Preservation program a lasting legacy for all

info@islandpacket.comNovember 4, 2012 

When my youngest child is my age, the most enduring legacy of my chairmanship and that of Beaufort County Council will be our resolute support of the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program.

In two prior referendums, our citizens overwhelmingly approved $90 million to buy land and development rights, resulting in over 21,000 acres of rural and undeveloped properties being protected for future generations. Not only has the program preserved stunningly special places that make our part of the Lowcountry so biologically rich and scenically unsurpassed, we have also partnered with federal agencies and private foundations to dramatically reduce our costs and accomplish shared missions.

By any objective measure, the program is a tremendous success, whose value to our community only increases as time passes.

Recently, I have been made aware of an email campaign attacking the integrity of the program and urging recipients to vote "no" on the upcoming referendum question. It states that because the program purchases development rights from voluntary sellers, the county is in the development business. The county purchases development rights so that they may be extinguished, allowing for less development.

The fact is the program's role is well defined by county ordinance and subjected to multiple levels of review. The offenses suggested in the emails have not occurred in the past and will not in the future because we consistently and scrupulously obey the law.

Please consider voting to continue this immensely successful program with your approval of the $25 million bond referendum Tuesday.

Weston Newton, chairman

Beaufort County Council

Bluffton

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