Beaufort residents push back on Master Civic Plan

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 11, 2013 

Staff and residents reviewed maps of the city of Beaufort during a work session Thursday.

STAFF PHOTO

Ralph Salzer wonders why a draft of the city of Beaufort's Civic Master Plan depicts 70 residences on land he owns in the North End neighborhood.

After all, no one asked about his intentions for the five parcels he's pieced together through the years.

As the city rolls out the plan, staff is getting plenty of push-back from residents.

Salzer was among dozens who attended presentations about the draft plan Wednesday and Thursday and questioned the vision planners have laid out for the city's next 100 years of growth.

Edie Rodgers is troubled by the plan's use of the word 'concept.'

"... we say concept doesn't mean its going to happen, but it does happen." she said.

Other concerns included development of Allison Road and the proposed construction of a road that would parallel Ribaut Road and connect the Technical College of the Lowcountry and Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Residents have repeatedly opposed such a road.

"I never thought I would reach a point in my life where I felt like I have to keep looking over my shoulder to see what my city is doing," resident Lee Shaffer said during the meeting Wednesday at City Hall.

About 50 residents questioned Redevelopment Commission chairman Jon Verity and Craig Lewis of the Office of Civic Investment during that meeting. About 30 residents attended Thursday

"You have a trust problem, Mr. Verity," one man said from the crowd Wednesday.

Another woman said her North End neighborhood is a "stable place that no one wants to move from, and it isn't broken and doesn't need to be fixed."

Verity and Lewis said they understand why people are concerned, and want to address issues so the final plan is as complete and accurate as possible when city council votes on it.

"We've learned that when you draw things on a map, people get concerned, and rightfully so," Lewis said.

The city is presenting a draft of the plan, which lays out ways it might grow and change in the next 100 years, in a series of meetings, each targeted at a specific area. Those presentations will continue through May.

Wednesday's gathering outlined plans for Sector 2, which includes areas west of Ribaut Road and between Boundary Street and Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Thursday's meeting covered the area south of Allison Road.

Many residents, including Salzer, were concerned about renderings that seemed to suggest what building would go where.

Terry Murray and others suggested the drawings be pulled from the presentation or redrawn if they were, as Verity called them, "misleading." He emphasized that the images and plans are simply examples of how land could be developed, and were intended to show property owners what could be done.

The draft also includes plans for Beaufort Memorial that are not part of the hospital's long-term goals.

Verity said the meetings provide the type of feedback officials want. Lewis said he is taking note of the concerns. A list of issues will be posted on the city's website shortly, he said.

"The goal is to get feedback from the community to make sure everything we have on the plan is correct," Verity said. "...It's important that you know we haven't ignored all of this and it's important to know what the neighborhood thinks."

Presentations on Sectors 4 and 5, covering Boundary Street, Burton and Lady's Island, will be presented April 22.

A city-wide presentation is scheduled May 5.

All meetings are at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1911 Boundary St.

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