LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

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Bindon Plantation back in the news with preliminary green light for development

YEMASSEE – New life has been pumped into the long-awaited, much-debated Bindon Plantation in the rural hinterland of Yemassee.

With a quick show of hands, the Yemassee Town Council last week gave unanimous approval to a preliminary development plan for the 1,317 acre tract located on Trask Parkway near the Stoney Creek Cemetery Road.

The property annexed by the growing municipality in 2016 was, at one time, being eyed for development of up to 1,300 homes and 450,000 square feet of commercial development.

The new agreement, which is restricted with a 2012 conservation protection easement purchased by Beaufort County for $3.2 million, proposes 20 single-lot homes ranging from five to 17 acres and a total of five docks.

Called Stoney Creek at Bindon, the applicant for the new development is Taylor Development Group LLC out of Winston Salem, N.C. Owner of the property is Hollingsworth Fund LLC which had the plantation on the market in 2019 for $12.4 million.

The town approval came with 16 requirements for the developers involving things like water runoff, emergency vehicular access through the gated community, etc. Since the area is not served by public water or sewer services, the proposal includes the use of wells and individual septic tanks.

The development permit is the first for the town in a very long time. But since 2018, the town has processed 280 annexations, primarily rural areas, including three major plantations owned by former President Donald Trump’s attorney Lin Wood.

The council’s approval of the preliminary permit came with oversight by the Beaufort County Open Land Trust and the S.C. Coastal Conservation League.

There is no time line attached to the approval so when development will begin is anyone’s guess.

Speaking of more new houses

SEABROOK – Land clearing along Trask Parkway, aka U.S. 21, at the Stuart Point Road intersection is taking place, making way for a new residential subdivision, Teal Bluff.

A project of the Forino Company, the planned 44-lot subdivision is being marketed by Berkshire-Hathaway.

The Pennsylvania-based development firm has several other ventures in the Lowcountry, including Mossy Oaks in Ridgeland and Academy Park on Lady’s Island neighboring Beaufort Academy.

The company also purchased Coosaw Point development on Lady’s Island earlier this year.

Lest we forget the ‘affordable housing’ issue

YEMASSEE – Before the Town Council last week voted to dramatically change development activity in the community, members heard from Beaufort County Administrator Eric Greenway about a plan to help folks who can’t afford housing.

The council was the first of at least eight presentations Greenway plans to give on the county’s efforts to establish an intergovernmental affordable housing trust fund. Creation of the fund, which would come from contributions of the municipalities in the Beaufort and Jasper Counties area plus grants and loans, is a proposal from the Southern Lowcountry, SoLoCo, group whose members meet regularly to discuss mutual areas of concern.

Affordable housing for the local workforce has been a growing issue for the past decade with different local governments using different approaches to try and bring some relief.

The municipalities will be asked to initially contribute a percent of the money they receive from the federal American Rescue Plan.

The concept must be approved by the Beaufort and Jasper County Councils, as well as the municipalities, to be implemented.

The importance of affordable housing was highlighted – once again – in the past week on Hilton Head Island, where the owner of a 45-lot mobile home park announced plans to close the residential facility and, if the town approves, rebuild 164 apartments on the Broad Creek waterfront.

To sweeten the deal, a spokesman for the developers said they would offer a percent of the units – eight in total – for “workforce housing.”

The developer is asking for a rezoning of the property to accommodate an increase in density, from eight units per acre to 12 units.

The town staff and planning board has recommended the town council reject the rezoning request.

Another bridge to the island

LADY’S ISLAND – Okay, it’s a walking bridge, for pedestrians, but it’s something happening related to the much-debated Whitehall development at the foot of the Woods Bridge.

The Beaufort City Council moved forward last week with a contract to Duncan O’Quinn Marine to build the crosswalk along the Woods Memorial Bridge, connecting the proposed park and downtown.

The county planning department is in charge of development of the 9.6 acre public park on the property. They’re working their schedule around the nesting eagles which means construction is possible only between May and September.

Construction of things like the walking trail area scheduled to begin around May of next year although the county planners say things like perimeter fencing and picnic tables might be installed before that.

No word yet on Whitehall Point Holdings LLC’s plans to begin work on the commercial and residential development which will include up to 30 townhouses and single-family homes plus three mixed-use buildings.

Site work permits for the project were submitted to the city last month and are under review by the technical staff.

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.