Bluffton Planning Commission to reconsider Old Carolina Shopping Center proposal

gmartin@islandpacket.comFebruary 20, 2012 

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Developers who want to build a commercial center near the intersection of Buck Island Road and the Bluffton Parkway are seeking to rezone a 23-acre parcel.

Michael Kronimus of KRA Inc., a Bluffton-based architectural firm, will make the request Wednesday at the town Planning Commission's monthly meeting.

The land, at the intersection's northeast corner, is zoned now for residential development. The proposal would establish a planned-unit development that would accommodate both commercial and residential properties.

It's not the first time the developers have tried to have the land rezoned.

Owner Wilbert Roller of Hilton Head Island tried unsuccessfully in 2006 and 2008 to get approval for his plans to build Old Carolina Shopping Center.

Roller partnered with Kronimus on the 2008 proposal -- involving a 103,000-square foot commercial area -- as well. Attempts Monday to reach both men were unsuccessful.

The application also names Port Royal-based Ward Edwards, a civil engineering firm, as part of the proposal's primary consultant team.

According to Shawn Leininger, Bluffton's principal planner, the previous application's rejection has no bearing on the latest proposal.

"This is a separate application from that previously submitted and reviewed. ... As a result, it is treated as a new submittal," he wrote in a statement. "The previous application contemplated a specific commercial development anchored by a grocery store."

Roller's new proposal leaves the potential use of his land more ambiguous, although it retains some of the elements from the 2008 application.

This site, according to the developers' master-plan application, would also be called the Old Carolina Shopping Center and be compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The application identifies "a grocer anchor, pharmacy, restaurant, corner market, local shops, gas convenience store and other commercial and office uses" as the kinds of businesses that could be built on the land.

It also questions the land's current residential zoning, which it received when it was annexed into the town in 2005: "The poor residential views, excess noise, location north of the Bluffton Parkway and high traffic volumes along the Bluffton Parkway corridor render the site less desirable for residential development than other residentially zoned properties in the area."

Wednesday's meeting is the first of several hurdles the application faces, Leininger said. A comprehensive-plan amendment, zoning-map amendment and master plan also would have to be approved. Depending on its reception Wednesday and other factors, the application could come back to the Planning Commission in March or April for a vote on a recommendation to Town Council, which has final authority in the matter.

Follow reporter Grant Martin at

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