After several years of talking about it and nearly a year after a committee was formed to do something about it, we might finally see specific suggestions for new redevelopment rules on Hilton Head Island.
If hiring a consulting firm for $200,000 gets the job of revamping the town's 35-year-old land management ordinance done, then we say good. A fresh set of eyes, outside expertise and experience doing this for other communities might be just what we need. The volunteer committee has found the work more than it could handle on its own.
Hilton Head certainly has its own set of peculiarities, including development rules for individual gated communities and their commercial areas set at varying times over the island's 56-year development history.
Town officials have pointed out that the land management ordinance was written to cool red-hot growth in the 1980s. Many of the properties that cry out for redeveloment were built before the town was incorporated in 1983 and before the growth-management ordinance became law in 1987.
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The mindset now is very different; the rules on building should reflect what the community needs today.
But they also must strive for the aesthetic balance sought and achieved under the old rules. Hilton Head need not -- and should not -- look like every other city in America. It should continue to set the standard for other communities.
Craig Richarson, vice president of Clarion Associates, the firm hired to do the work, said his group hopes to update and expedite procedures by elminating unnecessary review by boards and commissions and giving more authority to town staff.
Those who have complained about staff decisions and delays in the past may be put off by that. But reducing the number of steps to get a permit to build means some part of the current process has to go.
Other goals include consolidating zoning districts and allowing more uses in a particular area and reducing restrictions to "allow for market influence," Richardson said.
All of this could mean a lot of change in the way business is conducted on Hilton Head. Anyone concerned about that should pay attention in the eight months the work is expected to be done and speak up if you think it's off track.