Cast & Blast

Do it right or don’t do it at all

A wayward sturgeon turned up in one of Harry All’s shrimp nets. Will Thompson helps show it off.
A wayward sturgeon turned up in one of Harry All’s shrimp nets. Will Thompson helps show it off. Collins Doughtie

As I write this Friday morning, until a few minutes ago, I was pretty darn certain there would be nothing but a blank space where my column goes. With Tropical Storm Hermine rolling through, my power was out for three hours and only by the grace of God did it come on, hopefully, just long enough for me to write this column.

I hate feeling rushed, but out here in my area it doesn’t take much for the power to fail. It is so bad a squirrel can spit on the power lines and poof — no power. So hurry, Collins, write like the wind.

The first thing I will address is Thursday night’s Beaufort County Council meeting to discuss rezoning the Hilton Head National Golf Course area from rural to residential and commercial. A week ago, I begged any of you who care about the direction Bluffton is going to be there because, unless your voices are heard, these developers can pretty much do whatever they like.

Arriving at the Bluffton library, I was pleased to see nearly a full house as the developers pitched their plans via a slick video. If I hadn’t been down this road before, I would say it was nothing short of blissful nirvana. A new school, a civic/arts center, a huge water park, approximately 1,000 new homes, roundabouts, plans to widen Malphrus Road to four lanes and many new shops and restaurants.

Selfishly, perhaps, my main concern was stormwater runoff and where it might go.

After nearly an hour-long dog-and-pony show, it was time for both the commissioners and the public to ask questions. One question that came up almost immediately by one of the commissioner’s had to do with the traffic impact studies done by a firm hired by the developer. The hole in that study was it was done on weekdays only and not on weekends during the peak tourist season.

Other issues that were addressed revolved around their proposal to widen Malphrus Road from their entrance up to Hwy. 278. As any of you that drive that road know, it is scary trying to pull out from the Lowe’s or Chick-fil-A, since their entrances are directly across from the entrance to the shopping center where Pier 1 is located.

Not one mention regarding stormwater runoff.

Then it was the public’s turn to toss in its two cents. Never at a loss for words, I was first up. Having taken notes during the presentation, I was limited to three minutes to talk. With a page full of scribbles, I asked about stormwater runoff and whether they had considered reusing that water for irrigation instead of letting it flow into the May River and MacKay’s Creek.

Secondly, I addressed all the traffic that no doubt uses Foreman Hill Road and Alljoy Road to reach downtown Bluffton. Already, it is nearly impossible to find a parking space downtown, so now what if you added an additional 2,000 automobiles?

I never got around to potential boat owners in this new development and where they might launch. The Alljoy Landing? On weekends, cars with trailers try to park in my driveway — and I don’t even live on Alljoy Road.

Other residents got up and voiced their concerns while a small few praised the new development as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

So what was the final outcome? The county commissioners decided that additional time was needed before they would rule on the rezoning. The developer was asked to address some of these concerns and, though I am not sure, it appeared they asked for a 30-day extension.

Folks, this huge development and how it is done will define how wedecide on other such developments that are sure to come. My opinion is very simple. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

Now onto a lighter subject. I’ve been hearing bangs on the roof as branches have been falling from some of the huge pines near my house, so I risked not getting my column finished due to a power failure and walked outside.

Walking down to the river, the wind was easily gusting 50-60 knots. There is something about violent weather that intrigues me.

OK, just as I wrote that, the power went out again, so I’ve got to hustle here...

Two days ago, Will Thompson and I went looking for shrimp and in one spot local Harry All pulls up and he, too, throws his net. I can hear him cussing up a storm because something big is in his net, maybe a shark. Will and I see him haul this huge brown fish into his boat and, thinking it might be a cobia, we pull alongside him.

It was a huge shortnose sturgeon! I see sturgeon free-jumping out in the sounds, but this was a first — especially up a small creek. Since it’s a protected species, we took some pictures, revived it and watched it swim away.

Somehow, I think Harry is going to need to buy a new net because that prehistoric creature no doubt tore it all to pieces. But, hey, what a story.