In response to charges that changes to the city of Beaufort's zoning rules are not being done in public -- including concerns from some on the committee doing that work -- a draft of the proposed form-based code is available online.
The citizen-advisory committee that is examining that document has new leaders, too.
Craig Lewis, who leads the architecture and engineering firm overseeing the city's work, will now defer to committee co-chairs Terry Murray and David Tedder. Lewis, a principal in The Lawrence Group, will remain available to the committee to answer questions and assist in its work.
"This is not the time to throw up our hands and say the system is not working," Mayor Billy Keyserling said. "This is a chance to see how we could make the system work better."
The co-chairs are expected to come up with a plan to make the committee's work more efficient.
A committee of 20 was appointed by City Council in the fall to assist with review and editing of the proposed code. As compared to traditional zoning, form-based code focuses less on how a building will be used and more on the way it fits into its surroundings.
Progress has been painfully slow, committee members say. And some residents said they wanted more updated information.
Keyserling spoke with most of the committee members and suggested a change in leadership during a meeting Wednesday.
The changes were immediately apparent.
Instead of talking about the process and what needs to be done, the committee focused on one neighborhood, Verdier Bluff. Last month, residents there viewed a draft map and pointed out zoning errors, frustrated that they weren't given access to revisions.
"If we can get our arms and heads around that, then maybe we can move on to another area," Tedder said. "... If we chew up this elephant one bite at a time, maybe we can get some traction."
Drafts of the code have been posted on the city's website under the projects tab "Beaufort Code."
Concerned that the drafts may confuse residents, who might not understand they are working documents, a large, red disclaimer has been added, along with the date the map was last edited.
Comments and corrections submitted by the public will be recorded and considered by the review committee, and the map will be updated periodically.
How helpful those documents will be remains to be seen, Keyserling said.
The city is not trying to hide anything, but the process and content being reviewed is complex and ever-changing, he said.
"For those people who are trusting we are trying to do the right thing, I think it will be helpful," he said. "But for those people who are looking for pimples, for flaws, then that won't be productive."