Sunday, April 08, 2007

Will They Stick It to the Bohicket ?


Last May we rolled down to Rockville, SC, to Cherry Point Seafood Company. Today we're parked on a different side from our original picture, but like the entire tract, it provides a commanding view of the Bohicket Creek. Cherry Point is an old family business run by an old island family which has long held that land to its current use. They make their living supplying shrimp trawlers with fuel, ice and off-loading facilities.

As they survive in this business so survives something of an unwritten land trust, a compact with the their neighbors to hold the line against abandoning this very choice parcel of real estate to developers. The pressures of development on the coastal communities of the low country are stronger than the countless hurricanes which they have endured. It causes a rapid erosion of the character and tranquility of little villages such as Rockville.

Development comes in all sizes from major high density subdivisions to individual residential structures which are increasingly outsized and outstanding against the relatively modest fabric of the village. People who have the money to buy into expensive coastal lands increasingly want their castle to reflect the outlay. They will cloak this desire in far kinder terms, but it's quite simply conspicuous consumption. Just one such temple to the ego can lean hard on village ambiance.

The shrimping industry has been hit by wildly increasing fuel costs, heavy regulation, foreign competition as well as the host of natural disasters which come with that territory. As the shrimpers are increasingly against the ropes Cherry Point feels every punch. We can't predict what will happen here, but the winds of change are picking up. If they have to quit any part of this fetching waterfront property it is certain that development is at the door. The questions is not if, but when development comes to this site, will they stick it to the Bohicket with some mansion made in the image of Tara II or will it be consistent with the design and tempo of this endangered little village?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I know the LaRoche's and I think that they will make the right decision. They love Wadmalaw, and I believe that they want what's best for the island and Rockville. Micah will have to call forth the wisdom of Solomon on this,but I believe that he can do it. Wadmalaw is where I call home and hope that it remains unspoiled.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

I hope this old family business stays in business ! Too many disappear in the face of big money interests,

11:43 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Right again, Elizabeth. Our concerns are NOT with Micah because we feel that he will balance the future needs of his family with assurance that the quality of life at Rockville would not be challenged.

When we say that the part of the problem is "On Island", as they liked to say on what was once Nantucket, we refer to those who pose as good shepherds of the island, but are actually ravening developers. We refer to what has already been built and the sly way in which approval was sought AND granted. In that case you had a "Been Yuh" who was not frank about was going to "Come Yuh".

What we fear is that Micah's good intentions might be reversed if and when the land passes from his trustworthy hands. Repeatedly we have seen how Charleston County is more than willing to allow if not promote development in what we thought were protected lands.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Yes, Paul, we fully agree. We do, however, recognize the pressures upon such small family businesses. We have found that the demands of taxes, operating expenses and increasing regulation are killing small family businesses. In addition, the following generation does not always want to follow in the same footsteps to that presents a second challenge. This does not bode well for the future.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Houston said...

This does not bode well for the future?

Just to stoke the fire here, who decided that small business is inherently better? I've worked in service industries all my life and have traveled the US quite extensively. More often than not, I've experienced better service, quality of product or work, selection, and prices in larger businesses (minus walmart) than in smaller. My only guess is there is more accountability.

SThe small businesses which I do see doing well for their customers face stiff competition and found a niche within their formerly wide market in order to survive - that has been the way across all history and across all the world if you look at a wider chunk of time. Why do people think history will somehow pass their little corner of the world by?

Create a brand around their particular product where people don't care about paying higher prices. Can the average small businessperson do it? Sure, but some small businesspeople don't want to. That is their choice, but also their loss.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Houston, we have a problem!

We seem to have failed to make our point with you. What's likely to come after LaRoche leaves the land is what concerns us. We're not suggesting this is the more efficient or profitable use of that space. In these little coastal villages it's either a development of resort castles or a commercial operation which changes the face of the community. It's not a market equation, but a simple quality of life issue. It's not an issue of who would be the better businessman, but who would be the better neighbor.

11:55 PM  

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