Beaufort County mulls use of eminent domain for road connection

info@islandpacket.comMarch 18, 2013 

Beaufort County is considering acquiring about four acres in greater Bluffton within the Grande Oaks development through eminent domain

The county wants the land to build a new roadway between Old Miller Road and Lake Point Drive, both of which currently dead-end within the development. The new road would offer a straight shot through the neighborhood and access to Buckwalter Parkway and May River Road.

The county has no choice but to condemn the property, another term for eminent domain, because "exhaustive negotiations" with the landowner have failed.

"After having conducted exhaustive negotiations with the property owners, it is now felt that it will be necessary to use the County's power of eminent domain to make the acquisition," according to a county staff report.

Doug Robertson, the original developer of Grande Oaks who owns at least part of the 2,770-feet by 66-feet strip of land in question, said he only learned of the eminent domain proceedings Sunday night when a friend called him.

Robertson said he's willing to work with the county on connectivity but favors an exit near Innovation Drive at Bluffton Parkway instead of the current plan, which funnels traffic into the traffic light at Lake Point Drive. He says that intersection can't handle the additional traffic.

"A straight line is always a better idea," he said Monday.

The proposal is due to come before Beaufort County's Public Facilities Committee at 4 p.m. this afternoon.

For updates from the meeting, follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey and check back with The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette later today.

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