Citizen input to be incorporated, mistakes corrected in long-term plan for city of Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 9, 2013 

Suggestions and corrections from Beaufort residents will be incorporated into the draft plan for the city's next century of growth, officials say.

But the Civic Master Plan should get a bit thinner, as some plans will be scrapped or left for future City Council members and planners.

Among the cuts are plans for the Beaufort Depot area, improvements to Ribaut Road, and developments included in the original draft that don't mesh with property owners' plans.

"There are a lot of areas around the community where we expect change because that's just what happens with raw land and the area around it," said Craig Lewis of the city's Office of Civic Investment. "The plan is intended to anticipate that change and focus investments accordingly, but the plan is not intended to force change."

The city held a two-month series of sessions to gather public input, and the Redevelopment Commission sifted through nine pages of feedback Wednesday.

The information will be incorporated into a new draft, which will be presented to the public this summer. After that, it will be revised, sent to the Metropolitan Planning Commission and then to City Council. Two votes and at least one public hearing before council would be required before the plan could be adopted.

Redevelopment Commission chairman Jon Verity said illustrations of the Beaufort Downtown Marina and the Beaufort Post Office block are being removed because they not only concerned residents, but could influence potential developers.

Some of the plans for private land irked property owners, so renderings depicting lots belonging to Ralph Salzer and around Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Technical College of the Lowcountry have been removed or scaled back, Verity said.

A marsh-front road behind the hospital and TCL that was opposed by nearby residents also is being scrubbed, in favor of a walking and biking path that would connect to the Spanish Moss Trail.

Road connections between business driveways in that area, however, will be encouraged by the city, Verity said.

"So there is no marsh road, and no chance that is going to happen unless TCL and the hospital decide to make it happen," he said.

A full list of the proposed changes and comments is available on the city website at cityofbeaufort.org/civic-master-plan.aspx.

The Redevelopment Commission is also asking the Office of Civic Investment to come up with plans for Polk Village, which is not part of the city but eventually could be annexed. Problems with boundaries of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will also be resolved, and Verity said base officials will continue meeting with the city as the draft is refined.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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