A look at potential new development rules for Port Royal

emoody@beaufortgazette.comNovember 10, 2013 

  • To view the code:
    To see the draft for the town of Port Royal's proposed form-based code, go to http://bit.ly/1gwBD6S , or stop by Town Hall at 700 Paris Ave.

More than 400 pages of what could become the town of Port Royal's next set of development rules are available for public inspection.

A six-member citizen committee, town staff and a consultant have spent about a year tailoring a draft given them by Beaufort County. The proposed rules are established by form-based code, which differs from the traditional zoning that is now in place in much of Port Royal. The new code is based more on a building's appearance than its intended use.

The city of Beaufort and the county are also setting up form-based code, but are not as far along in the process.

Consultant Brian Herrmann said the core of form-based code goes deeper than just building appearance, by taking the best of what is already in Port Royal and creating a guide to replicate it.

"It's really more about ... shaping public spaces and roads and the character of a community," Herrmann said.

The advisory committee has meticulously reviewed the code line by line, town planner Linda Bridges said.

"There was consensus on all terms," she said. "That doesn't mean everyone was heartily in support of every issue, but the team was able to come to consensus, which is really heartening to see."

Some of the changes will affect many residents and property owners, she said, although much of the code will outline rules similar to ones already in place.

Zones -- called "transects" in the code -- will change for all properties that are not part of a planned unit development, she said.

Port Royal has used a form-based code concept in small areas of the town since 1997, and that provided a good starting point for a draft of a more comprehensive code, Herrmann said.

"I feel like we've taken a product that has been proving it works in Port Royal quite well -- in the small areas where it's utilized -- and we've expanded it across the town," he said.

Most of the project review process, including historic review, should remain intact, Bridges said.

The Beaufort/Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission will have a work session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, 700 Paris Ave., to review the code. It is expected to vote on the code Nov. 18, Bridges said.

After the commission makes its recommendation, the proposal will go to Town Council for a public hearing and two votes.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content: A divided Port Royal Council OKs money for form-based code study, Nov. 10, 2010 http://www.islandpacket.com/2010/11/10/1440083/a-divided-port-royal-council-oks.html

Panelists push residents to speak out on proposed building code changes, Oct. 17, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/10/17/2742442/form-based-code-roundtable-at.html

Access to form-based code documents concerns some Beaufort residents, Feb. 24, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/02/24/2393066/access-to-form-based-code-documents.html

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