Real Estate

Changes made to Pepper Hall development plan, Beaufort Co. councilman says. Is it enough?

Here’s where Beaufort County stands with Pepper Hall — and when you can have a say

Beaufort County's been back-and-forth with land owner Robert Graves on development ideas for the land at Pepper Hall Plantation since 2012. They're now one step away from finalizing an agreement. Here's where they stand.
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Beaufort County's been back-and-forth with land owner Robert Graves on development ideas for the land at Pepper Hall Plantation since 2012. They're now one step away from finalizing an agreement. Here's where they stand.

The final proposal to develop the controversial Pepper Hall Plantation property eliminates two of four major sticking points, a Beaufort County Council member said Tuesday.

Owner Robert Graves has agreed to give up the open land space exemption the county was slated to grant him, according to Councilman Mike Covert.

Graves has also agreed to the elimination of a proposed land swap that would have seen the county relinquish 2.5 acres of Okatie River-front land for 1.5 acres of property further inland, Covert said.

“It’s the shiny new bicycle people wanted for Christmas,” Covert said Monday of the revised deal.

The original deal called for the county’s 18 acres of land, which it purchased from Graves in 2013, to count toward an open land requirement he would need to fulfill if he pursues development of his remaining 83 acres of property.

Barry Johnson, Graves’ attorney, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

County Councilman Brian Flewelling, who heads the county’s Natural Resources Committee, did not return four phone calls seeking comment on the new proposal.

The two remaining sticking points — the county’s $2 million contribution to pave Graves Road, which leads into Pepper Hall, and a 50-50 cost share of stormwater maintenance throughout any development — remain part of the proposal, Covert said.

Opponents remained cautious Tuesday.

Rikki Parker, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, said council deserves credit for addressing the Rural and Critical Lands components of the deal, but she still plans to talk about the other issues when the agreement goes before council.

“It’s good to see the county respond to those concerns,” she said. “If the rumors are true, we definitely want to praise the county. But we still want to see the data behind the 50-50 stormwater split and make sure that agreement is equitable for the county.”

The revised agreement will come before Beaufort County Council for a final public hearing and reading at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at a meeting at the county’s administration building, 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort.

Alec Snyder has been the growth and development reporter at The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. He covers Beaufort County and Bluffton government, along with housing affordability throughout the area. Alec is from Philadelphia and an alum of The George Washington University.
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