Healthy Eyes Are in Focus at the Eye Center of Charleston

Protect Your Eyes with Help from an Ophthalmologist in Pineville, SC

If there's one thing that most people can agree on, it's that our human senses are extraordinary. They help us interact with the environment around us every day of our lives. Our brain processes signals from various neurons associated with our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch to provide us with a meaningful perception of the world. The truth is, though, that we tend to take our senses for granted unless we experience a malfunction in any of them.

Humans have five senses and the same number of organs to complement those senses: a tongue to taste, a nose to smell, two ears to hear, skin for the sensation of touch, and eyes for sight. Of those senses and organs, our eyes are often considered the most essential, as they enable us to perceive up to 80% of all the impressions we encounter daily.

If other senses like taste or smell stop functioning, our eyes protect us from potential dangers. But they also help provide us with distinctly human memories. Think of all the picture-worthy moments that you have experienced over your lifetime. From seeing your baby smile or walk toward you for the first time to enjoying a memorable movie, it's safe to say that our eyes play an incredibly important role in our daily lives.

It makes sense, then, that we would want to protect our eyes and have them checked regularly to make sure they're healthy and functioning as they should. According to data by Ipsos, however, only 39% of Americans have been to an eye doctor's office in the last year. Fortunately, if you live in the Lowcountry, finding an eye doctor in Pineville, SC, is easier and more convenient than ever when you visit the professionals at Eye Center of Charleston.

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 Eye Surgeon Pineville, SC

The Eye Center of Charleston Difference

Unlike some eye doctor offices in South Carolina, our team uses the most advanced technology paired with our esteemed clinical and surgical skills to precisely diagnose and treat a wide variety of eye conditions and diseases. We focus on a number of vision conditions, medical conditions, and physician services, including but not limited to:

  • Cataracts
  • Presbyopia
  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Styes
  • Diabetic Eye Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Excisional Biopsies
  • Dry Eye Syndrome
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Flashes & Floaters

It all starts with an introductory appointment with one of our experienced eye doctors, who will take as much time as needed to get to know you, learn more about your needs, and better understand the symptoms you're experiencing. Once we know the extent of your eye care needs, our doctors will provide you with an effective, efficient diagnosis and plan of action to remediate any issues you're facing.

From nuanced eye surgeries to standard eye exams, we've got you covered. In fact, we offer the latest technology in Varilux Progressives, Transitions, Crizal Anti-Reflective Lenses, Prescription Polarized Sunglasses, and Thin Lightweight Lenses. With a wide selection of frames and sunglasses, you're sure to find the glasses you need in a style you love.

 Eye Doctor Pineville, SC

What is an Ophthalmologist in Pineville, SC?

When people think about eye doctors, they often think about professionals who conduct eye exams and prescribe contacts. They don't realize that an ophthalmologist is different than other professionals, like optometrists. So, what is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a vision health professional who plays a specific role in the field of eye care. Along with optometrists and opticians, they are part of a comprehensive eye care team. However, some patients may need clarification on the similar-sounding names of these three types of eye care providers. Each one has unique skills and training for the tasks they perform. You should understand these differences so you can choose the best professional to address your vision needs.

What are the Differences Between Ophthalmologists and Other Eye Care Specialists?

Opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists each have a separate role in the field of eye care.

 Eye Treatment Pineville, SC

Optometrists

These professionals conduct eye exams, vision tests, and can prescribe corrective lenses that help address and solve eye conditions.

 Eye Surgeon Pineville, SC

Opticians

Opticians are often labeled "eye doctors," but they focus mostly on filling prescriptions for contact lenses, glasses, and sunglasses. They're also experts at repairing glasses and adjusting frames as needed.

Ophthalmologist Pineville, SC

Ophthalmologists

These medical doctors treat and diagnose certain eye diseases. However, it's not uncommon for ophthalmologists to provide vision services similar to those of optometrists.

At Eye Center of Charleston, we offer patients all three eye care specialists to provide the most well-rounded, effective eye care services in Charleston and beyond.

Are Optometrists and Ophthalmologists Basically the Same?

While optometrists have a four-year Doctor of Optometry degree and can provide primary vision health care, ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have received approximately three times the education and training.

