New construction raises concerns in Sun City

gmartin@islandpacket.comOctober 14, 2011 

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In one Sun City Hilton Head neighborhood, the houses are so uniformly designed as to appear almost indistinguishable.

Almost.

So when new homes started appearing on an undeveloped strip of Mystic Point Road that were conspicuously smaller than others in the Foxlake neighborhood, Mike Clemens couldn't help but notice.

"See how the design is different?" he asked, pointing to the two new houses on his street. "There aren't even going to be any windows on that side of the house."

The houses -- little more than blue plastic construction tarp wrapped around a wooden frame at this point -- are still a few months from completion, but they're already a source of irritation for Clemens and his neighbors.

"We feel dumped upon and wronged" by the unannounced new construction, Clemens said.

The problem, he says, pertains to the strictly regimented planning guidelines for Sun City neighborhoods. Before the new arrivals, every home in Foxlake incorporated one of three floor plans offered by Pulte, the retirement community's developer.

The three plans, ranging from 1,244- to 1,414-square-foot homes, comprise Pulte's "Jasmine Collection," which Clemens understood to be the only models allowed in Foxlake.

He produced a map of Sun City he received upon moving in last February, with each neighborhood color-coded to correspond with its designated collection of homes to be constructed. All of the Foxlake property was slated for development exclusively with the Jasmine Collection.

Some other neighbors share Clemens' concerns, fearing the new homes -- to be between 900 and 1,000 square feet -- will drive down their properties' value.

"We feel like it's just not right, and that we should have been considered," said Foxlake resident Andy Neely. "We must be the stepchildren."

"I'd build all the new smaller homes in one place," suggested neighbor Jim Sgueglia, "and call it Foxpond."

Such concerns are without merit, said Will Cutler, president of Pulte's Coastal Carolinas Division. Cutler said the construction's intent is to inject some diversity of design into Foxlake to promote growth.

"It will be better to have some variety and some new life opportunities for future homeowners," Cutler said. "We're trying to keep things fresh and progress Sun City in the right direction."

Cutler also dismissed claims that the smaller houses aren't authorized for development in Foxlake, saying, "They're part of the same overall portfolio."

Clemens concedes that Foxlake isn't very crowded right now, estimating its year-round occupancy at 30 percent. But he doesn't think building empty new homes is the best way to address that.

"I don't think anyone knew they were coming," Clemens said.

Follow reporter Grant Martin at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

Related content: Sun City Hilton Head

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