If the County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA) grants variances next Thursday, the busiest stretch of the Sea Island Parkway could be home to a new drive-through coffee shop.

Planned for 131 Sea Island Parkway, the location is directly across from Bill’s Liquors and adjacent to Garrett’s dry cleaners/U-Haul outlet. The site is said to be for a new Dunkin Donuts franchise.

Unlike Wendy’s or McDonald’s further east, all traffic will enter and exit directly onto the Parkway, creating significant additional traffic congestion and likely opening the door to more vehicle collisions, something the Fire District, the City and the County have been working to reduce in the area.

The applicant is Graham Trask, a former Beaufort resident involved with several Beaufort-area developments.

Three variances are sought. One would permit construction that exceeds the required setback along the east edge of the property. A second would permit a “false front” for the building, creating a tunnel through which exiting vehicles must pass before reaching the exit. The third request is for a special use permit allowing for a drive-through, permitted by the Community Development Code but only after specific approval by the ZBOA.

All this comes at the time when design work is underway for road & traffic improvements along this portion of the Sea Island Parkway, one of the projects part of the $30 million “Penny Sales Tax” approved by voters in November 2018.

Sea Island Coalition chair Chuck Newton said the proposal was the worst idea in the worst place at the worst possible time.

“We’re working to make Lady’s Island a more walkable, pedestrian-oriented place, and here we have a proposal entirely devoted to the automobile. That “minor” issue aside, this is a poorly-designed proposal providing too-little area for “stacking” vehicles waiting for service, and one which will pour exiting traffic onto the Parkway right where it narrows to one lane.

“The fact that this proposal runs afoul of so much of the County Community Development Code should concern the Board. Given such a long list of negatives, the question we encourage the ZBOA to ask is whether there is any good reason to approve any of these requests,” Newton said.

The ZBOA meeting is scheduled for County Council Chambers at 5 p.m on Thursday, Oct. 28. The meeting is open to the public, and concerned residents are encouraged to attend and comment on the proposal.

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