The owners of a divisive Bluffton golf course have released more details about their plans for a luxury RV park even as their lawsuit against Beaufort County and its zoning regulations continues.
Scratch Golf LLC announced Friday that it wants to use nearly a third of the roughly 300-acre course for the park which, according to spokesman Tom Gardo, is planned to include 350 parking pads for upscale vehicles.
Those vehicles likely cost anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million, Gardo said Monday.
While the owners aren't yet willing to disclose the facility's projected cost and pad-rental prices, Gardo said, they will say the park could include swimming pools and pickleball courts, among other amenities. And those features, according to Gardo, will only be available to patrons who pay to stay in the park — the golf course will remain public.
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"They wanted to keep the golf course," Gardo said, when asked about the origins of the project. He added Scratch Golf thought the park "would be amenable and a benefit to the course," an idea that was "good for the area that people wouldn't push back on."
Collins Doughtie — who's been a vocal opponent of past Scratch Golf plans, and who writes a column for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette — said he's waiting for more details about the park before offering an opinion.
"It's a hell of a lot better than what they did originally," Doughtie said, referring to past Scratch Golf plans that included, among other things, hundreds of apartments and single-family homes, an assisted-living facility, a performing arts center, a convention center and hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space.
Still, Doughtie raised questions about storm water runoff, the potential cost to the public and traffic concerns.
"I guess it seems a little odd after the brouhaha we had the first go around," Caporale said.
"It's an interesting idea, it really is," he continued. "And that" — meaning the park's fit with the property's current rural zoning classification — "makes it pretty tough to argue against, that it's by-right."
But Caporale said he was interested to see how his colleagues on council would respond, and how the planned park might affect Scratch Golf's current lawsuit against the county.
That lawsuit, filed in October after Hilton Head National owners felt they weren't given fair consideration when they proposed to rezone the property, is ongoing, according to attorney Jeff Tibbals, who represents Scratch Golf, a subsidiary of the Virgina-based firm the United Company.
The suit came four months after Beaufort County Council voted to deny a rezoning of the property along U.S. 278 in greater Bluffton, and about four years after the owners first submitted plans to the county to transform the course.
"I think the complaint speaks for itself," Tibbals said Monday when asked if there was a connection between the lawsuit and the planned park. "And Scratch Golf is attempting to mitigate any adverse impacts of the re-zoning denial."
Tibbals said his client "remains open to a negotiated resolution of its claims."
He added there are "no formal settlement discussions at the present time."
Gardo said current plans include five swimming pools, a dog park, a general-use park, nature trails and tennis and pickleball courts. An "amenities building" with snack and laundry facilities is also planned.
RVs will enter the park from Bluffton Parkway using the same entrance golfers use to access the course. But once on the property, a new road — not yet cut — will take them to park area and parking pads. The new road, Gardo said, was proposed to eliminate potential traffic back-up on the parkway.
"It's going to be very upscale," Gardo said. "When (Scratch Golf) were doing their studies, they found there was a shortage of luxury RV parks around the country."
When asked if the park was a last-ditch effort to save the golf course, Gardo said: "I wouldn't say that."
"The point is that, not only does it keep the golf course, but it contributes to its financial stability."