Only plan guaranteed to fail is absence of a plan

April 29, 2011 

Historic Beaufort Foundation has been and continues to be deeply interested in the city of Beaufort's efforts to implement its comprehensive plan. The potential of that effort could be wonderful, as long as it retains what makes Beaufort really distinctive -- a historic town in the 21st century. After all, we know from the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's survey results that what separates Beaufort from other pretty towns is Beaufort's history and the degree to which its homes and buildings reflect that history.

Accordingly, Historic Beaufort Foundation members, staff and trustees have attended the gatherings of the city's new Office of Civic Investment from its inception. We have been impressed by the sincerity of the group of consultants in asking for and listening to input from our fellow residents.

We have been impressed by the degree of respect that office, especially Josh Martin, Lauren Kelly and Naomi Leeman, hold for the 304-acre National Historic Landmark District and the many treasures therein.

Together, we have been in dialogue with the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior (the bestowers of National Landmark status). We have been impressed by the creative work being done by the Office of Civic Investment to design ways in which Beaufort can and should grow -- especially concerning the University of South Carolina Beaufort campus.

If we, as residents, do not participate, we give up our right to complain about the result. So my core purpose is to urge you to make time to attend the Office of Civic Investment gatherings, especially when it is studying and reviewing and making drawings about your area.

Log onto the city's website and find out what they are doing, as well as when and where.

Some questions have been raised about the future role of the Historic District Review Board. It seems that some people wrongly believe that the implementation of form-based codes will do away with the need for this city regulatory board of volunteers. Let me be clear: the Historic Beaufort Foundation believes in the goals and public charter of the Historic District Review Board, and in the event that an effort is made to eliminate or curtail it, Historic Beaufort Foundation will be asking for support to retain and perhaps enhance its role. The board is, after all, the arbiter of what is an appropriate fix, repair or expansion of homes in the Historic Landmark District. Indeed, the concept of a review board with regulatory authority is implicit in the National Historic Landmark Designation.

The Historic Beaufort Foundation is paying close attention to the work of the Office of Civic Investment. We hold them in high regard and deep respect. But we should all remain vigilant to assist them to do right by our town.

Pete Palmer is chairman of the Historic Beaufort Foundation.

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