They can perform all the same services as an optometrist but can also provide treatment, including performing surgeries such as cataract removal, vision correction, and eyelid lifting. Optometrists may detect signs of eye diseases during routine eye exams but are unable to treat them, so they often refer patients to ophthalmologists at The Eye Center of Charleston.

Surgical Specialties at The Eye Center of Charleston

While we serve many different types of patients with a wide variety of needs, many clients visit our eye surgeon in Pineville, SC, for very specific procedures. Keep reading below to learn more about those surgeries and the conditions that necessitate an eye doctor's intervention.

While we serve many different types of patients with a wide variety of needs, many clients visit our eye surgeon in Pineville, SC, for very specific procedures. Keep reading below to learn more about those surgeries and the conditions that necessitate an eye doctor's intervention.

In a young and healthy eye, light passes smoothly through clear ocular structures and is then focused on the retina, the light-sensitive lining inside the eye. The lens, which is a slightly flattened marble-shaped structure, helps to focus the eye. If the lens becomes cloudy, yellow, or limits the amount of light that travels through it, it is known as a cataract. Cataracts can occur at any stage of life, from birth to old age.

Some of the most common symptoms of cataracts include the following:

  • Blurry or Dim Vision
  • Lights Are Too Bright
  • Lights Give Off Halo Effect
  • Faded Colors
  • Vision at Night is Poor
  • Vision Distortion

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause damage to the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye, leading to possible vision loss. Therefore, the primary focus of treatment is to control eye pressure. Early intervention is crucial in preventing severe vision loss. While most patients can avoid severe vision loss with the use of topical eye drops, some require additional treatment.

It should be noted that some patients prefer to have less dependence on eye drops. Along with medical treatment, several safe and effective procedures are available, including laser trabeculoplasty and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery. To learn more about these treatment options, talk to your eye doctor at The Eye Center of Charleston.

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual information from your eye to your brain and is essential for good vision. While high pressure in your eye is often associated with optic nerve damage, glaucoma can occur even with normal eye pressure.

Although glaucoma can happen at any age, it is more prevalent in older adults and is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. Unfortunately, many forms of glaucoma produce no warning signs. The effect of the condition is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the later stages of the disease.

That's why it's essential to have regular eye exams that include measuring your eye pressure. Early recognition of glaucoma is a very important part of that process because it can help slow down or prevent vision loss. If you have glaucoma, you will need to undergo treatment or monitoring for the rest of your life.

Some of the most common symptoms of glaucoma include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Eye Pressure & Pain
  • Low, Blurred, or Narrow Vision
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Nausea
  • Seeing Rainbow-Colored Haloes Around Light Sources

A pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that appears on the surface of the eye, causing blurry vision. It usually occurs in individuals who have a long history of exposure to sunlight or UV light. Should you need pterygium surgery at The Eye Center of Charleston, you can rest easy knowing that your eye doctor in Pineville, SC, will be highly trained and experienced in the surgical treatment of pterygia.

Also called surfer's eye, a pterygium is an overgrowth of the conjunctiva, which is a thin and clear membrane on the surface of the eye. It can appear as a fleshy growth and is usually found growing from the inner corner of the eye, close to the nose. However, it can also appear on the outer corner or on both sides of the eye. The condition is not cancerous and does not spread to any other part of the face or body. It can cause redness and irritation in the affected area.

If left untreated, a pterygium can grow across the cornea, which is the transparent 'window' that covers the pupil and iris, further impacting vision. In such cases, surgical treatment may be necessary. However, it's important to note that pterygia may grow back even after successful surgery.

Some symptoms of a pterygium include the following:

  • Itching & Burning
  • Inflammation & Bloodshot Eyes
  • Minor Eye Pain
  • Issues with Blocked Vision

How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes

If you have diabetes, you may be wondering if the disease can affect your eyes and whether or not an ophthalmologist in Pineville, SC can help. To provide the best answer, it's important that you understand how diabetes can affect your eyesight.

Diabetes is a condition in which your body fails to properly convert food into energy. This is because your body either cannot produce or does not respond to insulin, which is a hormone responsible for transporting glucose (blood sugar) to the cells in your body. When there is an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, it can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves throughout your body, including the eyes.

