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  LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN 

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 Nothing like a deadline 

 County, Port Royal reach deal to keep Sands boat ramp open 

BEAUFORT – If there’s one thing as sacrosanct around here as trees, its boat landings. And when some officials start messing around with them, it makes news. 

Case in point: Beaufort County staff’s recent announcement that the county didn’t intend to maintain the VERY popular Sands boat landing in Port Royal after July 1. 

The county staff began questioning ownership of some of its 25 public landings last year as part of an effort to develop a master plan for recreation sites. According to the county legal department, there were questionable titles to at least five of the landings including the Sands, Brickyard Point on Lady’s Island, Wimbee Creek in the Lobeco area, Wallace Landing on St. Helena and Russ Landing on Hunting Island. 

Some folks even questioned why the questionable landings were all north of the Broad River, but we’ll mark that up to NOB vs. SOB paranoia. 

The questions prompted former county attorney Lad Howell to venture out to a county council meeting and assure the elected ones – and their staff – that the county indeed owns those properties if for no other reason that “prescriptive easement,” as in, the public’s used them for so long, without objection, they’re deemed “public.” 

The county staff then sent a letter to their colleagues in Port Royal setting a July 1 deadline for their maintenance responsibilities of the Sands landing. Based on the research of this same county legal staff, the property actually belongs to Safe Harbor Port Royal, the world-famous marina company which has purchased a good part of the town’s waterfront to develop a new marina.

Luckily, county, town and Safe Harbor representatives reached an agreement over the weekend and the Sands boat ramp will, indeed, remain open with a new paving job, thanks to the Port Royal town council.

Now if the county and Port Royal, plus the other municipalities could just come to some agreements on those much-more-complicated development impact fees.


General Assembly wrapping things up

COLUMBIA – Last week this column mentioned the state legislators were grinding down to the session’s deadline with bigger fish to fry.

Turns out to be, those “bigger fish” included passing a ban on Carolina Squats and killing Sen. Tom Davis’ Compassionate Care Bill, aka the medical marijuana legislation.

Yes, the ban on Carolina Squats, those jacked-up-in-the-front vehicles you see on the road, intimidating other drivers and creating dangerous blind spots for their drivers, passed and as of this writing, is heading to Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk for signing.

The medical marijuana bill, on the other hand, which was presented as a way to help those suffering from various medical pains, was killed in the S.C. House by a 59-55 vote.

And the vote was on a procedural issue questioning a constitutional point, not even the merits of the bill, which, by that point, had more than 1,000 amendments added to it by legislators wishing to make sure it got killed.

As of this writing, Davis says he’s looking for ways to attach the wording to other remaining House bills as a way to get it passed.


Saying goodbye

BEAUFORT – While we ponder another year in South Carolina without medical marijuana for people in pain who need it, we can also ponder the loss of two “long-time” business establishments.

You read in The Island News two weeks ago that Harvey’s barber shop is going to move off Bay Street to Lady’s Island. Now, if you want to eat Greek food, you’re already out of luck.

After 18 years, the Athenian Gardens served its last gyro and piece of spanakopita two weeks ago.

The owners are planning a trip to visit family in Greece and facing other issues that leave it uncertain whether they’ll reopen. In the meantime, the posters of Greek villages are gone and the building, owned by Beaufort Memorial Hospital, is bare.

Also leaving Ribaut Road is the Friends of Caroline Hospice Thrift Closet, one of the area’s best thrift stores. After 17 years of recycling some people’s discards into other people’s treasures, the shop is clearing out.

Hopes are, they’ll find another location where they can continue to raise money for Friends of Caroline Hospice.

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer and former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today, Beaufort Today and The Robesonian (Lumberton, N.C.). She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com.

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