Civic Master Plan vote tabled by Metropolitan Planning Commission

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 21, 2013 

Members of the Metropolitan Planning Commission consider the Beaufort Civic Master Plan at an Oct. 21, 2013, meeting.


The proposed Beaufort Civic Master Plan is no closer to being voted on by City Council, as the Metropolitan Planning Commission tabled a vote on it Monday night.

But chairman Joe DeVito hopes a work session between the commission, the Redevelopment Commission, the Historic Beaufort Foundation and city staff could be the key to working out lingering issues in the document, which aims to map out the city's next 100 years.

"If they're willing to do it -- and they're both nodding yes -- then I think we should do it," he said to organization representatives among the two dozen audience members at City Hall.

A public work session will be set for late October or early November.

Commissioner Bill Harris encouraged those representatives to think about how to cooperate.

"I think that there has to be some give and take there," he said. "As we work through these things, I think it's important to think where can you give a little bit."

The Civic Master Plan has been edited and reworked after dozens of meetings and public sessions.

The document is available on the city's website

and on The Beaufort Gazette's website. It outlines development of vacant and important properties, road and transportation changes, access to water, stormwater needs, parks, and areas targeted for economic development.

The recommendation by the commission -- which includes representatives from the city, the town of Port Royal and Beaufort County -- is the final step before the plan goes to City Council for its consideration.

The city's Redevelopment Commission voted in favor of the plan at the beginning of October, but it has since been revised.

City Council has a public hearing and first vote scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 12. Two votes are needed for it to pass.

The first hearing in October was postponed because the commissions had not voted. Mayor Billy Keyserling said he still does not want City Council to consider the plan until both recommendations are done, so the hearing could be postponed again.

Some in the audience urged the commission vote. Former Mayor Henry Chambers said officials should add a disclaimer that the plan is conceptual and get it moving forward.

City planner Libby Anderson pointed out that edits to the proposed form-based code are on indefinite hold while the civic plan is being worked on.

"Move it on to City Council, and then we can get to work on our code and zoning map, and that's really where these issues will get resolved," she said.

The most recent draft of the plan was completed and posted for the public Friday. Commissioner Alice Howard said she didn't think that was enough time for the average resident to read it.

"I'm not sure Joe Public has had a chance to look at this," she said. "I have, but maybe I have no life. And I had a deadline."

DeVito said he got 17 messages from residents upset they didn't have more time to read it. Commissioners also received a long email of issues late Monday afternoon from the Historic Beaufort Foundation.

"This Civic Master Plan is very important to all of us, and it's going to have long-term and short-term problems for us if it doesn't get done right," resident Don Starkey said. " ... Please, take the time to read this 296-page document and make sure you agree with it, because some of us don't."

In other business, the commission:

  • Reviewed a plan to rezone 738 Robert Smalls Parkway, Port Royal, from mixed-use zoning, which would allow housing, to highway commercial zoning, would allow more types of businesses. The commission voted to recommend the change.
  • Tabled voting on amendments to the city's standards for garages, carports and sheds after hearing a number of concerns from residents. The commission wants additional work done before voting.

Document: The latest draft of the Civic Master Plan

Follow reporter Erin Moody at

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