Understanding Diabetic Eye Disease

When we refer to diabetic eye disease, we're talking about a group of eye conditions that stem from diabetes. Those conditions include the following:

3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Eyes Everyday

Eye problems can be easily prevented if you adopt some easy-to-follow habits for eye care in your daily routine. Even though these habits are practical and easy to accomplish, many people brush them off - until they have serious eye problems. To maintain good eye health and sharp vision, try incorporating these eye care techniques into your daily routine.

Eye Center of Charleston Pro Tip

Swing by one of our eye clinics to see our selection of fashionable and chic sunglasses. Our licensed opticians keep a number of popular sunglass options available at all times, like Costa, Kate Spade, and Juicy Couture. Protect your eyes and look great at the same time!

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Use Protection from the Sun

It's important to be mindful of the potential risks associated with exposure to sunlight and UV rays. These hazards include an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, as well as the possibility of cornea sunburn or photokeratitis. To protect your eyes, try wearing sunglasses that have UV protection. If you don't like wearing sunglasses, you can opt for UV-protected eyeglasses or contact lenses instead. You can also try wearing caps, visors, and hats for added protection.

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Try Not to Rub Your Eyes

One of life's little pleasures is rubbing your eyes when you're tired or have had a long day. It may feel good, but we don't recommend doing it. Reason being, your hands come into contact with a great deal of dirt, dust, and bacteria on a daily basis.

Every time you touch or rub your eyes, these harmful particles can be easily transferred to them. If you avoid touching your eyes with your hands, you can better prevent infections and irritations.

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Try the 20-20-20 Rule of Thumb

To keep your eyes in the best shape possible, consider adopting this handy rule. It states that:

  • Look away from your computer screen or TV every 20 minutes and fixate your gaze on something that is 20 feet away.
  • Blink your eyes 20 times in succession. This helps prevent dry eyes.
  • Get up out of your seat or away from your desk every 20 minutes. Then, take 20 steps. Doing so helps you vision and also helps promote healthy blood circulation and posture.

See a Brighter Future with Help from An Eye Doctor in Pineville, SC

At The Eye Center of Charleston, we're proud to offer a breadth of eye care services under one roof tailored to you and your whole family. From pediatric myopia management and treatment for dry eye to popular eyewear options and complicated eye surgery, we're ready to help. Regardless of the reason why you visit our eye care office, you can have peace of mind knowing that your patient experience will be comfortably curated for you.

Contact our eye care center today to learn more about our practice and to schedule an initial consultation with one of our expert eye doctors.

Free Consultation

Latest News in Pineville, SC

Pineville Town Council approves controversial substation near NC-SC line in tight vote

In a special meeting Monday that lasted less than five minutes, the Pineville Town Council narrowly approved a controversial plan for a new electric substation near a large subdivision.The council voted 3-2 to back a city plan to buy about an acre at the intersection of Miller Road and Greenway Drive for the substation and gave city staff approval to negotiate for the land in question as well as condemn it if needed. The property is owned by the family that runs Miller’s Flea Market on the land.Town leaders say the substa...

In a special meeting Monday that lasted less than five minutes, the Pineville Town Council narrowly approved a controversial plan for a new electric substation near a large subdivision.

The council voted 3-2 to back a city plan to buy about an acre at the intersection of Miller Road and Greenway Drive for the substation and gave city staff approval to negotiate for the land in question as well as condemn it if needed. The property is owned by the family that runs Miller’s Flea Market on the land.

Town leaders say the substation is critical to keeping up with demand for utilities in the growing Charlotte-area community and that the site in question was the most feasible option out multiple sites considered.

But residents of the nearby McCollough neighborhood have expressed concerns since they first heard of Pineville’s plan in December, saying they think it could drag down their property values and negatively impact health, safety and local businesses. At a public meeting in January, some residents questioned why town leadership hadn’t considered future infrastructure needs more when deciding on development deals.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Samaha and Council member Danielle Moore voted against the measures Monday. Council members Amelia Stinson-Wesley and Chris McDonough voted for them.

That left Mayor David Phillips to cast two tie-breaking “yes” votes.

“It was, in my opinion, just the smartest decision to make at this particular time,” he told The Charlotte Observer after the meeting. “It’s not anything that I’m happy about, but, you know, sometimes you have to make decisions that are best for the town.”

