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LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

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Port Royal still cleaning up after Elsa, tying up loose ends on Port property 

PORT ROYAL – The i’s have been dotted, the t’s crossed and representatives of Grey Ghost Properties LLC are believed to have updated agreements with the town of Port Royal which will make it easier to sell the 315-acres of waterfront property, which have been rumored for development for decades. 

The town council last week, as residents cleaned up after a tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Elsa, endorsed a new development agreement and changes to the Planned Unit Development plan for the property overlooking Battery Creek and one of the deepest natural harbors on the East Coast. 

In 2017, Grey Ghost developers, including Chris Butler and Whit Suber, purchased the former S.C. Ports Authority property for $9 million. In the past year, the town has been increasing pressure on the developers to begin work on their approved development plans with a date of December 2021 established for work to begin or the agreements could be invalidated. 

The new development agreement approved by the town council gives the owners, for starters, until December 2022 to improve the aesthetics of the existing dry-stack storage facility. 

Efforts to promote the sale intensified in the past several months with Safe Harbor Marina, owners of the former Port Royal Landings Marina and lease-holders of Beaufort’s Downtown Marina, reportedly driving the conversation of a proposed purchase. 

The property comes with a proposed marina, already permitted by the state for 250 slips. 

The revised agreements also allow increased residential density from 425 to 575 single-family homes, apartments, town-houses and condos. 

The limit on 225,000 square feet of commercial development was removed and there was clarification of a land swap on either side of the Sands boat ramp road. 

Plans for updating of the existing shrimp docks, which are owned by Grey Ghost but operated until this spring by the town, are also part of the deal, especially after the town found out the state legislature included $900,000 in earmarks for the dock rehab. 

While the development agreement changes were approved unanimously by the Town Council, the changes to the Planned United Development (PUD) were not supported by Council members Jerry Ashmore and Darryl Owners. Their votes in opposition came after the S.C. Coastal Conservation League urged the town to require any new developers to honor the current, more restrictive current tree protection ordinances. 

As almost everyone in the council room during the final vote – elected town officials to paid attorneys – agreed “we’ve waited a long time for this to happen.” 

Now, let’s see if it does. 


Who knows Rosenberg’s Rules of Order? 

BEAUFORT – As of press time last week, issues of downtown Beaufort development seemed relatively quiet while the future of 303 Associates’ Dick Stewart’s garage and new hotel project seem to be on hold as challenges make their way through the court system. 

But then … there was last Wednesday’s Historic Review Board’s meeting. 

It was the first since the five member board got four new members appointed by City Council. And if you’re drawn to government proceedings (admittedly, many probably are NOT), you might want to check out the July 14 meeting of the HRB, which is still available for viewing on the city’s Facebook page. 

In addition to learning more about the personalities who are now making decisions on the future of the city’s historic district, you will learn about Rosenberg’s Rules Of Order

To quote a Google search of this little-known document, “it’s a simplified set of parliamentary rules widely used in California. In many respects it parallels Roberts Rules of Order.” 

For those of you who may not know about Roberts Rules (and don’t really care) they were developed in 1876 by Brig. General Henry Roberts, born in Jasper County, who was presiding over a church meeting and recognized the need for an established procedure. 

Back to the HBF meeting last week. New member Mike Sutton, a building contractor who works with a number of historic home owners, moved the meeting “down the road” by making the motion to accept the staff’s recommendation to use Rosenburg’s rules instead of Roberts rules. This was right after he nominated new board member Jeremiah Smith of Alison-Ramsey Architects to be the new chairman. 

The chairmanship vote was unanimous. From there it went downhill. 

The meeting could be viewed as an incredible example of parliamentary tap-dancing except protection of the city’s historic district is at stake. 


Hooray for pickleball 

BEAUFORT – Good news for the pickleball players of Beaufort County; the County Council heard your cries and responded. 

Six new courts will be located in the Shell Point county park (behind Praise Assembly) and the Bluffton Recreation Center and Southside Park where an existing tennis court will be converted to a pickleball court. 

What about those crossing signs? 

BEAUFORT – Anyone else notice how many of the pedestrian crosswalk signs aren’t doing the job. Signs along Bay and Carteret streets are knocked down or maybe were targeted by absent-minded motorists. 

With Water Festival going on and all the tourists in town, not a good time for casual crossing. 

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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