Beaufort residents can tell City Council exactly what they think about the proposed Civic Master Plan on Jan. 14 before the panel votes on it later that night.
It will be the first of two votes, with a possible work session between, that could lead to finalization of a 100-year-plan to guide how the city grows. The plan outlines development of vacant and important properties, road and transportation changes, access to water, stormwater needs, parks and areas targeted for economic development.
Mayor Billy Keyserling said during a work session discussion Tuesday night that the hearing and votes were postponed until after the new year so holiday plans would not interfere with residents' opportunities to comment.
Councilman Mike Sutton said that while he thought the document was good and easy to read despite its 280-page length, he had marked some questions throughout it. Those issues can be worked out in implementation, he said.
"Flying at 40,000 feet, those questions are really such a moot point," he said. "Those questions will be answered in the many other documents that go into how you get things done," he said.
He held up a copy of the draft plan, then a stack of binders with other city rules and regulations.
"This is the document at 40,000 feet, and these are the documents at ground level when you're walking through the door."
"It could stop a bullet," Councilman Mike McFee quipped.
The city's Redevelopment Commission and the Beaufort/Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission have both recommended adoption of the plan. Historic Beaufort Foundation executive director Maxine Lutz continued to ask officials to add the set of guidelines for the historic district recommended by her organization.
Craig Lewis, a contractor with the city's Office of Civic Investment, reiterated previous statements that the plan is conceptual, and meant to guide development, not dictate it.
"The drawing on the page isn't exactly how something is going to be built," he said. "We could draw it four more ways -- in some cases we've already drawn it four different ways -- but whatever is built there is ultimately up to the person building it."
Lewis passed around a list of meetings about the plan dating back to 2009, when the city adopted its Comprehensive Plan. Redevelopment Commission chairman Jon Verity said the public input, especially over the last nine months, has helped produce a better document.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.