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A ‘solution’ for affordable housing? 282 homes could be coming to Bluffton

Photos show how four Bluffton neighborhoods grew

The Beaufort County School District says Bluffton's growth will soon cause overcrowding at two of it's newest elementary schools. These neighborhoods – Cypress Ridge, Heritage at New Riverside and Lawton Station – fall into Pritchardville Elementa
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The Beaufort County School District says Bluffton's growth will soon cause overcrowding at two of it's newest elementary schools. These neighborhoods – Cypress Ridge, Heritage at New Riverside and Lawton Station – fall into Pritchardville Elementa

A plan to add 282 homes to the Alston Park development in Bluffton’s New Riverside area was moved forward by the Town of Bluffton Town Council Tuesday night.

But moving forward doesn’t mean total approval.

Many affordable housing projects appear to be in the pipeline in Bluffton, according to Mayor Lisa Sulka, who said she isn’t sure when this project will be put in place since there are others ahead of it in the “queue” for the negotiating committee.

“We can’t rush anything else, especially in a critical area of our stormwater watershed,” she said.

The houses are being proposed by Village Park Homes, a development group that has announced at least three developments in the Bluffton and Hilton Head area in recent months.

Currently, the 67-acre plot of land in the Alston Park area is authorized to have 76 units on it. The request would nearly triple that number.

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A conceptual drawing of the Alston Park neighborhood, which Town of Bluffton Town Council will hear on June 11. Village Park Homes Town of Bluffton application materials

Village Park Homes’ presentation says the homes will be a “solution” to Bluffton’s affordable housing problems, and the homes will be priced between $175,000 and $310,000, and be directed toward people earning between 60 percent and 100 percent of the area median income of $83,000 for a four-person household.

Since the request was sent to the negotiating committee, that committee can help determine how many of the units will be sold at each price point, according to Kevin Icard with the town’s planning department.

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Town of Bluffton

The Alston Park area is planned to be a community of 552 homes, but planning has not begun on the final phase of the project, according to the presentation.

In the application to the town, Village Park Homes asked for a 25 percent reduction in several development fees:

  • Master plan application fee: $500
  • Development plan application fee: $1,500
  • Subdivision plan application fee: $100 + $10 per lot
  • Building permit application fee: Based on construction value of the building
  • Development agreement fees: $2,000

The affordable housing committee “strongly supports” the project, council member Fred Hamilton said Tuesday night.

“This is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to truly trying to make an impact on quality of life for our Bluffton citizens,” Hamilton said.

Four calls to Village Park Homes over two days were not returned.

What’s next?

With council’s approval, the request goes to the town negotiating committee. That committee will recommend whether or not to send approval of the plan to the planning commission.

If approved there, Village Park Homes will need to submit several applications to amend the land plans for the New Riverside concept plan and Jones Estate tract of land, Icard said.

After planning commission hears the request, it’ll be subject to a public workshop before making its way back to Town Council for a final reading.

“The process that was laid out is in intense and its a very public process and there’s many opportunities along the way to tweak and adjust,” council member Dan Wood said of the process.

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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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