The City of Charleston won a Supreme Court lawsuit–filed by the town of James Island to incorporate into a separate town. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says he will welcome James Island citizens to be a part of the city.
We have had a lot of people over the last few years that have come up to me and said, ‘This town, if ya’ll win the lawsuit, I sure want to come into the city, we don’t have a police department and they’ve had some crime issues, so we’d really like to be a part of the city of Charleston.’ So, we welcome those who are contiguous. And, of course, the people who don’t want to join the city of Charleston will continue to reside and stay as they have been before.
This was James Island’s third try at becoming its own town. While Charleston has long opposed the attempt by Island leaders to create the new town, there are legal issues as well. This most recent effort involves grouping neighborhoods together that are not connected to each other- which is illegal under state law.
When Riley says “contiguous” he means literally–sharing the same border or touching the border. He says if a resident wants to become a part of the city but his or her neighbor does not then that person has to wait.
When your next door neighbor comes in if you’d like to join, you can as well. So, we have lots of people who touch, and what we’ll do if someone calls, we’ll look at the map and say, ‘well, you’re two houses away.’ Then we’ll call their next door neighbor and see if one of them would like to come into the city and if they do then they can come in.
James Island officials tried to connect the neighborhoods by using state-owned roads. The court ruled that was improper, as it makes the new city limits weave around those other parts of the island that have already been annexed by Charleston.
Right now about 20,000 people live on the island. It now goes back to being part of Charleston County as a result of the ruling.
Riley says he didn’t want to give James Island and chance at incorporating, because if they failed it’s almost impossible to dissolve a city.