Although spurred by a request to annex a specific piece of property, a discussion about changing the growth boundary between the city of Beaufort and town of Port Royal looked at the bigger picture Tuesday night.
The joint municipal Beaufort-Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission discussed changes that would allow both to continue growing and clean up gerrymandering in the original line.
The growth boundary represents an agreement between the municipalities about what land each could annex. It was drawn in the late 1990s based on the location of utilities, after what commission chairman Joe DeVito called "annexation wars" that have since cooled.
"We said let's get together and find a solution to stop these wars," he said.
The line has been amended only once since it was adopted, according to Beaufort planners -- when it was discovered the boundary bisected the site of the current-day Shadow Moss subdivision off Robert Smalls Parkway.
Craig Freeman, general manager of Barrier Island Marine, wants to open a boat repair and sales business at 599 Robert Smalls Parkway, which currently lies in an unincorporated area of Beaufort County.
Freeman's landlord, Frances Rabon, has requested the property be annexed into Port Royal, where zoning would allow the business. However, it is on Beaufort's side of the growth boundary.
City and town planners presented a possible redrawing of the line Monday night that would allow Rabon's property to be annexed and give both municipalities room to grow.
"It's something that's a little different, something that's a little more regular and something that might not have to be adjusted for 10 years or so," town planner Linda Bridges said.
The proposed line change will be taken up again Feb. 18, at the commission's next meeting. Any change in the boundary would have to be approved by Beaufort and Port Royal councils.
The line would put 74 additional acres in Port Royal's growth zone, but Bridges and city planner Libby Anderson pointed out that some of that land already is developed and will probably will not be annexed into the town. The city also is getting more land around Robert Smalls Parkway, which has greater potential for development.
"So the market value isn't very high there, but the potential is," Bridges said.
Commissioner Jim Hicks was concerned about the precedent a change would set but thinks the conversation " is a very healthy thing to occur" and will help "develop a procedure to deal with this."