Port Royal to return to mediation with Parker's, developer for gas station

emoody@beaufortgazette.comAugust 14, 2013 

  • In other business, council:

  • Gave town manager Van Willis permission to continue negations on the purchase of a new fire engine to replace one stolen by a man who struck and killed a pedestrian with it last year. Only one bid was submitted, by Pierce Manufacturing, for $445,000, but Willis and Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Chief Sammy Negron said that price could be decreased by about $15,000 through financing. The new truck would not come until about March.

  • Granted initial approval to updates to town building codes. A second vote will be scheduled.

  • Granted initial approval to annexation and rezoning of 508 Broad River Drive. Second votes will be scheduled.

  • Postponed appointment of a new design review board member.

  • Heard from resident David Kell about noise problems at The Shed. A Friday night concert was so loud that it shook the windows of Kell's home behind the community center on Paris Avenue, he said. Kell was told he could call the police if that occurs again, regardless of whether it is before the 10 p.m. noise curfew.

During an meeting lit only by flashlight Wednesday night, Port Royal Town Council agreed to return to mediation to resolve design issues with the builders of a proposed Parker's gas station and convenience store.

A storm knocked out power to Town Hall shortly before the 6:30 p.m. meeting, so council and audience members met in the building's administrative office.

Flashlights in the center of the room lit up the American flag brought in for the Pledge of Allegiance and councilmembers voted from scattered chairs and while leaning against walls.

Among the action they didn't want to put off was a unanimous decision to re-enter negotiation with representatives of Parker's and Pinckney Enterprises. No specific date for the mediation was set.

Developers Pinckney Enterprises filed a lawsuit in May requesting mediation over a plan for a gas station at the intersection of Paris Avenue and Ribaut Road that the town's design review board had approved earlier.

The town and developers have disagreed on the number of gas pumps, placement of the building on the property and design of the canopy.

Town manager Van Willis said that in previous mediation, an agreement was reached on the number of pumps -- six instead of eight -- and the placement of the building on the lot.

But in July, council was asked to vote on canopy redesigns but rejected all of the options.

That left the project in limbo.

Developers could either build the project to the specifications approved in the design review board plan or continue litigation, Willis said. The latter could take two to three years.

On Wednesday, council was asked to give permission for continued mediation. Members granted it, with some reservations. Councilmembers Tom Klein and Mary Beth Gray Heyward said council should support the review board's plans.

Mayor Sam Murray said egos should stay out of any mediation.

"My only thing is, if you go to mediation, come up with an agreement, and stick to it and bring that to us," he said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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