As residents filed out of the brief meeting at the Pineville Town Hall, some shouted their displeasure at town leaders.

“We can’t wait for the next election,” one person said.

Plans for the new substation site came out in December, when the town sent out a news release saying it was working to buy about an acre at the intersection of Miller Road and Greenway Drive for a new substation to accommodate growth in the area and “serve as a back-up source to an existing substation.” The town picked the site because it was the “most economical and least obtrusive to the community.” The substation would be enclosed by a brick wall with plants around the outside, the release said.

That release immediately sparked a reaction among neighbors, who expressed concerns about the potential impacts on their health, safety and property values and launched a petition in opposition to the plan.

More than 100 people attended a January public meeting about the proposal.

McCollough resident Jarred Muraco said at Monday’s vote he got involved in the opposition in December.

“I just don’t think it’s the best use of anybody’s time or money to do this,” he said.

Muraco questioned whether town leaders have been honest about the funding for the project and said he shares some of the concerns about health impacts and property values other residents brought up.

“The health concern is an issue. It’s unsightly,” he said.

Some residents have said they’re worried electromagnetic fields from the substation could lead to health problems, particularly in children or elderly people. Town leaders have pushed back on those claims in meetings on the plan.

Experts say there’s not a clear-cut connection between exposure to electromagnetic fields and health issues.

“The possible link between electromagnetic fields and cancer has been a subject of controversy for several decades,” the American Cancer Society says, because “it’s not clear exactly how electromagnetic fields, a form of low-energy, non-ionizing radiation, could increase cancer risk.”

While the World Health Organization “classifies extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans,”the Environmental Protection Agency notes that “scientific studies have not consistently shown whether exposure to any source of EMF increases cancer risk.”

McCollough resident Sean Price said the situation has him questioning how the town’s electric fund is managed.

“They are the stewards of this community as elected officials with the obligation to serve their community,” he said. “I hope they will look in the mirror and use the alternative solution that the people of this community demand.”

I-Chin Lin, another McCullough resident who first shared her thoughts on the project with the Observer in December, said Monday’s vote left her “disappointed.”

“They did not do their due diligence,” she said. “And now they are asking us residents to pay for their oversight. This is unacceptable.”

The town picked its top choice from 10 locations, town manager Ryan Spitzer and David Lucore, Pineville’s electric services manager and a systems manager for ElectriCities of North Carolina, said at the January meeting.

Complications with the other sites included proximity to floodplains and wetlands and distance from usable transmission lines.

“There’s not a whole lot of options,” Lucore said at the time.

Pineville Electric, which provides electric services in the town, is a public provider that’s part of ElectriCities, which provides services to member organizations. Public power providers differ from utility companies such as Duke Energy because they are part of local governments and often part of membership organizations such as ElectriCities.

Time is of the essence for the project, according to town leaders, because growth in Pineville means the town’s current electric grid is close to being overtaxed, which could lead to power outages. Pineville’s population grew from 7,479 to 10,602 from 2010 to 2020, according to Census data. The town’s 2022 population estimate, the most recent Census data available, puts Pineville at 10,886 residents.

The new substation project would need to be completed by the end of 2025 to avoid issues, Lucore said in January.

Multiple residents at the January meeting questioned why more consideration wasn’t given to one of the other 10 sites. That site is near the one approved Monday but further from the subdivision. It would cost about $1 million more than the currently chosen site, Lucore said previously, an expense that could be passed on to consumers through higher rates. But some at the meeting said they’d be willing to take on a slightly higher electric bill to pay that higher cost.

Both parcels in question are owned by the Miller family. Spitzer indicated at the January meeting that the Millers, through their attorney, have been resistant to sell either plot. But members of the family in attendance at that meeting and their representatives spoke up to say they’d be more open to selling the other land than the controversial site.

Spitzer said after Monday’s vote that the town attorney will file paperwork to send letters to the affected property owners, and they’ll have at least 30 days to respond. Asked whether he thought the town could still negotiate a deal for the land rather than condemn it, Spitzer said “that’s always the favorable outcome.”

Phillips said that town staff have been working to put together a plan “for a couple of years” but ultimately a decision had to be made.

