A modified proposal to convert Daufuskie Island's Bloody Point Golf Course into a hospitality district with an inn and homes has been approved by Beaufort County's planning commission, putting the plan before County Council next month.
Revisions were presented to scale back a proposed inn from 120 rooms to 60, as well as halve the surrounding commercial space to 25,000 square feet. The commission, which made a field trip to Bloody Point last week for more study, voted Monday night to approve the zoning change.
The plan now goes before the council's Natural Resources committee.
"We're excited to move to the next step," course owner Brian McCarthy said Tuesday. "We'll be working very steadily for the next several weeks to get all our ducks in a row."
McCarthy, who sank $2 million into restoring the golf course after purchasing it out of bankruptcy in 2011, has said he has no immediate plans to close the course. But after more than two years of steep operating losses, he seeks to eventually reposition the property as a venue for destination weddings or similar events.
"I believe the plan that we submit to you is the single best chance for long-term success at Bloody Point," McCarthy told the commission.
"I'd really hate to have to close the golf course. I'd like to have the golf course in operational condition when we move forward with the plan."
The commission voted 6-1 to approve the proposal. Chairman Robert Semmler cast the lone dissenting vote, voicing disappointment that McCarthy and planners hadn't made more of an effort to bring other agencies on the island into the loop.
"I thought more input from the Daufuskie Island interests would be important," Semmler said. "This is a major change."
The proposal also would permit an additional 150 housing units to be built over outlying segments of the course, leaving some 68 acres preserved as open space.
Nearly a dozen Bloody Point residents spoke before the commission, the majority in support of a plan that will cause them to lose their golf course.
"We would love to look out an an unused golf course forever, but we are realists," said resident Mike Loftus, owner of Daufuskie Wine & Woodworks. "While sad, we completely understand that a golf course at Bloody Point never has and simply can't support itself."
Bob Webb voiced strong support, even though he anticipated he would be the homeowner most affected by the change. Newly retired after 40 years as an attorney, he not only has looked forward to more time on the golf course, but his home will be the closest single-family residence to the proposed inn and beach club.
"Both will be literally steps from my driveway," he said, adding that was better than the weeds and disrepair the golf course showed during bankruptcy.
"It was attractive only to the snakes and gators, and was safe only for snakes and gators," he said. "It lowered our property values and dampened our spirits. ... I never want to go back to that, and I don't think there are many people who do."
Opponents suggested too many new visitors would alter the character of the Bloody Point community.
"My concern would be the impact it's going to have on the natural serenity of the place," resident Mike Andrews said. "It's very calm, a very quiet beach ... and now we're adding potentially 250 bedrooms to this plan."
Similar concerns did prompt the decision to scale back the inn, which would be built using the current clubhouse as an anchor.
"That was really more in line with their comfort level," McCarthy said. "It was a consistent thought pattern and something that needed to be altered immediately."
McCarthy noted that the old Melrose Inn, once part of the Daufuskie Island Resort along with Bloody Point, was a 52-room facility.
"I think they felt comfortable with that size inn," McCarthy said.
Plans for commercial space were likewise scaled back, adding provisions that no building would exceed 15,000 square feet in size or 35 feet in height.
Reach golf reporter Jeff Shain on Twitter at twitter.com/jeffshain.