A proposal that Bluffton annex 18 acres along the May River for home lots and commercial space drew fire from residents at a town council meeting Tuesday night.
About 12 people criticized the request to annex the land on JC's Cove along May River Road, calling it a way to circumvent the tighter zoning and building restrictions set up along the riverfront. Several of the members of the May River Community Preservation Committee that helped set up the stricter zoning spoke against the annexation.
Jim Saba, the land's owner, filed an annexation petition in May that would allow him to divide a 13-acre parcel on the property into four lots. He hopes to build homes on the lots for his children.
The plan was unanimously approved by council on its first reading last month, but is now headed to a workshop with the town's Planning Commission.
Former committee member Peter Lamb said annexing the land would start to undo the work the committee did to protect the river and May River Road.
Other residents decried Saba's plan to build office space on a 1.5-acre parcel fronting May River Road. Elise Hill told council she was worried more commercial development could follow if Saba's request is granted.
Councilman Ted Huffman said council's approval of Saba's request would not mean the panel would OK every request for annexation that came afterward.
Huffman added the commercial aspect of the plan was only a small portion of it, The space would be used as Saba's personal office, Huffman said.
Annexing the land would also add water and sewer lines to land bordering the river since the town would require Saba to extend lines to his property, Mayor Lisa Sulka said. She said taking properties off septic tanks close to the May was a good reason to consider the Saba proposal. Huffman added it would be contradictory to the town's goal of protecting the river not to consider Saba's plan.
The planning commission will consider the plan next. No date for that consideration has been set.
In other action Tuesday, Town Council:
- Unanimously approved the addition of three new expenditures in the town's 2015 budget: $56,985 for workforce homeownership grants; $53,000 for the installation of a new phone system; and $25,000 for surveying work on Bluffton Parkway.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
- Bluffton weighing May River Road annexation proposal , Aug. 18, 2014