Beaufort County to buy, preserve 230-acre Pinckney Point tract for $7M

cconley@islandpacket.comApril 8, 2013 

At Monday's council meeting, a representative of Hope Haven looks on as County Council Chairman reads a proclamation naming April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

STAFF PHOTO

Beaufort County announced plans Monday to purchase and preserve nearly 230 acres on Pinckney Point, between the Okatie and Colleton rivers.

The land, toward the north end of Pinckney Colony Road in Okatie, was the subject of a five-year legal battle over a developer's plans for a housing and marina project on the site. The county was among the groups that fought the project, citing concerns over water quality.

County Council voted 9-1 Monday to authorize the purchase of the land for $6.95 million. The money will come from $25 million in new Rural and Critical Lands bonds, which council also approved Monday.

Councilman Rick Caporale, who opposed the $25 million Rural and Critical Lands bond issue that voters approved last fall, voted against the purchase.

Florida developer Pinckney Point LLC spent nearly six years trying to develop the parcel into a high-end community with up to 76 homes that would have been serviced by septic tanks. Plans also called for community docks, a boat landing and up to 40 boat slips.

The Pinckney Colony Neighborhood Association, located near the parcel, also opposed the project.

After clearing several legal hurdles, the project reemerged in August 2011, gaining preliminary approval from the county's Development Review Team. It's not clear what became of the project after that.

No further information on the tract, which is mostly undeveloped forest, was available Monday night.

Councilman Jerry Stewart said the purchase was one that Beaufort County residents would be "very happy with."

OTHER ACTION

In other action Monday, County Council:

  • Approved the purchase of about an acre near Fort Frederick in Port Royal for $75,000. Funding will come through the Rural and Critical Lands program. The land will offer easier access to an S.C. Department of Natural Resources boat ramp in the area.

  • Advanced a request by Solicitor Duffie Stone for $153,000 in additional funding for the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office through June 30. Stone wants the money to replace grants that expired and to begin the process of hiring four new attorneys. Subsequent votes are needed for approval.

  • Authorized the sale of $37.5 million in new debt to refinance bonds issued in 2006. The new debt will save the county about $1.5 million over the next decade through lower interest rates.

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