After more than a half-decade of legal wrangling, development is moving forward on a 230-acre neighborhood planned for Pinckney Point, a peninsula between the Okatie and Colleton rivers.
Pinckney Point LLC, a Florida-based developer, won conceptual approval for the neighborhood Wednesday from Beaufort County's Development Review Team.
Initial drawings call for 76 homes, four community docks, 40 boat slips and a boat ramp. The lots would be served by septic systems, the plans say.
The project was mired in court battles for years, but Walter Nester, a McNair Law Firm attorney representing the owners, said the developers' plans for the neighborhood haven't changed.
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"This is the same plan that they've been putting forward since 2005, and they're very pleased that they received concept approval today," Nester said.
Several groups, including Beaufort County, have fought elements of the project, citing concerns for water quality in the two rivers. But it's unclear what options -- if any -- those opponents have left.
"At this point we remain opposed to the development of Pinckney Point, but we don't know what avenues remain to challenge the developer," said Mark Peterson, president of the Pinckney Colony Neighborhood Association.
The development has already cleared several legal hurdles.
Nearby residents tussled with the county over who owns two-tenths of a mile on an unpaved portion of Pinckney Colony Road, which leads to the proposed neighborhood.
In a separate dispute, developers argued with the county about moving that road away from the edge of the isthmus -- only about 150 feet wide -- that leads to Pinckney Point.
Nester said both those issues have been settled out of court, and developers now own the disputed road section.
Battles were also fought over the number of community docks at the site.
In 2007, property owners filed permits with a state agency to build seven docks and 70 boat lifts.
About 250 people attended a public hearing to oppose the plan.
State environmental officials ultimately granted permission for three docks and 30 lifts.
The developer appealed to the S.C. Administrative Law Court to increase that number.
Nester said the court ruled in the developers' favor in 2009 and granted them five docks. Developers then settled an appeal with the county by agreeing to build only four, he said.
The site plan presented Wednesday shows five dock locations, and Nester said no decision has been made yet about which four to build.
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.