Military, municipal land-use study in works for Beaufort area

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 27, 2013 

Members of the Northern Beaufort County Regional Plan Implementation Committee, which discusses growth and future needs of the community, learn about the Joint Land Use Study during a Sept. 27, 2013, meeting at the county administration building.

STAFF PHOTO

A study about the role and effect of Beaufort's military community and bases -- and how to grow without harming the interests of current residents -- is getting started.

The Northern Beaufort County Regional Plan Implementation Committee, which discusses growth and future needs of the community, learned about the Joint Land Use Study during a meeting Friday at the county administration building.

The study is part of a number of plans and projects intended to bring order to future growth.

Beaufort County, the city of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal and the Beaufort County School District were represented at the meeting. Port Royal Councilman Joe Lee was appointed temporary chairman because chairman Joe DeVito and vice chairman Robert Semmler were unable to attend.

The land-use study will be funded mostly by the Department of Defense. Participants include Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, along with local governments, according to Ginnie Kozak of the Lowcountry Council of Governments.

The last study was done about a decade ago and adopted in 2004, she said.

"We're doing this a little ahead of schedule because, frankly, there was funding available and we were told to apply," she said.

The council of governments is leading the project because the study requires cooperation among a number of government and local agencies, Kozak said.

The last study was just for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort; this one will be more comprehensive. Although not specifically part of the study, Naval Hospital Beaufort will probably be touched upon, said Jason Mann, director of the Community Plans and Liaison Office at MCAS Beaufort.

"I don't think we're planning in a vacuum as it relates to them," he said.

The goal is to get local government and the state to work closely with the military bases to identify needs. The study will look at ways to meet those needs without causing problems for residents and businesses.

Among the factors considered are airspace and land restrictions, noise, urban growth, environment and security, according to a handout.

The study will include an implementation plan with three tiers of projects -- short term, of one to three years; medium term, of four to 10 years; and long term, 11 to 20 years.

Each project description will include who is responsible for making it happen, as well as a cost estimate and where money will come from.

"Some great things have come out of the previous study," Mann said. "... We're hailed as a success story."

Among the outcomes from the previous study were amendments to county zoning around Beaufort and a transfer-of-development-rights program.

The council of governments is seeking contractors for the study. An ad was posted to several websites Thursday, and Kozak said nine companies had requested information by Friday morning. Applications will be accepted for about a month.


In other business

At Sept. 27's meeting, the Northern Beaufort County Regional Plan Implementation Committee:
  • Heard updates about revisions to form-based code proposals that advisory committees are editing. The town of Port Royal is going through final revisions; Beaufort County should be done this fall, and Beaufort's proposal is on hold until the Civic Master Plan is completed.
  • Discussed projected enrollment trends for the Beaufort County School District. While the majority of expected growth is in the southern half of the county, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said enrollment increases at magnet schools like Beaufort Elementary are continuing to cause traffic problems.
  • Heard an update about progress on the Spanish Moss Trail, including paving, potential complications with crossing Robert Smalls Parkway and a fundraising campaign.
  • Learned the new Beaufort County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which will help plan and coordinate transportation and road projects, is "up and running," according to Ginnie Kozak of the Lowcountry Council of Governments.
  • Discussed creating a countywide parks task force to look into location, ownership and maintenance of parks and recreational space. It could be on the Beaufort County Council agenda next month.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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