Although I grew up on Hilton Head Island, my 18 years here living on Oyster Street in Bluffton have been amazing.
When I moved into my house, it was nothing more than a fishing shack. The ceilings were low, it was without central heating and air, and there wasn't a hint of insulation. Then on one of the coldest winter days, I snapped and knocked out every one of the cheap, single-pane windows and then, with only one other person, I began remodeling the house.
Why am I telling you this? On that same winter day when I flipped out, I decided to make Bluffton my home for the remainder of my days on this earth.
To say my neighborhood is funky is an understatement. The entire spectrum of humanity lives there. We have one or two eccentrics, two woodworkers, a fire chief, a gardener, writers, musicians, but we all get along -- to the point that when you run out of butter, you can walk right into a neighbor's house to get some. Add to that, there are street parties where we set up tables in the middle of the street itself, dock parties, oyster roasts ... it's a real slice of heaven. It's straight out of the days of old and, God willing, it will always stay that way.
In those 18 years, though, things have changed. It used to be that in an hour's time, maybe four or five cars would pass Oyster Street heading to the boat landing at the end of Alljoy Road. Nowadays, that number has quadrupled, and that's OK. Most everyone is heading to what brought most of us all here in the first place -- the water.
Right now, I'm worried about that water.
Jaz Development LLC from Atlanta is coming here to build a grand shopping center at the corner of S.C. 46 and U.S. 278. They have asked Beaufort County to allow more than the recommended 10 percent limit of paved and other hard surfaces for the shopping center. Preliminary plans show 14.4 percent of surfaces in that category, according to a story in The Island Packet.
This means they'd be dumping more tainted runoff water into the pristine Colleton River. I read the profile on Jaz's website in which David Oliver, Jaz's president, talks about his philosophy of "sensitivity and ethics" in development. In my opinion, if Jaz really wants to be part of this community, it will stick to the guidelines set for runoff.
If you really love Bluffton -- and if this worries you, too -- take five minutes to email David. Let him know that he should stick to the 10 percent runoff or not come here at all. Maybe, just maybe, we can convince him that we value our way of life more than we value his plans.
If we don't all stand up to this, there is no going back. I did it back when the BASF chemical plant was going to be built where the Waddell Mariculture Center now sits, and it worked. If we were able to stop a giant like that, we surely should be able to stop this.
David Oliver's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His address is David Oliver, Jaz Development, LLC, Suite 700, 595 E. Crossville Road, Roswell, GA 30075.
Time is running out.
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.