Proposed Campobello substation property now permanently protected from development

Published 10:00 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

Once the proposed site of a power substation, nearly 200 acres are now permanently protected.

Once the proposed site of a power substation, nearly 200 acres are now permanently protected.

Once proposed as the site of a power substation, nearly 200 scenic acres in northern Spartanburg County are now permanently protected, thanks to a partnership between Duke Energy, The Nature Conservancy and Upstate Forever. The 2015 powerline controversy ends with great victory for conservation.

TBP Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, has donated the property to The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which immediately signed a conservation easement with Upstate Forever to ensure the land will remain rural in perpetuity. As part of the agreement, TNC may subdivide the 198.54 acres into three homesites.

“This is a win-win,” said Mark Robertson, state director for The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina. “The rural character of Campobello will be maintained, while the resale of the property will generate needed funds to protect more land in the Upstate.”

The Campobello tract has traditionally been used as pastureland and includes about 770 feet of frontage along Scenic Highway 11 and 760 feet along Interstate 26. The property sits adjacent to Smith Chapel Baptist Church and cemetery, as well as the historic Smith Chapel Elementary School. Former slave John Henry “Buck” Smith founded the congregation circa 1900.

“By permanently protecting this property with a conservation easement, we preserve the scenic viewshed from Highway 11, I-26 and the church, minimize impervious surface to maintain water quality, and provide for the traditional agricultural and equestrian uses of the land,” said Scott Park, Upstate Forever Land Trust Program Director.

The property was originally acquired as part of a 2015 plan by Duke Energy to build a 40-mile long transmission line connecting a new natural gas plant in Asheville, N.C., to a new substation in Campobello. After thousands of citizens expressed opposition, the company found an alternative solution and cancelled the substation project.

“After receiving feedback from the community through our public input process, we revised our plan to strike the balance of addressing concerns from the public, minimizing environmental impact, and meeting the power generation needs of the area,” said Clark Gillespy, president of Duke Energy South Carolina. “We are pleased that the end result will be a benefit to the community.”

Upstate Forever is a land protection and advocacy organization that works to balance growth and protect the Upstate’s natural resources. The nonprofit group now permanently protects 109 properties totaling 20,438 acres across the Upstate through voluntary conservation agreements with landowners. Upstate Forever plans to commemorate the protection of this property with an event in early 2017.

Upstate Forever is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of the ten-county Upstate region of South Carolina. Founded in 1998, Upstate Forever now has nearly 2,000 members, two offices, and a staff of 18. For more information, visit upstateforever.org.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at nature.org/sc.

Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States, supplies and delivers electricity to approximately 7.4 million customers in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million people. The company also distributes natural gas to more than 1.5 million customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

– article submitted by Nancy Fitzer/Upstate Forever