Citizen input sought for future of St. Helena Island

Members of the St. Helena Island Community Preservation/Cultural Protection Committee and the Beaufort County Planning Department hope island residents will participate in a series of design and planning workshops which will affect the future of their communities.
The first workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 at St. Helena Island Elementary School. Children are invited and refreshments will be served. It is being called a “Visioning Kickoff” by County Planning Director Tony Criscitiello.
“Citizens of St. Helena are urged to attend. We understand how loyal St. Helena residents are to their culture and to their community. Without their opinions, ideas and concerns, we cannot develop a good plan. We need to take the best of the past and see what the community values most and put that in the planning toolbox to envision what happens next.”
Consultants with Opticos Design of Berkeley, Ca., will also participate. The company is known for its work in form based codes, which are a response to modern challenges of suburban sprawl, deterioration of historic communities and neglect of pedestrian safety in new development. The codes offer an opportunity for local communities to address these issues and they provide the regulatory means to achieve a vision of what residents want their communities to look like in the future.
Members of the committee have been meeting for several years with county planners to understand the implications of the form-based code and to educate residents and landowners about it. The current committee was selected by County Planning Commissioner Mary LeGree, of St. Helena Island. It includes representation from different geographical areas of the island and is chaired by Jonathan Brown, who is also the leader of the Corner’s CP Plan.
The committee studied the entire island and considered the value of land preservation, economic development, rural land uses, access to water, and cultural and environmental heritage sites. Along with county planners, the committee identified areas where development is most likely to occur.
A second workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at St. Helena Elementary School. It will focus on plans for the Lands End and Scott communities. A workshop featuring plans for the Corner neighborhood is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday, November 29 at the elementary school.
A public design studio will also be held at Penn Center on Monday, Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Residents may drop by and observe the progress of the design and planning process.
For more information, call the Beaufort County Planning Department at (843) 255-2141.

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