The owner of two recently built homes on Heron Street, dubbed by critics as a “mini-hotel,” has appealed the decision of the Hilton Head Board of Zoning Appeals ordering the removal of a large deck connecting the two properties.
According to the notice of appeal, filed Oct. 2 in Beaufort County Circuit Court, Shane Gould is contesting the Aug. 28 decision of the town and the BZA, which reversed a waiver that determined his two houses functioned as a single development.
But the town is also taking steps to prevent the waiver from happening again in similar situations. At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, initial approval was given in a 3-2 vote, with council members Kim Likins and Bill Harkins absent, to amend the town’s land management ordinance.
There was no debate on the amendment to prevent the waiver from being used again in single-family residential districts. Rather, debate focused on whether to allow commercial parking lots in new zoning districts. Council members John McCann, Marc Grant and Tom Lennox approved amending the ordinance, while mayor David Bennett and council member David Ames voted against it.
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The connected properties on Heron Street have received criticism from residents who contend it will turn their neighborhood into a resort and spur large, loud parties.
“It’s important (to appeal the BZA decision) because it’s the only opportunity for (Gould) to preserve his property rights under S.C. law,” said Richardson LaBruce, Gould’s attorney, before Tuesday’s meeting.
Gould declined to comment when contacted Tuesday.
Jack Daly, president of the Forest Beach Owners Association, said Tuesday the association is exploring the possibility of a settlement to a lawsuit filed against Gould. It would include, at a minimum, everything ordered by the BZA and an adherence to the association’s covenants, he said.
According to his appeal, Gould was not permitted to participate in the BZA hearing, though he was called on to answer questions from the board.
The appeal documents said on Sept. 5, the town’s LMO official, Teri Lewis, issued a notice of violation to Gould ordering him to remove “any encroachments” within the properties’ 10-foot shared boundary, or to apply to the board for a variance.
The FBOA, which filed its own appeal of the initial decision to waive setback and buffer requirements that permitted the common deck, claimed the deck was not included in the plans approved by its architectural review board. Town documents show the deck was built before a permit was obtained and was not included in plans submitted to the town.
Questioned during the BZA hearing by attorney Russell Patterson on behalf of the FBOA, Lewis said she considered the shared space between the properties in granting the waiver, adding she would have granted it even if the common deck had not yet been built.
Town officials have said previously the waiver is often used in commercial developments, such as businesses with shared parking spaces between buildings.
At the direction of Bennett, the town’s LMO Committee drafted an amendment to the LMO that would prohibit the waiver granted for the Heron Street development to be used in the future in single-family residential districts.
Among other changes to the LMO approved Tuesday were establishing criteria for granting the waiver, which, according to town documents, could include a cross-access easement agreement between two properties. The set of LMO amendments also includes changes to how far a deck or patio can encroach into a setback.
Lewis said before Tuesday’s meeting the proposed encroachment changes, though they could not be applied retroactively to the Heron Street homes, would not have allowed the common deck connecting the properties.
The LMO amendments require a second reading of Town Council before taking effect.