Bluffton development on hold as County Council considers plans

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Beaufort County Council members narrowly voted to approve a Georgia developer's designs to build a large shopping center in greater Bluffton at their meeting Monday night in Beaufort. However, all of the council members said they wanted to discuss the plans further.

The vote was 6 to 5 in favor of the plans. Council members will further consider the stormwater management plans contained in the designs before council's third and final vote, scheduled for April 28.

Councilman Tabor Vaux and some local environmental leaders have raised questions about the percentage of hard surfaces -- such as rooftops, sidewalks and parking -- planned for the project. Those surfaces increase stormwater runoff, which can carry pollutants that reach local waterways -- in this case, the Colleton River.

Atlanta-based Jaz Development LLC has asked the 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 county stormwater manager Eric Larson.

The council will review the plan at a Natural Resources Committee meeting in the next two weeks, committee chairman Brian Flewelling said. It has not yet been scheduled.

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