A deal for the Beaufort County Open Land Trust to sell a small piece of land to Lady's Island Walmart developers will move forward despite second thoughts from the conservation group.
Land Trust officials asked developer WRS, Inc. about the possibility of backing out of the sale agreement after some of the organization's members expressed concern. Kevin Rogers, of WRS, told the group the deal was done and a plan in place for the site, Land Trust director Cindy Baysden said.
The parcel occupies two-tenths of an acre near the intersection of Sea Island Parkway and Airport Circle, on the outskirts of the planned Island Shoppes development that will include a Walmart.
Despite the Land Trust's mission statement to "protect land permanently," its leaders are at peace parting with land they said was small and held no conservation value. The Land Trust acquired the land in 1976 to shield a Beaufort County dump site.
"It would not screen Walmart," Land Trust board of trustees president Trish Irwin said.
Proceeds from the $50,000 sale could go toward the Boundary Street park project in Beaufort to pay down the Land Trust's purchase of the United Way building, Baysden and Irwin said. The building will be demolished to help create a passive park and open views of Battery Creek.
Baysden said she was told by developers that the Lady's Island parcel would be landscaped as a buffer area and wouldn't be paved. She asked for that promise in writing and is awaiting a response.
Rogers, with WRS, declined comment Friday.
The Land Trust's property is shown on WRS development plans as fronting an acre-sized outparcel available for lease.
In deciding to sell late last year, the Land Trust's land committee walked the site to get a feel for its size and conservation value. The full board of trustees later voted to approve the sale.
Some Land Trust members and area residents recently raised concerns about the sale, which caused staff to revisit the deal. Baysden described the limited scope of the property and some of the angst eased.
"It's not something that we make a habit of," Baysden said of the sale. "But in this particular case, it just wasn't going to make an impact."
Sitework on the long-awaited Walmart property is expected to begin any day. City of Beaufort officials have warned area residents to expect a jarring level of clear-cutting and heavy activity as an estimated 20,000 truckloads of dirt are brought in to the raise the 26-acre site.