Port Royal Town Council to continue Parkers discussion Nov. 6

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 23, 2013 

  • Baker announces council bid

    Park Beaufort manager and Lollipop co-owner Lundy Baker is running as a write-in candidate for Port Royal Town Council.

    He is one of four candidates vying for two at-large seats in the Nov. 5 election. Baker and incumbents Mary Beth Gray Heyward and Vernon DeLoach will participate in a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdayat Port Royal Elementary School, 1214 Paris Ave. Also running for council is newcomer Lee Helena, but he is not on the list of forum participants.

    Baker, 52, has lived in Port Royal since 2009 after moving from Ohio. He is married to Dianna and they have four grown daughters.

    He sits on the board of Main Street Beaufort, USA, the board of the Alzheimer's Family Services of Greater Beaufort, the Historic Beaufort Foundation's business committee and the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's small-business committee.

    Lundy says his top priority is revitalizing downtown.

    "I've watched (Beaufort) slowly return," he said. "When I came four years ago, there were 14 empty storefronts and today there is only one. I want to own that project, getting Port Royal revitalized."

A Wednesday night work session was called to let two Port Royal council members find out how a design decision on a Parker's gas station was made.

It ended with a plan that might move the project to the next step.

Tom Klein and Mary Beth Gray Heyward have called for a closed-door meeting Nov. 6 with the three other council members on the station proposed for the intersection of Paris Avenue and Ribaut Road.

Council could make a decision afterward that meeting. That decision could involve a new vote on a mediation plan council previously voted against to giving its attorney guidance on how to proceed in mediation.

"We're going to come up with something nobody is happy with, but everyone can live with," town attorney Mary Lohr cautioned.

Plans for the store stalled after council denied the most recent, mediated agreement with Parker's and developers on Oct. 9.

The town and developers have disagreed on the number of gas pumps, placement of the building on the property and design of the canopy. Council issues have also included traffic patterns, safety and building appearance.

Town consultant Cooter Ramsey said his biggest issue is the "massive amount of hard, ugly, concrete surface."

Parker's attorney Walter Nester said it's been difficult to know what changes will appease the town.

"It has been somewhat of a moving target for us," he said. "That's not a criticism of the town or staff, but it is a moving target."

The town's Design Review Board and Parker's representatives formally met to discuss plans four times, beginning in December, town planner Linda Bridges said. Special exemptions allow businesses such as gas stations to have design options that are more flexible than town code would otherwise allow, board chairman Andy Corriveau said.

"I think we're 70 percent outside of what normally would be required if anyone else was building there, and I think we came to a good compromise," he said.

Lohr said the exemptions are there for a reason.

"Exceptional use is exceptional because it's something that a town realizes is part of their community, but is not going to fit into an area," she said. "We can make them try to blend in as well as we can, but recognize as a business model they are never going to blend in completely."

Developer Pinckney Enterprises filed a lawsuit in May requesting mediation over the plan, upset by the design board's approval of a plan with six instead of eight gas pumps. That led to a series of mediation attempts.

A first round of mediation led to Town Council voting against canopy designs.

The second round led to it to vote against a plan that had eight pumps -- instead of the six approved by the design board -- divided under two canopies.

Lohr has said Parker's options include agreeing to build according to the review board plan, agreeing to more to mediation, continuing legal action or abandoning the project. Nester said Parker's remains committed to building the station at the intersection.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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