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Owner of fence blocking Hilton Head bike path gets 5 days to take it down, town says

A fence blocking bike traffic near the entrance to Hilton Head Plantation on July 3, 2019. A property owners association near the pathway put up the fence to avoid liability since it empties into a parking lot.
A fence blocking bike traffic near the entrance to Hilton Head Plantation on July 3, 2019. A property owners association near the pathway put up the fence to avoid liability since it empties into a parking lot. Special to The Island Packet

The Town of Hilton Head Island has given the owner of an office park whose fence is blocking a bike path from Hilton Head Plantation five days to remove it, according to an email from leaders to the community.

Main Street Office Park is directly outside the gates of Hilton Head Plantation, and for 28 years its parking lot has been at the end of a Plantation-owned bike path. Earlier this month, the office park installed a fence to block bicyclists from riding through the parking lot — effectively pushing bike traffic into Whopping Crane Way and the nearby traffic circle.

On July 10, town officials said the fence wasn’t adequately permitted and must be removed by July 15.

Citing liability, office park representative Katie Thompson said the fence was installed because “the parking lots and roadways of our complex have become increasingly busy ... The fact that nothing has happened in the past is no guarantee that something will not happen in the future.”

Thompson said the property owner offered two solutions to Plantation general manager Peter Kristian shortly after the fence was installed:

  1. Main Street Office Park would remove the fence if Hilton Head Plantation would assume any liability from Hilton Head Plantation cyclists or pedestrians entering the parking lot.
  2. The office park would donate the property or the right of access needed to extend the path safely parallel to the road.

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A fence blocking bike traffic near the entrance to Hilton Head Plantation on July 3, 2019. A property owners association near the pathway put up the fence to avoid liability since it empties into a parking lot. Carol Pollard-Huester Special to The Island Packet

Kristian said those offers should have been discussed before building a fence, and the owner “made no attempt to contact (Hilton Head Plantation) about any liability concerns, or that they were considering such drastic actions.”

Hilton Head Plantation owns the bike path and the nearby traffic circle.

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A bike pathway shown in purple on Whopping Crane Way in Hilton Head Plantation abruptly ends in the Main Street Office Park Parking lot. This week, the owner of the office park put up a fence to stop cyclists and pedestrians from using the path. Katherine Kokal Google Maps

Perhaps, Kristian said, Hilton Head Plantation should block access to the traffic circle that connects Whooping Crane Way and Main Street, where the office park is, to keep from assuming liability for the traffic coming from that street.

Kristian said he would be conveying Thompson’s contact information to residents so she could “experience the sentiments of our residents regarding your actions firsthand.”

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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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