Taller buildings near the beach featuring condominiums or apartments above expanded retail and dining space could be in store for Hilton Head Island.
The town's Planning Commission held the first of two public workshops Wednesday to discuss proposed changes aimed at simplifying the island's zoning regulations.
The revised regulations are meant to allow a broader range of land uses and reduce building restrictions, making it easier for owners to improve their properties and for businesses to expand, according to town land management official Teri Lewis.
Town officials say the regulations formed to slow rapid growth in the 1990s are now obstacles for both residents and business owners who want to reinvestment in their properties.
"Hilton Head is to the point where it needs some love, and anything they can do to encourage that will be beneficial to them in the long run," said Jonathan Guion, regional partner with Wheeler Development of Virginia Beach, Va. Guion said the company plans to rebuild much of the north-island Pineland Station shopping center off William Hilton Parkway, in part because of the town's pursuit of new planning standards meant to encourage upgrades to dated commercial areas.
The commission is focusing on the Pineland Station and Coligny areas.
"(Coligny) is one of our earliest commercial districts, with potential for redevelopment and reinvestment," said architect Tom Crews, chairman of a town committee that recommended the changes. "But under the current (planning and development standards), a lot of the existing things don't meet the standards and are noncompliant."
Many island structures predating the town's formation in 1983 and adoption of its planning code in 1987 don't comply with those standards.
"In order to have the Coligny beach-village, pedestrian-oriented area realized, we need to have standards that will allow that type of development," Crews said. "That means mixed uses, higher density ... and instead of parking in front of each little store, move it to areas that consolidate parking and allow more pedestrian movement, and allow hotel uses that haven't been allowed before."
Among changes proposed for the Coligny area:
- Increase building-height restrictions in a new resort zoning district from 45 to 60 feet.
- Allow for more hotels, motels and inns, including a bed-and-breakfast with as many as 10 rooms.
- Remove restrictions on residential and commercial density within the district. Currently, residential development is limited to four units per acre; commercial, to 8,000 square feet per acre. Instead, development would be limited by height and parking restrictions.
Residential construction, however, would be limited to multi-family housing and mixed-use development that combines residential, commercial, food and beverage and lodging.
OTHER COMMERCIAL AREAS
Commercial areas along William Hilton Parkway, Palmetto Bay Road and Mathews Drive would also be allowed to add square footage and new businesses. Among the proposed changes:
- Create a new community commercial zoning district, to include Pineland Station and Port Royal and Northridge plazas, suited to big retailers such as Walmart and Sam's Club.
- Consolidate six commercial zoning districts spread across the island into one light-commercial district that combines most of the districts' uses.
The next planning meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 29 in council chambers at Town Hall.
Video: Hilton Head Island working on rewrite of land management rules (4:17)
Tom Crews, chairman of the Town of Hilton Head Island's Land Management Ordinance Rewrite Committee.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.