Beaufort County is proposing zoning code revisions intended to promote pedestrian-friendly development in unincorporated areas.
County planners say their community-based code abandons a one-size-fits-all approach and tries to maintain a "sense of place" across a diverse mix of communities.
"We recognize that downtown Beaufort is different than the Corners community (on St. Helena Island), so to treat those two communities the same does not make sense," Rob Merchant, the county's long-range planner, said this week.
The code tries to steer long-term development toward walkability, even in smaller communities and rural hamlets such as Corners or Pritchardville. It favors roads that remove traffic from main highways.
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"Even in a rural area where you might have a corner store in a cluster of houses surrounding that corner store, there is still a semblance or opportunity for there to be connections in that small community and for it to function as a walkable community," Merchant said.
The plan also tries to preserve natural areas and prevent suburban sprawl.
The proposed code has been in development for more than a year and has not yet been made available for public review. Consulting firm Opticos provided the county with a draft code it says has been tailored to local conditions.
The county also is sharing the document with the city of Beaufort and the town of Port Royal, which are considering similar code changes. "The proposed code tells a citizen what the county wants, rather than telling the citizen what they cannot do," county planning director Anthony Criscitello said.
A joint review committee composed of County Council and Planning Commission members has started poring over the plan looking for minor issues. The goal is to get those questions settled before the formal review begins, committee chairman Brian Flewelling said.
County spokeswoman Joy Nelson said the proposed code will soon be publicly available on the county's website, www.bcgov.net.