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Seabrook Man: On A Mission To Bring Business To Impoverished Area

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The battle between a jellyfish processing company and a coalition of neighbors and business owners against the company wages on.

The coalition behind Stopthejellyballs.com plans to meet this Sunday to discuss a plan of action against the company, Carolina Jelly Balls.

Meanwhile, Carolina Jelly Balls is still pursuing approvals to be housed in a vacant Seabrook warehouse. There, they hope to process jellyfish to ship to Asia, where they are a popular food.

CEO Steve Giese hopes to be in business in that Seabrook location by this June.

While some neighbors are against the business, some are hoping to land jobs there. Others just hope any business can move into the property on John Meeks Road in Seabrook, and clean it up.

"The site continues to just fester in the community. Currently, it's just a rubble field with contaminated waters, large ponds, and drainage problems," says James O'Neil.

O'Neil lives on Brown's Island nearby. He is on a mission to land a business in the empty facility, to clean up the area and revitalize the community.

"My goal is to bring visibility to it, and to help the community find a pathway to make it a useful piece of ground for a park," O'Neil says.

He is hoping for an industrial park. The first company to eye the spot recently was Carolina Jelly Balls.

In an open forum meeting, O'Neil moderated the discussion between the company and neighbors.

The environmental impact of the jellyfish company's discharge into surrounding waters was a topic neighbors there found themselves concerned with.

"We depend on clean water to grow our oysters, up alongside the ACE basin here. All those PCBs, all that plough mud, all that junk is going to be coming down that creek and into the Whale Branch River. It could crash that creek," Frank Roberts of Lady's Island Oysters says.

The company is currently awaiting wastewater licenses from the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control. However the company believes their discharge will be harmless, and the economic benefits for Beaufort County will be huge.

Still, O'Neil says filling the warehouse should be the focus, even if it's a company other than Carolina Jelly Balls.

"I think any industry has got an opportunity to come here and prove itself. We can't afford to turn industries down, but we have to find the right industries that fit into the environment," O'Neil says.

He won't stop his campaign to fill the void of business in Seabrook until the warehouse is occupied.

Stopthejellyballs.com will meet Sunday in Beaufort at 2 p.m. at The Old Bull Tavern.

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