If you missed my column last week, I admitted that I had become boring in my writing. That said, I rambled on about conversations I had with a pileated woodpecker and an owl. Since then, I have received e-mails and phone calls all asking me the same question: “What drug were you on when you wrote that?”
So that you know, it’s called genetics, and I seriously doubt there is a generic brand on the market.
You may or may not find this column boring, but there are a couple of things I need to get off my chest and, hopefully, it will grab your attention and keep you until the last sentence. I know you prefer humor or wacky stories about the one that got away, fish wrestling or what is was like in the good old days, but for most of this week I have been consumed with the desire to save our Lowcountry from changes that I personally feel will affect a lifestyle that I have cherished most all of my life.
But before I go down that road — or perhaps four-lane highway — there is some exciting news on the fishing front regarding a fish that, when mentioned, glazes over the eyes of nearly every fisherman. The cobia.
This past week, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council finally made some decisions that just might help save these awesome fish. Starting with the size requirements, the new regulations for keeping a cobia will change from a 33-inch fork length to a 36-inch fork length.
Secondly, the two-fish limit per person is out the window and, though I still think they need to do more in that area, the new regulations are one fish per person with a six-fish per boat, per day limit. For commercial boats, the limit is two fish per person per day or six fish per boat, per day, whichever is more restrictive.
As for our state waters, nothing has changed. May will be closed for harvesting cobia and before and after that month, it is one fish per person, per day with a three fish per boat limit.
At least it’s a start in the right direction, but with so much pressure being put on these awesome fish, I feel the limit is still way too liberal. Here’s food for thought: When the cobia run hits our area, most very big cobia is a pregnant female looking to drop her millions of eggs.
OK, enough of that. This next soapbox standup affects the Bluffton area but, for you Beaufort folks, the subject matter is one that you too are now facing. Having attended both zoning meetings regarding the development of what is currently the Hilton Head National Golf Course, this past week the zoning board voted 5-3 to let this area be developed.
Both representatives from the Bluffton area voted no, but to no avail. I have been telling people in Bluffton about the plans and, without exception, the reaction has been “Oh, my God.”
Though not within the Town of Bluffton, I was amazed that not one person from the Bluffton Town Council attended either meeting because it will affect the town whether they want to admit it or not.
Here are the facts as they now stand: On approximately 300 acres, the plans call for at least 600 homes and apartments, 400,000 square feet of retail space, a 500-room hotel, a 100,000 square-foot convention center, a 1,500-seat performing-arts center, a 400-bed assisted living facility, a huge water park with 650 parking spaces, two schools for 1,200 students, 125,000 square feet of office space and four-laning a stretch of Malphrus Road, including a roundabout.
Including myself, quite a few folks got up in the public comment period and pointed questions were put before the board. If I had to pick two of the most-asked questions, they were traffic impact and stormwater runoff into both the May River and MacKay Creek.
If you work on Hilton Head, then you know that every single morning traffic is backed up past the entrance to Hilton Head National. The traffic studies by the developer didn’t even include weekends, especially during the peak months when tourists are trying to get on Hilton Head.
Secondly, with that much impervious surface, where will the runoff go? When I asked about recycling stormwater, no answer was given.
A 1,500-seat performing arts center? Look at the Self Family Arts Center on Hilton Head Island sitting there empty. And for all of you living along Alljoy Road or Foreman Hill Road, can you imagine the amount of traffic as people living in that complex head to Bluffton?
This development is so over the top and full of holes that if it makes it through the County Council, Pandora’s Box will definitely be open. It will affect the quality of life for thousands of us that live here, and that includes Bluffton.
I plan to act. But the bigger question is this: Will you?