Beaufort News

Residents to get chance to speak on community appearance

Consultants working on a new zoning code for much of Beaufort County will soon ask residents what they want their communities to look like.

Beaufort County, Port Royal and Beaufort contracted with Opticos Design of Berkeley, Calif., last year to create a multi-jurisdictional zoning code. After months of work by consultants and staff from each of the governments, a draft of that document could be released within weeks.

Beginning Monday in Port Royal, consultants will meet with residents to find out how they view their neighborhoods. Other workshops -- for southern Beaufort County, for Lady's and St. Helena islands, and for Beaufort -- will follow in coming months.

"We're going into the community to determine how people feel about the areas they live in and how that can be translated into a visual plan that is implemented by the written ordinance," said county planning director Tony Criscitiello.

Meetings in Port Royal will be held nightly from Oct. 24 to Oct. 27.

Stefan Pellegrini of Opticos Design said the goal is to give Port Royal and Shell Point residents a sense of how the regulations might shape their communities and to solicit their feedback.

Draft regulations will be proposed, but he said consultants will work with residents "to actually refine those standards."

During the day, consultants and architects will perform design work in a studio that will be open to the public.

Pellegrini described the process as a "feedback loop," in which consultants hear input, revise their plans, present the revisions, then repeat.

A final version of the code could be presented to each of the jurisdictions' governing councils early next year, Criscitiello said.

The new code will use form-based zoning, which focuses on buildings' appearance and surroundings, as opposed to traditional zoning, which emphasizes how buildings and lots will be used.

Proponents say form-based codes reduce urban sprawl and result in walkable communities, because commercial, residential and civic space can intermingle.

New zoning idea rejects car-based communities, Nov. 27, 2010

Public buy-in is a key component to new zoning philosophy, Nov. 27, 2010