Parking garage near Coligny Beach might be inevitable, Hilton Head Council says

dburley@islandpacket.comJuly 8, 2014 

  • WHAT IS THE LAND-MANAGEMENT ORDINANCE?

    The ordinance regulates growth and development on Hilton Head Island, including zoning, subdivision and environmental regulations that govern the location, size and appearance of new developments. The document includes rules for parking, landscaping, building setbacks, density, tree protection, design and appearance.

    DOES IT AFFECT ME?

    The town has an online tool to help residents determine whether the proposed changes to the land-management ordinance will affect their property. Users can enter an address or parcel number, and a map will pop up, along with a description of the proposed zoning change, if applicable.

Hilton Head Island officials hope the new shops, hotels and parks envisioned for the Coligny area bring a wave of new visitors.

Since most of them will arrive by car, that means a parking garage may be the only solution to the area's already chronic parking problems.

"The more I look at Coligny, the more I view a parking structure as inevitable," Mayor Drew Laughlin said during a Town Council workshop Tuesday afternoon. "I had hoped it was possible to resist that, but I don't think it is."

Council members provided no details on the size or location of the garage, how much it would cost or when it would be built.

Laughlin said a combination of public and private dollars could pay for it.

"I think the commercial properties in the area that would benefit from the garage would be willing to chip in," he said.

A lack of parking has plagued the area for years, according to residents and business owners who say visitors intrude on their property when the town's Pope Avenue parking lot fills up. The town is considering using an adjacent lot as temporary parking.

Hilton Head officials also have considered adding surface and off-site parking. Some residents and Planning Commission members have suggested an underground garage with rooftop gardens.

A parking garage was proposed five years ago, but the idea was considered "blasphemy," town manager Steve Riley said.

Things may be different this time, he said.

"I think there's a major recognition that this area is growing and that this is a limited land mass," he said.

The garage was discussed during the meeting on revising the land management ordinance, which regulates growth and development on the island.

The goal is to make development and re-development easier in the Coligny area and across the island. The proposed changes, for example, would scale back density and height restrictions in the Coligny area. Developers could build a hotel or mixed-use apartment complex as tall as 60 feet. Currently, buildings must be less than 45 feet tall.

Town Council must vote twice to approve any changes to the ordinance.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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