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Former county planning director puts in plug for more parks

BEAUFORT – There’s Whitehall on Lady’s Island and Okatie in southern Beaufort County.

County Council has its hands up inking out use agreements for public parks on both those highly visible … and sometimes controversial properties.

Now former county Planning Director Tony Criscitellio wants to make sure county officials don’t forget Bindon Plantation in northern Beaufort County.

Criscitellio last week asked members of the county Planning Commission, a group he used to direct, not to forget the 1,000-plus acres the public has a conservation easement on in his neighborhood, on the banks of the Pocotaligo River not far from Brays Island.

The county purchased the easement back in 2012 to prevent massive development on the rural tract where developers were eyeing up to 13,000 new homes plus commercial development.

The property is again being advertised for sale — $15 million — but development is limited to 20 homes.

The conservation easement commits the county and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust, partners in the deal, to providing passive park space on the tract and Criscitellio thinks it would be a great spot for a botanical garden or arboretum.

“It’s important to not just conserve what we love but stay focused on that conservation or we can lose our identity,” he told the Commission who took the suggestion as information.

More hotels on the way

BEAUFORT – If we’re going to have more parks to draw folks to the area, they’re gonna need places to stay.

The city Design Review Board last week gave approval to a third hotel at the corner of Trask Parkway and Parris Island Gateway, the Desai Hotel, five stories high with 116 rooms.

The hotel will join the Homes2 Suites, which is already open for business on the site of the former mobile home park, and Tru by Hilton Hotel, which is under construction with 92 rooms.

The latest hotel project joins SpringHill Suites by Marriott, a five-story structure with 111 rooms on Boundary Street under construction next to Holiday Inn. And then there’s the 12-room boutique hotel approved by the city review board for the former Boombears toy store on Carteret Street.

There’ll be no rooms at this inn

BEAUFORT – Plans for a new residential project, Justice Square, on King Street fell apart last week when the city review board declined to go along with plans for 2.5-story townhouses on the former county jail site.

The review board had no problem with plans to convert the concrete structure into nine apartments but the four two-unit homes facing Prince Street were deemed too tall for the surrounding neighborhood. When the Columbia developer said he needed conceptual approval at that meeting, after two years of working on the plans, the board just couldn’t give him what he wanted.

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer, I-95 and U.S. 17 voyager and works for an online news service covering local government. She is a former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today and Beaufort Today. She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com.


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