Hilton Head council changes vote, disallows commercial zoning

tbarton@islandpacket.comMay 16, 2012 

Long Cove Club residents persuaded Hilton Head Island Town Council on Tuesday to reverse its decision allowing commercial zoning on five properties near the gated community.

Long Cove's residents, who packed the council meeting, said the change from office zoning would place commercial and retail uses too close to their homes, potentially leading to increased noise and light.

The properties that would have been rezoned are occupied by the former Hargray building, Savannah Bank, the former Ronnie's bakery, Stack's restaurant and the Atrium building.

Joe Ryan of Weichert Realtors requested the change on behalf of the properties' owners. A mattress firm wants to move into the Hargray building, which the current zoning would prohibit.

Council initially approved the rezoning May 1 in a 4-3 vote. Ken Heitzke, George Williams Jr. and Bill Harkins dissented.

Councilman Lee Edwards, who was unsure about the rezoning, changed his vote Tuesday, making it 4-3 against the rezoning.

Edwards said May 1 he tended to side with Williams and others concerned there was already an overabundance of commercial districts on the island.

Williams said the uses provided in the commercial zone are too broad, allowing things such as bars, nightclubs and drive-through restaurants.

Council members opposing the rezoning said they favored business growth, but council needs to think strategically and determine how the rezoning would fit with the ongoing rewrite of the land management ordinance.

Other council members defended the rezoning.

Councilman Bill Ferguson said he visited the site, which is heavily wooded, and could not see why it would disturb Long Cove residents.

Mayor Drew Laughlin argued the area is already essentially a commercial district. Council twice rezoned nearby property last year at South Island Square and two adjacent parcels for similar use.

The island has a glut of office space that will have to be assigned for other uses, the mayor said.

"It's time for us to put our money where our mouth is and help new businesses locate here," he said, referring to council's goal of being more "business friendly."

Councilwoman Kim Likins agreed.

Ryan, of Weichert, feared the mattress business would give up on the location if council delayed action.

"Hargray supports it, and a mattress firm can go in and use office space that otherwise would sit vacant," Ryan said. "If you wait until the LMO rewrite is completed, the business will have walked away."

By law, Town Council needs to adopt a formal resolution to deny the rezoning proposal, which it is scheduled to do on June 5, town manager Steve Riley said.

Related content

  1. View the rezoning proposal and comments from town staff and Planning Commissioners
  2. View minutes from the May 1 Town Council meeting about the rezoning
  3. Consultants hope to help island remove development obstacles: Jan. 30, 2012
  4. Town commission OKs rezoning for more retail use: Sept. 7, 2011
  5. Town commission OKs added retail use off William Hilton Parkway: March 17, 2011

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