“We’re on a pretty solid timeline that we have to meet,” he said.

Phillips added that he campaigned on fiscal responsibility and feels that the site that was chosen is the most economical for the town.

“At the end of the day, we have a budget we need to follow, and we need to try to have funding available for other stuff we need to do,” he said.

Despite the vocal opposition to the plan, not every resident at Monday’s meeting disagreed with the vote.

Laura Stout and Debby Brown said they’ve both lived close to Pineville’s existing substation for years and never had any issues.

“It’s a hard situation to deal with. But you have to do the lesser of the two evils, I guess,” Brown said.

Stout said she’s attended Town Council meetings for years as the community has grown, and she wishes elected officials had done more to prepare for the challenges that come with development and growth.

“The rapid growth in Pineville has been something that has concerned me and many residents for many years. And we have raised that alarm for many years with the previous council that things needed to slow down because we didn’t have the infrastructure in place to handle it,” she said. “And now that has caught up to us. And if something is not done, we’re going to lose power, and obviously nobody wants that.”

Want more coverage of Charlotte-area government and politics? Subscribe here for free to the Observer’s weekly CLT Politics newsletter and never miss a story

This story was originally published March 25, 2024, 9:30 PM.

Mary Ramsey is the local government accountability reporter for The Charlotte Observer. A native of the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

Son hoping for safe return in July 2022 disappearance of South Carolina woman Ruth Jenkins

“We are still waiting on her to come home,” Robert Jenkins Jr. told Dateline.Robert’s mother, Ruth Jenkins, has been missing for a year and a half. The 76-year-old was last seen on July 16, 2022.Robert told Dateline that their family is from Pineville, South Carolina. “Pineville is a very slow” and quiet town, he said.The slow pace didn’t stop Ruth from making life interesting for her children. “We had this family thing that we would do,” Robert remembered. “We [would...

“We are still waiting on her to come home,” Robert Jenkins Jr. told Dateline.

Robert’s mother, Ruth Jenkins, has been missing for a year and a half. The 76-year-old was last seen on July 16, 2022.

Robert told Dateline that their family is from Pineville, South Carolina. “Pineville is a very slow” and quiet town, he said.

The slow pace didn’t stop Ruth from making life interesting for her children. “We had this family thing that we would do,” Robert remembered. “We [would] all do impromptu, funny type of songs with makeshift instruments, you know, like pencils and books and stuff. We were just very spontaneous like that.”

Robert, who’s the eldest of five, told Dateline his mother is very loving. “She’s very outgoing, very funny, she has a lot of humor,” he said. “Very Christian, God-fearing woman.”

Robert said he last spoke to his mother on July 15, 2022. He and his wife had flown from Texas, where they live, to visit Ruth. Ruth lives with one of her sons, Rastrado, who was out of town that weekend.

“I had made a trip there just to check on her,” Robert said, adding that his mother needed help with her finances. “So I went there with a plan, you know, check on her finances and just get her checked out and everything like that.”

Robert said that he learned during that trip that his mother had been suffering from dementia. “That kind of explained some of the things that she did,” he said. “Some of the repetitiveness, the memory… with different things.”

Robert said that on Friday, July 15, he was helping his mother set up medications at her house, when her dog accidentally ran out of the home. “She had realized that the dog had got out and, like, ran away,” he said. “She was bothered by that. She was pretty upset… so that evening is how this event started.”

“My brother had called me and let me know that my mother, being so concerned, she had driven to herself to the next town called Monck’s Corner,” Robert said. “Apparently she went to check, like, shelters or something like that.”

Robert told Dateline that his mother eventually ended up at Walmart. “But when she came back out, she couldn’t access her car,” he said. "Turns out, there was another car that is identically the same car as her car.”

A family member then went to pick up Ruth at the Walmart, took her car keys, and brought her home. “The 16th -- that morning -- she got up looking for her keys,” Robert said. “She started on her regular walking route… during that route, she met some of the people in the community and she asked for them to, like, ‘Hey, could you, uh, could you help me? Could you pray with me so I can help find my keys?'”

