugo certainly put us in the nations spotlight. McClellanville doesnt want to be famous though. The people here are warm and friendly, but that doesnt mean they are welcome to change. I certainly dont blame the people that visit here and tell everyone they know how wonderful McClellanville is. This article is to enlighten all the nay-sayers that respond “Its going to be sad when it all changes” or “what will it be like in 10 years”. I cant promise that McClellanville will never change, Ive witnessed gradual change over the years, but here are a few reasons why McClellanville is better off than most towns.
6) To start with, McClellanville is ideally located between two massive federally protected wildlife area. These protected lands act as a buffer between the town and other growing areas and their urban sprawl. The Francis Marion National Forests 26,000 acres of land wrap around McClellanville to the North, South and West. There are literally miles and miles of protected forest between McClellanville and all of its nearest neighbors. The Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge contains over 66,000 acres of protected creeks, marshes, and islands to the East of McClellanville. Our beaches are pristine and only accessible by boat. You wont find any beach houses, causeways, or parking lots popping up on these small islands as long as this area remains a Federally protected sanctuary. Both areas are home to many endangered species and are breeding grounds for hundreds of species.
5) Privately granted land trusts, like the nearby Santee Coastal Reserve which contains 24,000 acres of protected land, are growing in number each year through the hard work of organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Lowcountry Open Land Trust. Some donations may be only a few acres here and there, but once granted they can never be developed. Private organizations such as the Coastal Conservation League also contribute greatly toward protecting our natural resources and preserving our rural way of life.
4) At the core of McClellanville is its community. Town members, many of which are lifetime residents, appreciate the simple life we have here and dont want to change it. We react strongly and oppose any possibilities of change and raise our children to appreciate these same things while hoping that new town members will feel the same way.
3) The Town of McClellanville is an incorporated town in Charleston County. This gives us a communal voice in the political arena. Incorporation also gives McClellanville the power to annex new lands into the city limits and prevents other cities from annexing us. Incorporation allows McClellanville to elect a mayor and town council members to govern. We elect members who share the common concerns of the community and will fight to preserve it.
2) The mayor and town council members are granted the power to pass ordinances and other regulations to provide structure for the town. We have many important ordinances which maintain the look and feel of McClellanville and ensure that growth is regulated. There are ordinances which prohibit mobile homes, timeshares, and multi-family residences. As a part of Tree City USA, McClellanville also has a Tree Ordinance which limits the amount of tree clearing that can be done and maintains that “grand trees” such as the live oaks will be protected. There are building codes limiting the maximum size of homes to 3500 sq. ft. and 2 1/2 stories. There are zoning restrictions limiting the minimum size of new lots to 3/4 acre inside the Historic District and 1 acre for the rest of McClellanville. There is an Architectural Review Board (ARB) that governs changes within the Historic Districts.
1) Perhaps the greatest barrier against growth that McClellanville has is actually something that it lacks – public water and sewage. McClellanville is still completely on well and septic systems and is strongly opposed to changing from this. Septic tanks are regulated by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and greatly limit the type and size of homes and businesses that are allowed in McClellanville. This reduces the appeal for developers to move into the area and reinforces the ordinances that we have also set in place that regulate the use of the land.
So the next time someone says “Itll be a shame when this is all gone” to you, let them know why it wont be gone any time soon.