Residents in the Folly Field area on Hilton Head’s north end spoke out Tuesday against allowing “lock-out” units in timeshares on the island, but the Town Council still approved the zoning law change.
Town staff have said the change came about following a request from Florida-based BlueGreen Vacation Rentals. Council members previously said the company wants to develop timeshares in the Folly Field area near Port Royal Plantation.
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“I know y’all work so hard and get very little attention and have good intentions,” Elaine Holliday Carnaath, a Folly Field resident, said prior to the council’s approval. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this is one of those. This would be hell for us.”
Lock-outs divide housing units into two or more by locking or sealing a door shut. The company has not publicly said why they want lock-out units. The zoning change will allow lock-outs in all timeshare properties on the island.
Shawn Zink, president of the Folly Field Property Owners Association, said many residents were still upset Wednesday about the council’s action.
“Nobody in our area knew anything about this until we saw an article (last week) in The Island Packet,” he said. “Everyone feels we are getting slighted by this with underhand things going on.”
Zink said property owners were already concerned by a 2015 zoning change for the Folly Field land, from mixed-used, planned development to resort development. He said allowing lock-outs on the property will increase traffic even more.
“We already have a traffic problem on the island,” Zink said. “We are one of the oldest residential neighborhoods on the island, and we feel it will change our community. We feel they really don’t care about the people who live here. All they care about is money.”
Mayor David Bennett and council member David Ames were the only two during Tuesday’s meeting to vote against the zoning change.
“I am looking at this with the history of my public planning experience,” Ames said. “It too narrowly focuses on a specific situation and ignores the entire picture. I believe these lock-out units increase the number of cars and people. It will burden the public sector.”
“It adds insult to injury with the expanding of the zone to allow lock-outs,” said Bennett.
But council member Marc Grant said he supported the zoning change because he believes property owners should have a right to develop land the way they want if the property use complies with the law.
“I can understand individuals’ concerns,” he said. “It is my opinion that if I own a piece of property that is zoned for that type of area, you have a right to use that property in that way.”
Lock-outs have been controversial in recent years in the South Forest Beach Drive area on the island’s south side, where some condominium owners have subdivided their properties into longer-term, relatively cheaper-rent units.
Proponents of those lock-outs say it allows landlords to collect more rent on a space, while opponents contend it is a safety risk and increases crime.
Correction: An initial version of this story ran an incorrect picture of a condominium complex identified in the picture.