Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island invites advice on what should come next

Attempts are under way to breathe new life into Charles Fraser's 50-year-old vision for his signature resort and residential community.

Sea Pines' Community Services Associates is seeking input from property owners, neighborhood associations, resort members and businesses within the gated community on a strategic plan for 1,200 acres of common areas over the next 10 to 20 years.

The plan will address transportation, roads, parking, leisure trails, parks, lagoons, gardens, landscaping, lighting, mailboxes, signs, stormwater management and environmental stewardship, according to a news release.

Like much of Hilton Head Island, Sea Pines is aging and must plan for redevelopment, CSA executive vice president Cary Kelley said.

"We need to get back to the vision of Sea Pines (founder) Charles Fraser and adapt that to the changing needs of the modern day," he said. "We need to get back to a consistency in our architectural review and planning guidelines and back in tune with the environment."

For example, Kelley said he would like to Sea Pines move away from highly manicured lawns to more natural, indigenous landscapes, in keeping with Fraser's concept of blending development with nature. He also would like to see more water conservation as saltwater intrusion continues to contaminate island wells.

The CSA board hired DesignWorks, a Charleston land-planning firm, as a consultant for the project. In 2009, the CSA board created a task force of representatives from the gated community's property owners, resort and commercial organizations to get started on the plans.

"The biggest challenge was being sure we captured the core values of Charles Fraser's vision -- the idea the community is a mixed-use residential and destination resort that blends itself into nature, and is environmentally sensitive," said Don Carlson, who served on the task force.

Sea Pines must adapt to new technology, new economic pressures and new competition, Carlson said.

"I don't think the vision is obsolete today. ... I think there is greater pressure for us to keep our identity and keep our focus while framing it in the world of 2010 and moving forward," he said. "I think this is one of the most exciting opportunities a community would have."