The owners of 382 acres in Port Royal have requested five more years to develop their property under an agreement with the town, citing the slow economy and uncertainty about future land-use rules.
Approved in 2001 and called the Trask Development Agreement because of the surnames of most of the owners, the original 10-year agreement includes land near Shell Point Elementary and by Robert Smalls Parkway. The agreement also includes an option for five-year extensions, with Town Council approval.
The land was part of the dozens of properties annexed into Port Royal in the early 2000s, according to town planner Linda Bridges. Only two significant residential developments have been built on the property: Ashton Point, completed in 2007 with 240 apartments; and Shadow Moss, begun in 2006 and moving forward in phases, Bridges said. She did not know how many homes have been completed in Shadow Moss.
But like many development projects in Beaufort County, the slow economy has delayed plans, the owners' lawyer, David Tedder, told the Town Council on Wednesday.
Harold Trask Jr., one of the owners, said a number of projects for the property would have been built if the economy had not tanked.
"Let us have that period of time we've lost to the economy," Tedder said.
Tedder said developers are also worried about plans to revamp town land-use regulations. Port Royal, in a partnership with Beaufort County, is moving away from traditional zoning and toward "form-based code," which is based more on buildings' appearance than their use.
Extending the development agreement would shelter developers from the uncertainty of what form-based code will mean for their projects, Tedder said.
"At this point, form-based code is such an uncertainty, no developer wants to buy property," he said.
In exchange for the agreement extension, developers have proposed incorporating additional standards and higher permit fees.
Fees for single-family homes would rise from $50 to $300 per home; condominiums and multifamily homes would increase from $50 to $250 per dwelling; and commercial space would rise from 15 cents to 50 cents per square foot.
The proposed extension would also require anything built within 500 feet of the Savannah Highway or Robert Smalls Parkway to face additional design standards and review.
The Town Council is set to hold a final vote Wednesday on the agreement.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnPortRoyal.