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Sea Island Corridor Coalition, Coastal Conservation League release findings

from Lady’s Island community development forum, citizen visioning sessions

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BEAUFORT SC, JUNE 28 – Lady’s Island residents are concerned that the future of their community is “in limbo.”

This conclusion, and recommendations for planning and action to retain the character and sense of community on this island of 12,500 just east of Beaufort, are contained in a report released Wednesday by the Sea Island Corridor Coalition and SC Coastal Conservation League.

The report, “Designing A Future For Lady’s Island: A Guide To Growth Management,” was based on a community development forum nine subsequent citizen mapping sessions. More than 400 participated in the community planning process, which provided an outlet for island residents to articulate the Lady’s Island community’s expectations for planning and development decisions as the island copes with double-digit growth.

As a guide to growth management, the report confirmed residents’ interest in being involved and its sense that a plan for the island is necessary and badly needed.

The report outlines five principles residents say should be applied to planning and development decisions moving forward:

  • Inspired Development: Inspired, functional patterns of development within the developed areas of Lady’s Island that support small businesses, new residents and community interaction.
  • Connected Transportation: An integrated transportation network that includes bicycles, pedestrians and cars and allows for future public transit.
  • Character Enhancement: Retention of the Island’s character and support that advances a vibrant rural community with healthy farms, wetlands and waterways.
  • Sunlight & Predictability: A fully transparent, predictable development process for future growth that is collaborative across jurisdictional boundaries will support a community-specific plan rather than developer-initiated, piecemeal developments.
  • Meaningful Community Involvement: A concerned, educated and engaged citizenry that works toward solutions alongside experts and elected officials.

“We are in a good position to plan for growth that accommodates a growing population while still protecting the island’s natural and man-made assets,” said Kate Schaefer, Director of the Coastal Conservation League’s South Coast Office.

“We have here five principles for managing growth that can guide residents and elected officials alike in evaluating new development and plans. As the government works with the public, the result will be a Lady’s Island we can point to with unique pride of place.”

Chuck Newton, of the Sea Island Corridor Coalition, said the most important takeaway from the initiative was that the public wants to be engaged and stay engaged in the process.

“Government processes and practices are often intimidating to the people they are designed to serve. Yet here, we saw more than 400 people, virtually all of them affected by what happens on Lady’s Island, hold up their hands and ask for more transparency and more involvement,” he said.

“In all the interactions that led to this report, Lady’s Island residents say clearly that they want to be involved in planning and development decisions that affect them, and not simply be told what decisions have been made.

“Meaningful” public participation was a phrase often-voiced by participants, and they seem willing to educate themselves, and hold up their end of the bargain,” Newton said.

The full report, together with a variety of support exhibits and documentation, is available online at a special website,

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