Robert told Dateline that a neighbor’s Ring camera captured his mother walking around 11 a.m. He said Ruth asked the neighbor if they had found her keys, as well. “The person was talking to my mother through the Ring camera letting her, you know, ‘I don’t have your keys, ma’am.’”

Then Ruth walked inside a different neighbor’s house. “They were startled that she was in the house. And that, uh, seemed very unlike her, because my mother just wouldn’t go into somebody’s house. So I imagine that was maybe the panic and the dementia,” Robert said. “All I know is that she wound up leaving there and that’s when they didn’t see her again.”

In fact, that was the last time Ruth was seen at all.

Robert and his wife had been staying in Charleston while they were visiting and were at lunch when he got a call from Rastrado telling him that he believed their mother was missing. “So we took him seriously,” Robert said, adding that they immediately made the one-hour trip back to Pineville.

“Police were already there, and they got our statements,” he said. The next day, there was “a massive amount of people that turned out to help look. It was the volunteer fire department, police department, family, people in the -- in the community. It was a massive, massive search on foot. So this search continued that heavy for about two to three days.”

But there was no sign of Ruth.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Ruth’s disappearance. According to their release, Ruth was last seen “on 7/16 at approximately 2PM. She was last seen walking in the 1800 block of Highway 45 in the Pineville area of Berkeley County.”

The release also noted that Ruth has dementia and is known to wander.

Dateline reached out to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Department for an update on the case but has yet to receive a response.

Robert told Dateline that he’s holding out hope that his mother is still out there somewhere. “We pray and we hope that she is,” he said. “We love her, and we can’t wait to see her again.”

On November 27, 2022, Ruth’s 77th birthday, the family held a balloon release in her honor. “It was pretty… it was beautiful,” he said.

Ruth is between 5’4” and 5’6” tall and weighs around 125 lbs. She wears glasses and was last seen wearing jeans and a white T-shirt.

Anyone with information about Ruth’s disappearance is asked to call the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office at 843-719-4412.

Kyani Reid

New 3-mile stretch of Little Sugar Creek Greenway now open

You can now travel from the North Carolina-South Carolina state line toward Uptown using the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.Driving the news: A ...

You can now travel from the North Carolina-South Carolina state line toward Uptown using the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Driving the news: A new stretch of the greenway spanning nearly three miles from Pineville to the South Carolina state line is officially open.

Why it matters: The project gives residents lots of space to explore the outdoors. It also provides an alternate means of travel for cyclists and runners looking to avoid congested streets.

Details: The new section runs from the President James K. Polk State Historic Site (12031 Lancaster Hwy in Pineville) to Gilroy Drive in Lancaster County, S.C.

Public access points with parking include the Polk site and Pineville Lake Park/Belle Johnston Center 330 Lake Dr. and 12021 Lancaster Hwy. There are a few parking spots at the Gilroy Drive trailhead in South Carolina.

Of note: You can park just north of the new segment at 9800 Leitner Dr. in Pineville.

Bonus: The new section is far from entirely flat. If you’re looking for a decent incline, you’ll find a few spots as you get closer to South Carolina.

What’s next: Expect to see more greenways throughout the region.

Go deeper: How to bike from Elizabeth to Pineville on Charlotte’s greenways

Note: We first published this story in March 2023. We updated it June 1, 2023.

Substation frustration: Residents pushing back against plans along state line

FORT MILL, S.C. — A proposed substation for an empty space in Pineville is causing a stir across the state line.A company wants to build the substation right in the backyard of a Fort Mill neighborhood, between Miller Road and Greenway Drive. Homeowners told Channel 9 they had no warning and feel that their voices aren’t being heard.Pink markers mark where that substation would start. A majority of it would take up a parking lot at the nearby Miller’s Flea Market....

FORT MILL, S.C. — A proposed substation for an empty space in Pineville is causing a stir across the state line.

A company wants to build the substation right in the backyard of a Fort Mill neighborhood, between Miller Road and Greenway Drive. Homeowners told Channel 9 they had no warning and feel that their voices aren’t being heard.

Pink markers mark where that substation would start. A majority of it would take up a parking lot at the nearby Miller’s Flea Market.

9 INVESTIGATES: Power Grid Security

The owner of the flea market said he’s against the project and they’ll have to use eminent domain to get this land. He’s not alone in his opposition.

