Lolita Huckaby



Welcome Safe Harbor (is Port Royal ready for this?) 

PORT ROYAL – It’s happened again. The 300 acres of Port Royal’s waterfront has been sold to new owners. 

The official documents were signed last month, as most people in the town already knew. But the sale was publicly announced last week that Safe Harbor Marinas, reportedly the largest marina operator in the world, are the newest owners. 

The reported price is $20.5 million for the 300 acres, up from $9 million which the previous owners, Gray Ghosts Properties, paid the S.C. Ports Authority for their part of the property in 2017. A testament to what we all know: that land prices are on the rise.

Since the Port of Port Royal ceased operation around 2004, the future of the property and the land surrounding it has been the source of much debate.

Development agreements carefully crafted by the town and the buyers and their attorneys outline plans for a new marina with slips for up to 300 boats, the existing 240-boat dry-stack storage facility and residential development of up to 500-plus homes. Commercial development is also part of the mix.

Residents have been anticipating these changes for years, since the once busy shipping port was closed. Community leaders have taken its economic development potential seriously and have tried to prepare a sound vision with plans and development agreements.

But residents have to look no further than to their neighbors south of the Broad River to be reminded one must be careful what one wishes for.

The once mile-square municipality of Bluffton, known for its’ “eccentric state of mind,” has grown to more than 50 miles and one of its newest annexations, Palmetto Bluff, is causing heartburn.

As David Lauderdale, columnist extraordinaire with The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette recently summarized the town leaders’ initial efforts to control growth, “it was like a speckled trout swallowing a shark.”

Palmetto Bluff now has new owners who want some changes to the original development agreement. They’re asking the town council for permission to extend fueling lines to an already permitted marina on the May River plus a second dry-stack storage facility.

The town planning commission has recommended disapproval and the town council have sent the proposed changes to a negotiating team.

Concerned citizens including the Coastal Conservation League have organized a petition drive to reject the changes.

Port Royal residents might want to take note.

Not so fast, my friends

BEAUFORT – Apparently I pontificated prematurely in last week’s column when I praised our local Christmas parade effort for being drama-free.

At least one parade unit espousing “icky politics,” as one letter-to-the-editor writer stated, drew some negative feedback and behind-the-screens hand-wringing from organizers who pledged “never to let that happen again.”

I’m not going to let “one bad apple spoil the basket.” I stand by my comment that we’re pretty thankful and simply wish others would display more civility.

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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