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A ‘truck stop’ on Hilton Head? This south end neighborhood is in court over parking

Here’s how tractor trailers sound when they’re parked in your backyard.

The property owners' association at Oceanwalk Villas on Hilton Head's south end has been fighting tractor trailer parking behind their building for years. In this video, a property owner shares the "noisy" truck that was parked behind his home.
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The property owners' association at Oceanwalk Villas on Hilton Head's south end has been fighting tractor trailer parking behind their building for years. In this video, a property owner shares the "noisy" truck that was parked behind his home.

Bruce Bartow calls the area around his Hilton Head Island home “the truck stop.”

When he looks out his window on any given night, he sees between two and seven tractor trailers in the parking spots across from the Oceanwalk Villas on the island’s south end.

Oceanwalk shares a parking lot and spaces on Best Way with the Best Western Ocean Breeze Inn — a spot for both travelers moving through the island and construction crews working there. Bartow, who has been living at Oceanwalk for about nine years, said the trucks interrupt life in the tightly packed area of South Forest Beach.

The property owner’s association at Oceanwalk has tried to take a stand by towing a vehicle in the shared lot and discussing signage to deter truckers from parking nearby — but it’s landed them in court.

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Margaret Brannigan Submitted

In March, the company that owns the Best Western sued the POA for breaching its contract and the company’s rights to the shared parking lot, according to court documents filed in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas.

Hilton Head Hospitality, LLC also received a temporary restraining order so the POA could not interfere with guest parking.

A call to Ward Borden, the attorney representing Hilton Head Hospitality, was not returned Monday.

But the Oceanwalk POA said the parking issue threatens the entire lifestyle of the south end.

“The bottom line is South Forest Beach is a resort destination and there’s just no room for this kind of stuff,” Bartow said. They’re unsightly, noisy (and) smelly ... and they’re blocking a major beach thoroughfare.”

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Oceanwalk Villas, photographed Jan. 20, 2016, is a condominium complex on Hilton Head Island’s south end. Staff file photo

On an island that is grappling with space, traffic and development, there aren’t many spaces to park several tractor trailers and go unnoticed.

Contacted Monday by The Island Packet, the Holiday Inn Express and Home2 Suites offer tractor trailer parking. Other hotels outside gated communities including Grand Hilton Head Inn and the Days Inn by Wyndham do not.

The demand for parking on the island can put construction crews in a pinch — staying on the island overnight means avoiding rush hour traffic that can put crews behind.

Bartow and members of the Oceanwalk POA want the Town of Hilton Head Island government to get involved and draft an ordinance to ban the large trucks.

“If there’s no ordinance to address this, maybe now’s the time to do it,” Bartow said.

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Google Maps

But officials say there’s not much precedent for regulation.

Town code enforcement officers have gotten involved in the Oceanwalk parking lot debates, but have found no violation that warrants action, according to assistant town manager Josh Gruber.

“We’ve got somewhat of a limited role,” he said. “Being that these are parked on private property that the town has designated as a parking area.”

Gruber also said that when officers visited the property, “the people who are (parked) there have typically been staying there,” and noise complaints haven’t reached the threshold to be considered a violation of the town’s noise ordinance.

“Where it is to the advantage of HHI to allow large truck parking on South Forest Beach?” Bartow asked of his neighborhood, which he said once had a much higher crime rate and short-term rental rate. “It’s like turning the clock backwards.”

Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.

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