It's baffling that more realistic negotiations haven't taken place over the Graves' property along the Okatie River and U.S. 278. It's also appalling that the owners plan to petition the city of Hardeeville for annexation in order to more densely develop this vulnerable tract. One look at Hardeeville's history of disregard for zoning, signage, environment, etc., is an indicator of what can be expected along this major Beaufort County corridor.
Many of us moved here because this county is not developed like Myrtle Beach, nor is it a series of slip-shod Florida strip centers with tacky commercialization and blatant environmental disregard. Up to this point, I've been proud of the protection afforded critical lands and waters.
Yet, the Okatie's waters seem to have been of only mild concern to many within the county. Despite known, planned U.S. 278 improvements, which clearly make this property's frontage more commercially advantageous, the county nevertheless zoned it unrealistically as rural/agricultural. This resulted in a low-ball figure in stark contrast to the equally unrealistic figure of the Graves appraisal, one based on dense, commercial development.
If annexation is successful, county residents will likely see nearby waters ruined since narrow, proposed river buffers help only marginally. We'll also likely incur costs from increased infrastructure needs such as storm-water abatement.
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I question the apathy of many county commissioners. Before it is too late, let us hope they will more seriously negotiate for a more protective resolution.
Anita L. Hill