Cast & Blast

Nature can’t stand up for itself, so make your voice heard

Do you have plans for 6 p.m. Thursday? If so, do those plans include a movie or taking the kids to Sonic for a burger and cheesy fries? If I guessed correctly, then you can stop reading this column right now.

I know that intro was a bit dramatic, but it was the only way I think of getting your attention to a matter that can, and will, affect any of you that care what direction Bluffton takes from here on out.

Remember a column I wrote some time ago that tried to urge you to attend the Beaufort County Council meeting when the council approved the development at the corner of Highway 46 and U.S. 278? Only two of us showed up at that meeting to ask questions about where stormwater runoff would go. Not even the folks who live along the Colleton River took the time to attend.

That absolutely blew my mind. It wasn’t until construction was nearly complete that I started seeing all sorts of letters to the editor from irate citizens asking how that developer was able to erect a huge concrete wall within a few yards of Highway 46. I could ask those same folks where they were when the plans were approved but, as they say, it’s all water under the bridge — or in this particular case, water into the river.

So what bee is under my bonnet this time? The area long known as the Hilton Head National Golf Club is asking to be rezoned from rural to residential and commercial property.

First of all, I am not against development. I may have been anti-development long ago, but having seen the changes since I moved here back in the early 1960s, I guess you can say I am numb to it all.

But in the same breath, I care if development disregards what nature has spent millions of years creating. Take wetlands, for instance. They evolved to act as filters for stormwater runoff and, in the process, they protect fragile saltwater ecosystems.

Though plans for the Hilton Head National area that runs along Foreman Hill Road and extends almost to the stoplight just before the new flyover to Hilton Head have not been set in stone, here is what my research and conversations with the zoning board has gathered: 500 single-family homes, 400 multi-family homes, 250 assisted-living homes, plus a rather expansive commercial development along the parcel bordering the Bluffton Parkway. That is a heck of a lot of people and traffic.

My biggest questions revolve around stormwater runoff. With no figures available on how much of this area will be concrete, asphalt and other impervious surfaces, where will that runoff go? Since it’s within spitting distance of both McKay’s Creek and the May River, I can make a good guess.

Are they going to construct a system for reusing all runoff? I have seen maps of the proposed development that include stormwater impoundments, but in the event of a huge rain event, what then?

With that many homes and people, you can imagine that some percentage of them will buy boats, so where will they launch their boats? The Alljoy Landing? That landing can’t even handle the number of boats that currently try to launch there.

Another issue: That property is not in the Town of Bluffton, but rather part of unincorporated Beaufort County. Are representatives from the town going to attend this meeting? They should, because all these people are going to add to the already congested infrastructure in downtown Bluffton.

These are but a handful of the questions I would ask at Thursday’s meeting. If this rezoning is approved and questions aren’t asked (or answered), then we all deserve the consequences of our inaction.

This is a big deal, folks. Luckily this meeting will be held at the Bluffton Library and not in Beaufort, so it should be easier for all of us who work in the area to attend. Please take the time to make it to this meeting. We have to make it clear that nothing less than perfection will be accepted. Nature cannot speak for itself, nor can it ask questions. We can.

Beaufort County Council rezoning hearing

WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Bluffton Library

TOPIC: Rezoning for Hilton Head National property along Bluffton Parkway