“We’ve built a little slice of paradise back here,” homeowner Gui Batista said.

Batista and his wife live in the McCullough neighborhood, a community that’s partly in North Carolina and partly in South Carolina. Their house is in an unincorporated part of Fort Mill.

“As you can imagine, very, very close,” he said.

But just past their back fence is Pineville, a town that wants to build a substation just feet from Batista’s backyard.

“We just found out about it 48 hours ago,” Bastista said.

ALSO READ: Deputies investigating after car crashes into nuclear station in South Carolina

David Lucore is with ElectriCities of North Carolina, which is recommending the substation location.

“It’s got to be out of a flood plain, not in a wetland. There needs to be no environmental concerns, it needs to be fairly flat and affordable,” he explained.

Lucore said the Pineville spot meets all of that. The plan would be to buy about an acre of the parking lot from the Miller’s Flea Market. The market would be on one side of the substation and the neighborhood would be on the other.

“This is impacting us more than anyone else,” Batista said.

Batista and other neighbors have several concerns about the potential impact to property values, health, and safety, especially in light of recent threats towards substations across the country.

“This is where we hang out for the majority of our time in the summers, and I don’t want to worry about a stray bullet hitting my daughter’s room,” Batista said.

ALSO READ: 9 Investigates: Testing NC power grid security after recent attacks

Lucore said the substation would be surrounded by a concrete wall.

“Which will provide some extra security for those kind of incidents,” he said.

But the biggest frustration from residents is the lack of communication.

“They’re saying well we’ll put it here in the corner where it won’t impact Pineville residents who can vote for us, it’ll only impact Fort Mill residents who we don’t really have to listen to,” Batista said.

Lucore admits nobody was warned about this until this week. He said that’s because they were doing their due diligence.

Pineville will have a meeting about the plans on Jan. 4 and could vote on it in February.

(WATCH BELOW: Residents, officials look back at Moore Co. substation attacks after one year; still no suspects)

Residents, officials look back at Moore Co. substation attacks after one year; still no suspects

‘We heard your questions:’ Residents voice concerns about site for Pineville substation

Residents of a Charlotte-area neighborhood continued to raise questions and concerns about a potential electric substation in their backyards at a community meeting Thursday night.Officials in Pineville say it’s a necessary project to keep the lights on as the community grows. But residents of the McCollough neighborhood — which stretches from the town across the state line into Fort Mill, South Carolina — are worried about the impacts on their property values, safety and health.And on Thursday, some asked why...

Residents of a Charlotte-area neighborhood continued to raise questions and concerns about a potential electric substation in their backyards at a community meeting Thursday night.

Officials in Pineville say it’s a necessary project to keep the lights on as the community grows. But residents of the McCollough neighborhood — which stretches from the town across the state line into Fort Mill, South Carolina — are worried about the impacts on their property values, safety and health.

And on Thursday, some asked why the town hadn’t considered future infrastructure needs more when deciding on past development deals.

“All we’re asking you all to do with this project is take a step back, do the due diligence and explore a myriad of options so that we can find the best suitable location,” one attendee said.

McCollough residents raised concerns about the project when they first heard about it in early December.

Pineville is working to buy about an acre at the intersection of Miller Road and Greenway Drive for a new electric substation to accommodate growth in the area and “serve as a back-up source to an existing substation,” the town said in a Dec. 5 news release. The town picked the site because it was the “most economical and least obtrusive to the community,” and the substation would be enclosed by a brick wall with plants around the outside, according to the news release.

The town initially thought they’d have till 2026 or 2027 to get another substation online, officials said at Thursday’s meeting, but accelerated growth moved up that timeline. Pineville’s population grew from 7,479 to 10,602 from 2010 to 2020, according to Census data. The town’s 2022 population estimate, the most recent Census data available, puts Pineville at 10,886 residents.

The project would need to be completed by the end of 2025 to avoid issues, David Lucore, Pineville’s electric services manager and a systems manager for ElectriCities of North Carolina, said.

Pineville Electric, which provides electric services in the town, is a public provider that’s part of ElectriCities, which provides services to member organizations. Public power providers differ from utility companies such as Duke Energy because they are part of local governments and often part of membership organizations such as ElectriCities.

