At its March 24 meeting, the Northern Plan Implementation Committee heard an update on the County’s initiative to create a “Lady’s Island Area Plan.” As conceived, there was little new in this approach; the County proposed a review of past and existing plans and ideas for Lady’s Island, in an effort to guide future development.
Responding in a letter to committee members and county officials, the Sea Island Corridor Coalition together with the Coastal Conservation League strenuously objected.
“As we read the RFP, Beaufort County is requesting that an outside consultant review and combine existing plans, policies and studies. This review of the existing stable of studies and plans is indeed necessary, but it is only the first step,” the letter said.
“As related to Lady’s Island, the existing plans, policies and studies all have shortcomings, and those shortcomings are apparent across the Island. The recent scramble to address traffic issues,the shortage of options available in planning decisions, and the standing-room-only turnout of concerned residents at the February 23 community forum are all byproducts of the failure of existing plans, policies and studies to effectively cope with growth on the island.
“While there are certainly positive elements to the RFP, it unfortunately falls very short of the necessary level of planning, meaningful community involvement, and detail to ensure that future development on the island is inviting, functional and sustainable.
“What is needed is a fresh and comprehensive look at Lady’s Island, and the creation of a true Master Plan to guide development on the Island moving forward. There are challenges; a significant percentage of Lady’s Island is already earmarked for specific development. But this should not be used as an excuse to refuse to consider the remaining public assets on the island and to consider opportunities for redevelopment in the future,” said the two groups.
“What is also clear is that the County cannot undertake planning for Lady’s Island alone, given the significant number of properties that are now part of the City of Beaufort. To be successful, the City of Beaufort, Beaufort County, the Lady’s Island community, and the Northern Beaufort County Regional Plan Implementation Committee all must work together. It cannot be “same bed, different dreams,” but instead must be a process built on a common vision and a single-minded commitment to successfully addressing issues of growth and sprawl and livability. No planning regimen will be successful if one party is absent from the table,” the letter concluded.
The letter was taken under advisement by the Committee, and neither the City nor the County have yet formally responded.
A copy of the entire letter to the committee can be read by clicking here.
A copy of the attachment to the letter – the Boundary Street RFQ – can be read here.