Here’s what you need to know about Pepper Hall before the “Good Old Boys” on Beaufort County Council take the taxpayers for a one-way ride.
The Beaufort County Rural & Critical Land Preservation Program purchased 18 acres at the headwaters of the Okatie River for $4.5 million from Robert Graves. Now he is moving forward, as he is entitled to do, with developing the remaining 83 acres adjacent to Berkeley Hall and U.S. 278 with at least 680 dwellings and 350,000 square feet of commercial space.
The county development ordinance requires an open space set-aside. However, under the 42-page development agreement drafted by Mr. Graves’s lawyer, the county gives him “credit” for the 18 acres he got $4.5 million for. No new open space will be set aside.
The agreement calls for a “passive park” on the 18 acres, including “... docks, piers and shed buildings, restroom facilities and services” that will create “substantial stormwater runoff for which the county agrees to bear the expense for Okatie Park.”
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In addition, the county will chip in $2 million for improvements to Graves Road, which is a private road. No deed is on record otherwise, but the development agreement provides that, “County and owner acknowledge that the existing Graves Road is a public-use roadway currently maintained by the county as an unpaved dirt road and that actual ownership is unknown.”
There is more, but you get the drift.
County Council members Paul Sommerville, Alice Howard, Gerald Dawson and York Glover are fighting the good fight and suggested that a final vote be delayed until four new council members are seated in a few weeks. They were voted down 6-4. Dec 10 is the next show.
Pepper Hall a lie to voters
Beaufort County voters have been lied to again, this time about Pepper Hall.
I am shocked that a majority of the elected officials of the Beaufort County Council have decided their wishes and wisdom are greater than those of the voters.
Voters passed, by more than a 70 percent majority, the Rural and Critical Lands referendum. The ink is barely dry on that strong show of support for preserving our local environment when six of the 10 voting County Council members followed their own interests and opinions and voted to countermand the voice of the voters and to allow a dense development to occur on the banks of the Okatie River, an estuary of the Port Royal Sound.
We voted to preserve that “critical” land. Now, it seems, it is critical only to the developers, who have contributed to the campaign of at least one current council member.
Further, council has decided that we the voters and taxpayers are going to help pay for the developers’ cost for stormwater management. What a sweet deal that is.
Eco-tourism? Environmental stewardship? Just doing the right thing? Listening to residents?
My vote is “no” for the reelection of any council members who voted to subjugate the decision of the voters and the constituents they supposedly represent. Once again, elected officials decided to bow to the wishes of developers.
Hilton Head Island
Pepper Hall makes no sense
Thanks for the excellent article on the debacle of a deal between Beaufort County and Pepper Hall owner. The county is inexcusably giving away millions. It appears Robert Graves owns both the property and the council agenda? Or are they all related? Nothing else makes sense.
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