Lolita Huckaby



To be thrilled, or not to be thrilled

BEAUFORT – A Washington Post travel writer did a lovely little piece on the city earlier this month, encouraging readers to “bypass crowded Charleston for tranquil Beaufort.” 

“Lovely” piece is a relative term since some folks were thrilled and some, not so thrilled. You could get an indication of some of the responses by reading comments posted on the city of Beaufort’s Facebook page where the article was reposted. 

Those concerned about the economic viability of the area fall into the “thrilled” sector, welcoming the publicly paid-for efforts of the Lowcountry tourism and development agencies and their successes in bringing in folks with dollar bills, or credit cards to local restaurants, shops and real estate offices. 

Those concerned with what changes are taking place in the area, particularly to the environment and the amount of traffic being generated, fall into the “not so thrilled” group. 

Is it possible to be somewhere in the middle? 

Progress on new Publix finally tangible 

BEAUFORT – A recent story on an online news service seemed vaguely familiar: “After years of rumors and false starts, multiple groundbreakings and lots of infrastructure and road construction, dirt is finally moving at the Publix construction.” 

This particular news story came from Statesboro, Ga., where the public seems genuinely interested in the arrival of a new grocery store, not unlike the Beaufort community which has been eagerly awaiting the much-rumored Publix store in the former Plaza Shopping Center. 

Since the town’s last movie theater closed in January 2019 after 44 years of entertainment, customers west of the Beaufort River have been waiting for “their” Publix, becoming increasingly weary of crossing the Woods Bridge to shop at the Lady’s Island Publix. 

And now, like the news from Statesboro, Beaufort’s Publix is under construction, walls going up with an anticipated completion date in the fall. 

In addition, news of a Chipolte Mexican Grill and Five Guys hamburger place also in Beaufort Plaza recently was announced, adding to the number of fast-food options emerging around the Boundary Street-Robert Smalls Parkway area. 

A waiting game for Lady’s Island Harris Teeter, Dunkin’ Donuts 

LADY’S ISLAND – Island residents have been on hold, waiting all year to see some activity on a Harris Teeter site, and now it appears that’s going to be the case for a local Dunkin’ Donuts shop. 

While grocery store representatives, who have had their permits from the city in hand for months, have been mum on their plans to start construction at the U.S. 802- Sams Point Road intersection, local developer Graham Trask has been trying to move forward with his plans to build a “coffee shop” at 131 Sea Island Parkway. 

The county Zoning Board of Appeals, for a second time, last week tabled his request for approval because of traffic concerns. 

The project is located directly across from Bill’s Liquor store and the Grayco shopping center, also where the four lanes of traffic coming from the islands, narrows down to two lanes. 

The zoning board listened to about an hour of concerns from residents and representatives of the Sea Island Corrider Coalition and the Coastal Conservation League who contended the proposed business with its drive-through service, did not follow the Lady’s Island Village Plan. The plan stresses “walkability” in the area, rather than additional drive-through businesses. 

ZBOA member Jane Frederick also pointed out the proposal calls for removal of at least four major oak trees over the size of 25-inches in diameter. 

The board agreed to table the project until the developers’ traffic consultants could present a traffic impact plan and the county’s traffic consultants could look over it. 

As one citizen pointed out, the only traffic impact plan that needed to be done was going across town to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Boundary Street during the early morning work hours. 

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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