Developers of a proposed greater Bluffton-area RV park hit a bit of a snag when county staffers sent them away with "homework" and deferred ruling on their conceptual plans at Wednesday's staff review team meeting.
It was not the reaction Scratch Golf LLC — owner of Hilton Head National Golf Course and hopeful developer of a luxury RV "resort" on the property — was expecting.
"We were completely ready (for the meeting)," said Bluffton attorney Barry Johnson, who represents Scratch Golf. He added that he thought the review team would "approve the project with conditions" instead of deferring a decision to a future meeting.
And Johnson noted that the county's traffic engineer wasn't at the meeting and was thus unable to discuss issues.
Regardless, developers will have address follow-up questions about tree removal and parking pad construction, among other things. They'll have to satisfy some staffers who want more specificity — and firmer plans — at the conceptual stage.
And while Wednesday's meeting didn't advance the project, it offered more insight as to how the RV park will look and operate.
Here are three things we learned:
Fewer RV parking pads?
When the project was first announced in April, developers planned for 350 pads, but that number could change.
Nathan Long of Thomas & Hutton Engineering said that number was "down to 339," and Johnson later said that number "could continue to reduce."
When asked why after the meeting, Johnson said some sites had been eliminated to improve access to other pads, create more buffer area near wetlands and preserve trees.
No live-in manager
Johnson said the property manager would not live on site.
Beaufort County Planning Director Tony Criscitiello said, from his experience, that can be problematic.
"Food for thought," Criscitiello said. "The important thing for me to impart to you is that, when the RV manager is not residing on site, he expects the county government to police his site (to ensure people aren't staying past 180 days and, therefore, technically residing in the county)."
But Johnson said stays at the park would not be nearly that long, and Scratch Golf could reassess the matter at a later date should the need arise.
Bob Lowman, president of Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort's property owners' association, was the only member of the public to speak at the meeting.
And he offered assistance to both the county and Scratch Golf.
"We have a lot of rules and regulations you guys might want to look at," Lowman said. "We have a 90-day rule — every 90 days, you've got to pull out and leave the park and come back."
He suggested Scratch Golf consider a similar rule to prevent people from turning parking pads into home sites. Again, Johnson said he didn't envision guests staying that long.
"As far as our resort, we're not opposed to this at all," Lowman said. "Competition is a great thing."
Scratch Golf will have to receive staff review team approval before the project can advance to final review.
Johnson said he expects to be back in front of the team in a few weeks.
The project does not need approval from Beaufort County Council because it's a by-right development allowed by Hilton Head National's zoning classification.
In the past, Scratch Golf proposed a massive and controversial residential and commercial project on the course.
And in October, Scratch Golf sued the county after it denied a request to change the course's zoning to accommodate suc
h a project.
That suit is pending.