Redevelopment Commission, residents: more work needed on Beaufort Civic Master Plan

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 5, 2013 

  • The commission also:

  • Met in executive session to discuss contractual issues. Chairman Jon Verity declined to give a more specific explanation of those issues.

  • Heard from consultant Craig Lewis of the architectural and engineering firm The Lawrence Group about progress on the Boundary Street redevelopment project. Right-of-way acquisition is underway and he expects the project could be ready to go to bid within a month.

  • Heard from Verity that a memorandum of understanding regarding development of the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot is being finalized with a developer. Verity said additional information will be made public soon. Verity also said the Lafayette Street housing development should be moving along soon. Developers were waiting to begin until Lafayette Street was repaved, and that paving is currently underway.

Residents and Redevelopment Commission members made one thing clear Thursday night: There's still room to improve a plan outlining how Beaufort should grow over the next 100 years.

The city's proposed Civic Master Plan has been discussed and edited repeatedly as officials, planners and residents prepare it for possible adoption.

"The goal in this plan is to show what is possible and what is appropriate for our community," said consultant Craig Lewis of the architectural and engineering firm The Lawrence Group.

The plan includes development of vacant and key properties, road and transportation changes, access to water, stormwater needs, parks and areas where economic development should be focused on.

Residents have raised concerns about errors in maps and specific development projects, and planners with the city's Office of Civic Investment have been making changes.

Among the concerns Thursday night from both commissioner Alan Dechovitz and resident Don Starkey was a need for the plan and its overarching goals to be more clear and concise so residents understand it.

"A lot of people won't go through the 294 pages of that document and it's important that they understand it," Starkey said. "...We've got to summarize this for the people in the community."

Much discussion centered around how the plan and the state-mandated Comprehensive Plan work together. Lewis said the Civic Master Plan creates more specific plans for areas and projects than the Comprehensive Plan.

Local attorney David Tedder said the plans need to be congruent to avoid problems in the future.

He is also concerned some of the goals in the Civic Master Plan might not be practical or feasible, such as the narrowing of roads. He proposed the city do tests, using traffic cones, to see how drivers react.

Commission chairman Jon Verity said he thought that was a practical idea.

Additional issues included stormwater maintenance, development plans for areas to the west of the city's core, access to Battery Creek, treatment of the historic district and the overall effect of the plan on the character of Beaufort.

Historic Beaufort Foundation executive director Maxine Lutz and consultant Cynthia Jenkins both read passages from the Civic Master Plan they found confusing. They said they are working on a long list of issues and will submit it to the city for consideration.

"I just kept thinking sloppy, sloppy, sloppy," Lutz said. "I really think it is a flawed document."

Verity said his panel will probably vote on it in October, after additional revisions.

The Metropolitan Planning Commission is expected to discuss the plan at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16, and is also expected to vote in October.

Both commissions' recommendations will be considered by City Council. A public hearing is set for Oct. 8, and the plan could come up for a first council vote Oct. 24. Two votes are needed for adoption.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content:


Documents

Click fullscreen button on lower right, or if using a touch screen, tap the document, to get a closer look.

Civic Master Plan draft of Aug. 5, 2013

Civic Master Plan Public Comments and Running Edits Aug. 22, 2013

 

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