The court-ordered mediation process begins today for stakeholders in the ongoing feud over The Beach Company's proposed redevelopment of the Sergeant Jasper property.
A pre-mediation meeting was held yesterday, and The Beach Company's president and CEO, John Darby, said his company will "make every effort to achieve a design that is both good for the city and economically feasible."
While the mediation process may determine the future of the Sergeant Jasper property, questions remain about the power of Charleston's Board of Architectural Review (BAR), which has rejected several of The Beach Company's concepts for the property.
At the heart of the company's legal appeal are assertions that the BAR, in essence, renders zoning laws moot and that the body's review process is "arbitrary and capricious."
In an interview with Palmetto Business Daily last week, Marc Scribner, a land use expert with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, warned about possible property rights infringements by the "unelected bureaucrats" at the BAR.
“The unelected bureaucrats on the Board of Architectural Review and nosy neighbors may have all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings about proposed real estate projects,” said Scribner. “But it is still unconstitutional to deny property owners their due process rights.”
While The Beach Company remains optimistic about the mediation process, Darby admits it will be a challenge.
"All stakeholders have previously stated their positions; some parties oppose any plan at all costs and in the past, some individuals wished to deny our property rights," said Darby in a statement released last night. "We hope that the parties present in mediation will make the most of this final opportunity to collaboratively determine the future of the Sergeant Jasper site."
Darby said that his company is prepared to hear Circuit Court Judge J. C. Nicholson, Jr.'s ruling if an agreed upon plan is not reached in mediation.
"We have options," said Darby. "It's been a long process, but now is the time to come to a resolution."