The Beaufort Redevelopment Commission presented a near-final draft of the Beaufort master plan at a public meeting April 30 at City Hall. Dozens of eye-catching renderings of dense urban developments were presented. It was difficult to recognize Beaufort as we know it today in the illustrations.
The consultants hired by the city to craft the plan have based their work on a transformation of Beaufort from the small town that it is to an urban community based on the anticipated doubling of its population. But this raises several questions in my mind: What data is this projected growth based on? Is Beaufort's infrastructure for stormwater, transportation and other services prepared to handle this growth?
If this growth and urbanization of small-town Beaufort occurs, our small town will look and feel like a very different place. As the citizens of Beaufort consider the proposed master plan up for consideration by City Council soon, we should ask ourselves: is this the Beaufort we truly want for the future?
Form-based planning and codes can be, overall, good concepts. But transforming Beaufort into a densely developed urban center? I'm not sure that's what the residents of Beaufort are looking for in the future -- or in a master plan.
We need a scaled-back, more realistic version of a plan that takes into account more than just the physical form, and that recognizes Beaufort as the charming, historic small town that it is and should continue to be.