Beaufort apartment project moves forward with piecemeal approvals

By Tony Kukulich

The Watercrest Multi-family Development project was back in front of the City of Beaufort Design Review Board (DRB) once again seeking preliminary approval for its site plan as well as approvals for recent changes to the architecture of the plan’s buildings.

The appearance came during a special meeting held Feb. 23.

After having a vote on the site plan deferred earlier in the month, the project received the requested approval. However, the meeting produced a mixed bag of results on other issues.

Planned for 211 Broad River Blvd, the project sits on a 37.7-acre site. At full buildout, it will consist of 558 housing units in 18 apartment buildings and 15 newly added carriage houses. The site will also support garage buildings, a pool, clubhouse and a maintenance building.

Steve Andrews of Andrews Engineering originally sought preliminary approval of the site plan during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 10. The request was deferred by the board after changes to the site plan were introduced during the meeting. Board members argued at the time that voting on the new site plan without allowing both the board and the public sufficient time to review the plan was inappropriate. The board then agreed to schedule a special meeting to consider the new site plan before the next regular meeting.

“We would like to leave here today with a preliminary approval,” Andrews said as he addressed the DRB during the special meeting. “I know last time it was a bit unorthodox as we tried to demonstrate how we have evolved the site plan. Now you’ve had the plan for a couple of weeks and had a chance to study it. That’s definitely the plan we’d like to move forward with.”

Board Chair Benjie Morillo commented that he liked the updated site plan “a whole lot better,” and DRB Vice Chair Kimberly McFann put forth a motion to approve it that passed unanimously.

The board then addressed the carriage houses, a new architectural design element added to the plan in response to board comments made in previous sessions. Conceptual approval was granted by a 5-0 vote.

After two relatively easy votes, the project team ran into trouble during discussion about changes to one of the four building design types in the plan, identified as design type four. In what appeared to be a repeat of the Feb. 10 meeting, the project team submitted the design changes during the meeting. The move caught the attention of McFann, who was critical of the design team’s similar move during the Feb. 10 meeting.

“Again we find ourselves on this project with a very last minute change, and we don’t even have a drawing,” she said.

The board voted unanimously to defer a vote on the preliminary approval of the changes to design type four. They then went on to grant preliminary approval to design types one, two and three as well as the maintenance building.

Prior to adjourning the session, McFann cautioned the project team to adhere to the design submission schedule and avoid last minute updates when they apply for final approval.

Tony Kukulich comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be reached at tony.theislandnews@gmail.com.

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