Plans OK'd for proposed big-box shopping center in greater Bluffton

More runoff control sought in construction plan

dburley@islandpacket.comMarch 3, 2014 

  • Bluffton Gateway timeline

    Late 1980s: State inspectors found "various hazardous waste storage violations" at the former print shop in the late 1980s.

    2007: Groundwater collected detects the presence of chlorinated solvents that were "in excess of federal and state drinking water standards."

    2009: Tests show the pollutants had reduced.

    Jan. 2013: Beaufort County Council votes to rezone the property for commercial development.

    July 2013: Atlanta-based developer Jaz Development, LLC., submits plan for big-box retailers on the site.

    August - Sept. 2013: Developer signs a "non-responsible party" cleanup contract with the state to remove the chemicals left from a print shop. That includes removing contaminated soil, a chemical storage tank and the existing septic system.

    March 2014: Council's Natural Resources Committee moves the development along.

    April 2014: Council expected to vote on development.

    — Compiled by Dan Burley

Plans for a new shopping center in greater Bluffton received preliminary approval Monday from a Beaufort County committee, but its members said more must be done to reduce stormwater runoff before construction can begin.

An Atlanta-based developer plans to build two or more big-box stores on nearly 66 acres at the corner of U.S. 278 and S.C. 46. Developer David Oliver declined to say what retailers might locate there.

The plans now head to County Council.

The proposed development agreement between the county and the site's developers, Jaz Development LLC, calls for the site to have impervious surfaces on no more than 20 percent of the property. Committee members said they want the developer to try to reduce that to 10 percent, the amount called for in county code.

Reducing impervious surfaces -- areas that water cannot penetrate -- helps prevent rainwater from running off the property and carrying pollutants into local waterways.

Councilman Brian Flewelling, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said Oliver needs to submit a drainage plan before the development is approved by the full council.

County stormwater manager Eric Larson said he'll look at the drainage plan to see if there are any impervious surfaces, such as asphalt and pavement, that could be eliminated.

Oliver also seeks state permission to clean five acres of contaminated soil on the site. Earlier this year, he signed a "non-responsible party" cleanup contract with the state to remove the chemicals left from a print shop that closed in the late 1980s.

The cleanup would remove the contaminated soil, a chemical storage tank and a septic system believed to be a contributor to polluted groundwater.

Oliver said Monday he sent a cleanup plan to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The plan would cost about $500,000, Oliver estimated.

Beaufort County would match the cost of the cleanup with a tax credit after DHEC deems the area free of contaminants, according to county attorney Josh Gruber.

Beaufort County is scheduled to give the development agreement a second reading March 24, with a final vote April 14.

Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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