“If we don’t acquire this, it will end up being developed pretty intensively. And God’s not making any more coastal real estate.” – Sen. Chip Campsen.

COLUMBIA — South Carolina lawmakers are poised to buy a 23-acre property on James Island that has operated as a Catholic convent for decades, saying it’s a rare chance to preserve a pristine plot right on Charleston Harbor.

The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a budget proposal June 2 that includes $23.25 million to buy waterfront property owned by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy — an isolated plot nestled between the water and surrounding suburban housing.

The land includes 750 feet of coastline, a chapel and dorms for the nuns, said Rep. Phillip Lowe, R-Florence, who made the proposal as subcommittee chairman for the Department of Natural Resources’ budget.

“There are 23 acres of pristine land, the most beautiful scenery there, with trees overlooking the harbor,” said Lowe, who toured the property last month.

“This is good news for South Carolina,” he added. “As fast as we’re growing, we need to preserve things in Charleston and those heavy-growth areas, and this is the last place I could find on the harbor.”

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photo credit: Brad Nettles/ bnettles@podtandcourier.com