Beaufort County Council earned applause by taking a strong stand Monday night regarding rapid development.
It voted down a rezoning request for the 300-acre Hilton Head National golf course site that lies between Bluffton and the bridge to Hilton Head Island.
It’s easy to see why it was voted down.
The main reason is sticker shock.
The public was stunned to see what was requested for the site.
The zoning change would trigger a possible 300 homes, 300 apartments, 400,000 square feet of office space, a 500-room hotel, a 400-bed assisted living facility, a 1,500-seat performing arts center, a convention center and a water park. It led to talk of new schools, and a lot of parking space.
Also, the county said it would require some $12 million in road improvements off the property.
Naturally, the pushback was strong. Citizens said it would erode a way of life and a quality of life — and threaten the environment.
The landowner already cut back on some of its original plans. But maybe the landowner will now get the message that it is asking for too much.
Nevertheless, local activists have a bigger fight on their hands.
The bigger picture is that the area in question is clearly not rural, as the Hilton Head National site is currently zoned.
And the landowner is by no means required to keep a bucolic golf course on a tract that already is surrounded by the Bluffton Parkway, a residential neighborhood, a big box store, a shopping plaza, an outlet mall, apartments and a new flyover on the road to Hilton Head.
So where does the landowner turn? To the county planning department and county planning regulations.
And its plan that the public reviled had been approved, with caveats, by the county’s planning department, the county’s Planning Commission and a committee of County Council.
Despite Monday’s vote, which hopefully will result in something the public can live with, the bottom line is this:
The intense development that stunned the public is acceptable within the Beaufort County Community Development Code.
County Council and the county staff should now take time to better explain to the public how that happened and why.