Some residents are worried proposed land-use changes could lead to more timeshares on Hilton Head Island.
The changes would eliminate a review process for proposed timeshare developments and broaden the area where timeshares could rise.
But those who drafted the changes say there is no need for alarm.
Timeshares are the same as other multi-family properties, they argue. And the land-use code won't allow the Hilton Head beachfront to be transformed into a Myrtle Beach-style skyline.
"Nobody is pulling a plug on a floodgate here," said Walter Nester, a Hilton Head attorney who serves on the Land Management Ordinance Rewrite Committee that drafted the changes.
Currently, proposed timeshares must go before the town Board of Zoning Appeals to receive a special exemption to be built. That process would be eliminated under the changes. The last timeshare proposal to come before the board was nearly a decade ago, according to town land management official Teri Lewis.
Timeshares also are currently restricted to certain zoning districts, such as parts of Squire Pope Road, Forest Beach and Beach City Road. Several timeshares were built before the current code. Most are in planned-unit developments, such as Shipyard or Port Royal plantations, and are governed by those communities' rules, according to Lewis
Under the changes, timeshares would be treated the same way as a proposed condominium or apartment complex. They could be built in more places, including any zoning district that allows multi-family buildings. This includes Coligny, Sea Pines Circle and Main Street.
The proposal has riled some residents who fear that easing restrictions would allow timeshares to spread.
In a letter to Town Council members, an attorney for Edgewater property owners, a development along Broad Creek, said timeshares are different than other rentals.
Timeshares have greater visitor turnover, cause more traffic, generally have more units, are subject to less control by the unit owner and often devalue adjacent property, wrote attorney Michael Mogil. Attempts Friday to reach Mogil were unsuccessful.
Combine those differences with no oversight by a town board and "the unique character and quality of life offered by Hilton Head is jeopardized."
"Without safeguards, there is a risk that our land-use patterns transform into that experienced in Myrtle Beach (and) Orlando."
Members of the rewrite committee disagree.
They argue there is no difference between a timeshare and a vacation rental.
"People check in to both one Saturday and check out the next Saturday," said committee member Jim Gant.
Nester said regulating timeshares but not other rental properties would be unfair and hurt redevelopment.
"We'd be prohibiting developers from doing certain things in areas where it might work," he said.
Gant added that ending timeshare regulation would not cause a rash of unsightly developments. Timeshares would still need to meet land-use requirements such as density, buffers and a necessary amount of parking spaces.
The changes to timeshares are part of a sweeping revision to town code intended to encourage redevelopment. Town officials say the proposed code allows for a broader range of land uses and reduces building restrictions.
The changes will be discussed Sept. 2 by Town Council.
The Planning Commission will make revisions Sept. 24. Council will take a final vote on the changes Oct. 7, Lewis said.
Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.