Public asked to speak out on rewriting development rules

tbarton@islandpacket.comOctober 15, 2012 

  • What is the land management ordinance?

    The ordinance regulates growth and development on Hilton Head Island, including zoning, subdivision and environmental regulations that govern the location, size and appearance of new developments. The document includes rules for parking, landscaping, building setbacks, density, tree protection, design and appearance.

    Why is the town rewriting it?

    The last comprehensive revision of the land management ordinance was in 1998. It has been amended since then, but many say the changes have not done enough to encourage owners to redevelop old commercial properties or start new development. Some also say the document is too complex and cumbersome. Town officials say the rewrite will make it easier to understand and apply.


After years of debate and promises for reform by town officials, Hilton Head Island residents can weigh in this month on an effort to remove obstacles to development.

Town Council appointed a committee in April 2011 to create a plan to simplify land-use regulations in hopes of encouraging redevelopment.

The committee aims to begin reviewing a draft of the rewritten ordinance by mid-November. It would consolidate zoning districts, allow a broader range of land uses and reduce building restrictions.

Before that review begins, the committee wants public comment on the land management ordinance, starting with a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in council chambers.

"Your input will be invaluable in assisting us with developing an LMO that meets the needs of our citizens," committee chairman Tom Crews wrote in a letter soliciting input from local contractors, developers, architects and land-planners.

Growth-management consultant Clarion Associates was hired to help with the rewrite and has worked with the committee since January to make the planning code more flexible. Opticos Design and Architecture and Port Royal land-planning and engineering firm Ward Edwards are assisting Clarion.

Town officials say the regulations formed to slow rapid growth in the 1990s are now obstacles for businesses seeking to expand or renovate, construction of new homes and development of unused land.

The topic became a defining issue in the 2010 mayoral and Town Council elections, prompting commitments from political leaders to make it easier to develop or redevelop property.

Much of the island was developed by the time the town was incorporated in 1983, and even more was built by 1987, when it first adopted a land-management ordinance. Many island properties pre-dating the town's formation don't comply with those standards.

"The committee has given its best effort going through the LMO with town staff and has reached good, sensible solutions, but we need to reach out for good strong input from the people who deal with the LMO, so we don't miss anything," Crews said.

To address the committee, contact Teri Lewis at 843-341-4698 or, or Crews at 843-842-6009 or

Related content:

Town of Hilton Head LMO Rewrite

Mathews Drive projects point to progress, challenges for Hilton Head redevelopment: Sept. 2, 2012

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