Beaufort residents worried plan puts houses near Southside Park

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 8, 2013 

  • Public meetings on Beaufort's Civic Master Plan have been scheduled. All meetings will be in council chambers, City Hall, 1911 Boundary St.

  • Workshop, Sector 2 (west of Ribaut Road and between Boundary Street and Beaufort Memorial Hospital): 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

  • Workshop, citywide: 5:30 p.m. May 1

  • Workshop, Sector 3 (south of Allison Road): 5:30 p.m. Thursday

  • Workshop, Sector 4 and 5 (Boundary Street, Burton and Lady's Island): 5:30 p.m. April 22

As the city of Beaufort presents the draft of the Civic Master Plan that will guide growth, some residents are pointing out problems they want fixed.

That includes housing that has cropped up in renderings of Southside Park in Mossy Oaks, which the Southside Park Committee has opposed for more than a decade. The planned homes also may be illegal because of restrictions on the land.

"It doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons," Metropolitan Planning Commission member Alice Howard said. "First, legally, can you do it? And then the people who attended the charrettes didn't want that to happen. ...

"Southside Park is such a large jewel."

About 34 acres were given to the city by the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority for the park between Battery Creek, Waddell and Talbird roads, and Southside Boulevard.

According to a 1999 covenant, the site of a former wastewater treatment plant and the then-proposed Southside Park was "dedicated in perpetuity as a park and recreational facility for the benefit of the city's residents, and not for any other purpose."

In 2009, city attorney Bill Harvey said homes cannot be built on the land unless the city and the water utility reach a new agreement.

Housing along the edges of the park had been proposed to offset park development costs and to provide additional "eyes on the park" for safety reasons, said Craig Lewis of the city's Office of Civic Investment. Residents at public meetings and work sessions have opposed the idea, said park committee chairman Brian Coffman.

"It would be my preference not to do that," park committee member Connie Hipp said. "I know they say it's a way to get money to pay for it, but I don't think that's the way to do it."

Coffman said city officials have worked with the committee on plans for a passive park, but the designs in the Civic Master Plan don't reflect that.

"Obviously, it's a master plan, it's a concept," Coffman said. "But if it's something that's not ever going to happen, then there's no point in showing it that way and adopting it into the books."

Howard is concerned that comments by residents about the houses have not been incorporated into the plan. The draft Civic Master Plan was presented to the public last week during a Beaufort-Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission meeting. Planners told the audience the homes would only require a small piece of park land.

" 'Oh, it's just a sliver of the land,' " Howard said they were told. "Well, that could be 5 acres, that could be 10 acres, when you have a 50-acre park."

Lewis said the plan is only a long-term vision and not for immediate implementation. Houses on the plan use about 60 feet of city-owned property along the east side of Southside Park Loop, which cuts into the park. The renderings also show housing on Waddell Road that might be built on private property.

Public feedback is being gathered from a series of work sessions about the draft master plan and will be incorporated into it, he said. A list of suggestions and changes will be compiled and posted on the city's website after the work sessions Wednesday and Thursday.

Minor changes, such as grammar, will be fixed as soon as possible. Larger changes will need to be discussed by City Council and staff.

Related content

  1. City ready to reveal proposed Beaufort master code to public, March 20, 2013
  2. After years of planning, Beaufort to begin work on a simpler Southside Park, April 27, 2010

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