By the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association
Just before Christmas, the city of Beaufort announced that it was annexing Secession Golf Course on Gibbs Island.
The annexation consists of a club house, golf course, 15 member-owned cottages and 30 vacant residential lots. Also to be annexed are 10 businesses along Sea Island Parkway. The businesses include two banks (Wells Fargo and CBC National), the Filling Station, Butler Marine, a Shell gas station, the former movie theater adjacent to the high school, Zippy Lube, a dentist office, the Packing Shed (next to the Walmart site), and across the street, the property at the intersection of Lost Island Road and the Sea Island Parkway (the Dive Shop).
These annexations will be open to public comment at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the Beaufort City Council chamber at Beaufort City Hall.
Are these annexations good or bad for the Lady’s Island community or do they make any real difference?
Before answering the question of how the proposed annexation affects Lady’s Island, a bit of history is in order.
The city of Beaufort has been annexing property on Lady’s Island for a good number of years.
For example, in 1999 it initiated annexation of Cane Island. It announced the proposed annexation on a Monday and on Tuesday the City Council took the first vote on the matter, causing a great deal of animosity between Beaufort County and the city.
The annexation of Cane Island led to annexation of a portion of Distant Island and eventually the present Walmart site.
Since the Cane Island annexation, Beaufort has annexed other properties in the Lady’s Island Village Center.
In an effort to reduce animosity over annexation between the county and the northern municipalities, the Northern Regional Plan was developed. One of the key things the plan accomplished was the establishment of municipal growth boundaries in which annexation by municipalities was authorized.
Lady’s Island is within the city of Beaufort’s growth boundary and thus annexation of property on the island is proper and legal.
The present city administration prefers to annex only commercial property, but this could change with another administration. The recently announced annexations will increase the number of Lady’s Island businesses within the city of Beaufort.
The relationship between the county, Lady’s Island and the city of Beaufort has significantly improved since 1999.
Whether the proposed annexations are good or bad for Lady’s Island depends on the attitude of the city of Beaufort in regard to provision of services.
If, in spite of not every business choosing to be in the city, the city takes the high road and cleans the streets and sidewalks, increases the level of police presence, considers traffic impacts of its actions and plans for a general upgrade of the commercial portion of Sea Island Parkway, it will be a very good thing.
Beaufort County is not organized to provide municipal services of this type and is not going to provide them.
If, on the other hand, Lady’s Island is looked at simply as a source of revenue for the city of Beaufort, there is no benefit to the community in general from the additional annexations.
Time will tell.