The town picked the site out of 10 locations that were examined, town manager Ryan Spitzer and Lucore told the crowd Thursday.

Complications with the other sites included proximity to floodplains and wetlands and distance from usable transmission lines.

“There’s not a whole lot of options,” Lucore said.

Town staff will present more details to the Town Council at its Jan. 22 work session, and a public hearing will be held at the Town Council meeting on Feb. 13. It’s likely the council won’t vote on the issue until their March meeting, according to Spitzer.

It’s estimated the project will cost more than $5 million, and it would be paid for by electric revenues rather than tax dollars.

Although Spitzer and Lucore outlined why town staff are currently leaning toward the site neighbors don’t want, both stressed that “no decisions have been made.”

“We heard your questions,” Spitzer told the crowd of more than 100 Thursday night.

One top concern: the potential impact of electromagnetic fields emanating from the substation on residents’ health. Lucore, citing studies shared by the World Health Organization, said he’s found no conclusive evidence of such a threat from the levels that could be found at the site.

Experts say there’s not a clear-cut connection between exposure to electromagnetic fields and health issues.

“The possible link between electromagnetic fields and cancer has been a subject of controversy for several decades,” the American Cancer Society says, because “it’s not clear exactly how electromagnetic fields, a form of low-energy, non-ionizing radiation, could increase cancer risk.”

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that, while the World Health Organization “classifies extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans,” “scientific studies have not consistently shown whether exposure to any source of EMF increases cancer risk.”

Some residents also shared concerns about safety in the wake of an attack on another North Carolina substation that drew attention nationwide. In December 2022, about 45,000 homes and businesses in Moore County lost power for days after an attack on an electrical substation.

Lucore pledged that if the project moves forward it will be better protected than most substations in the country.

“We’re going to put in as much security as we’re capable of putting in,” he said.

Realtor Sean McGovern also spoke at Thursday’s meeting about the potential impact of the project of property values. Homes in the neighborhood “tend to range from around $390,000 to about $765,000,” according to Charlotte-based Terra Vista Realty.

McGovern, who said he’s also a McCollough resident and has his own issues with the plan, acknowledged that there’s “potential for decrease in value” but that the long-term impacts on real estate are “tough to say.”

McCollough resident Jen Kennedy, who was chosen to speak on behalf of the neighborhood at Thursday’s meeting, said she and her neighbors appreciated town officials putting the event together.

“You shared a lot this evening, and we do feel that we have a better understanding,” she said.

But, she added, “we do still believe that we are just started scratching the surface of understanding this process … we still have unanswered questions.”

“We believe that it is the responsibility of the town, and especially our elected officials, to provide us with all the information and allow our voice to be heard first and foremost before a decision of this magnitude is made,” she said.

Multiple residents at the meeting questioned why more consideration hasn’t been given to one of the other 10 sites that was examined.

That site is near the controversial site but further from the subdivision. It would cost about $1 million more than the currently chosen site, Lucore said, an expense that could be passed on to consumers through higher rates. But some at the meeting said they’d be willing to take on a slightly higher electric bill to pay that higher cost.

Both parcels in question are owned by the same family, who own and run Miller’s Flea Market on the land.

Spitzer indicated that the Miller family, through their attorney, have been resistant to sell either plot. But members of the family in attendance Thursday and their representatives spoke up to say they’d be more open to selling the other land than the controversial site.

They’re concerned about the impact of the project on their business, including a loss of more than 100 parking spaces, they said.

If the Millers continue their opposition to a sale, “there are other options the town has,” Spitzer said.

That comment drew ire from the crowd, including concern about the potential use of eminent domain. Multiple attendees continued to question why town leaders didn’t think ahead more about future infrastructure needs when considering developments and why the community wasn’t informed about the substation earlier.

Some accused Spitzer of trying to take “the easy route” on the project.

“If I was taking the easy route on this, we wouldn’t be having this meeting,” Spitzer said.

This story was originally published January 4, 2024, 11:10 PM.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct a quote from David Lucore, Pineville’s electric services manager. Lucore said a newly proposed substation would be better protected than most substations in the country.

Corrected Jan 6, 2024

Mary Ramsey is the local government accountability reporter for The Charlotte Observer. A native of the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

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