Beaufort has too much steamrolling going on

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 29, 2014 

On the first of two votes, Beaufort City Council approved the Civic Master Plan while rejecting the well thought-out recommendation of the Historic Beaufort Foundation.

The foundation recommended upfront guidance in the form of a widely-used Seven Integrities for Historic Preservation document. Former Mayor Henry Chambers, former state Rep. Edie Rodgers and former County Council member Beth Grace and other knowledgeable people spoke in support. The developers on the City Council and their amen chorus of one opined otherwise, with George O'Kelley being a voice in the wilderness.

Having an upfront statement of guidance and principles is analogous to the U.S. Constitution from which flows our system of laws and regulations. So should every important plan. Developers, like lawyers, love ambiguity and wiggle room. This issue is most relevant to infill projects in the Historic District.

The Redevelopment Commission's version on infill appears to be wedded to some fanciful, European, urban setting. Happy, taxpaying residents, living cheek by jowl, stroll -- or perhaps ride their basket-equipped bicycles with string bags (how green we are!) at the ready -- to their boutique markets and happily stroll or bike back home, laden with dinner makings of the day (and the obligatory baguette).

How nice. But suppose a developer can get away with being a slumlord. With a lack of upfront, clear guidance and just a little ambiguity, he could build under the auspices of something like affordable housing mini Mother Cabrini clusters. Do we want this?

Too much steamrolling going on. Something maybe stinketh here?

Carter Swenson


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