Letter to the Editor

in Letters to Editor/Voices by

Many concerns about Whitehall development

I relocated permanently to Beaufort almost two years ago, in part due to its stunning natural beauty and historic legacy.  

Suddenly, I am cognizant of the fact that those of us who live on the islands (Lady’s, St. Helena, Dataw, Harbor and Fripp) east of Woods Bridge are about to be impacted directly and irrevocably by decisions that will be made by Beaufort Planning and the Beaufort Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC). 

I presented my concerns to the MPC on Nov. 13 regarding concerns I have relative to the long-awaited development of the Whitehall property.  

Consisting of (19) heavily-wooded acres located at the foot of Woods Bridge, Whitehall drains directly into Factory Creek and the Beaufort River. Soil disruption on that site will certainly affect the marshes via storm water runoff with its certain pollutants and from deadly siltation via eroded soil.  

Many are concerned about the number of mature trees that will be destroyed, but my drop-in meeting with Beaufort Planning and review of the aborist’s plan alleviated my concerns about clearing of trees, to some degree.

But for those of us who have studied the current plan, the two most disturbing facts are the immediate and permanent traffic impacts we will suffer on Sea Island Parkway and Meridian Road. I am proposing right turn lanes for ingress/egress for the Sea Island Parkway entrance. Otherwise, or we will be sitting in murderous traffic jams there soon.  

The second burning issue is the developer seeks to build way too many buildings on the property. With that degree of impervious (won’t absorb water) material in asphalt, concrete, buildings, etc., the stormwater runoff and potential for flooding will be significant. If allowed to continue, as in Charleston and other low areas, the “drainage deficit” can result in the kind of flooding we have seen in those localities.

More than anything, I hoped to convince the MPC that when it comes to properties that border the tideline (reached by tidal waters), there must be a stricter set of environmental standards in place for land development that go beyond the mandatory 30-foot development setback mandated by SC DHEC OCRM.  

As just one example, saving mature trees on tideline properties not only shields the resulting buildings from view, the trees hold the soil, prevent erosion and reduce the potential of storm water runoff and pollution of nearby wetlands and waterways.

I hope the MPC will listen to the citizens and conservation groups, because the decisions made for Whitehall will set precedents for Beaufort tideline communities that will affect us all for years to come.

Fereol de Gastyne