Lolita Huckaby



County inching forward in effort to update village plan


Five years ago, some 300 residents and property owners of Lady’s Island and its neighboring sea islands met for a series of workshops to plot how they wanted to see their community develop. “The Lady’s Island Plan” was born. 

It’s obvious a lot of folks have moved to the islands, so a number of things have changed except for one basic vision: protect what we have. 

The question on how to do just that was raised this week during a meeting of the County Council’s Natural Resources Committee when it was asked to approve the expenditure of up to $25,000 for another planning workshop, or charette. County staff is recommending the action to use its own staff to refine the existing Lady’s Island Development Plan, particularly the area of the business district, or village, which is partially in the county and partially in the city, thanks to annexations. 

Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray was present, along with representatives from the Sea Island Coastal Corridor Coalition and the Coastal Conservation League, to ask the Committee to spend more and bring in outside consultants to help the two governing parties – the county and the city – come together. 

Speakers spoke of their frustration in the lack of progress in getting anything done, although Murray noted the area had earned an additional turning lane at the Walgreen’s intersection with Sam’s Point Road. 

County Administrator Eric Greenway said he was so frustrated by the continuing discussions, he handed the presentation over to one of his assistants, but not before calling the opponents’ suggestion “a waste of taxpayers dollars, (resulting in) more of the same.” 

County Councilman Paul Sommerville, who represents the majority of Lady’s Island, said he was sad to see disagreement on how to proceed but convinced seven of his fellow council members to support the county proposal. 

The resolution will have to be approved by the full council next week. Then there will be more planning meetings as more houses are built on the islands and residents wait for their first neighborhood coffee house/doughnut drive-thru experience. 

Second coffee shop drive-thru in planning stage 

LADY’S ISLAND – Plans for a proposed coffee and doughnut shop on Lady’s Island are still being scrutinized, and now we learn there’s another one in the works. 

Preliminary plans were announced last week for the island’s first Starbucks to be located on Sea Island Parkway, in a currently wooded lot between Gay and Ferry Drive. 

The county’s planning staff has given an initial review of the project, but that’s as far as it’s gone. 

It will be interesting to see if the proposed shop draws as much opposition as the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts planned further west on the Parkway, across from Bill’s Liquor Stores. Opponents of that project for the past two months have begged the county Board of Appeals not to grant a variance for the drive-thru shop because of traffic concerns at that location. 

It’s also interesting that the planned Harris Teeter had a proposed Starbucks within its building. Maybe the coffee company folks know something we haven’t confirmed yet. 

Let’s think about sewage; sometimes there’s an accident 

PORT ROYAL – It’s not something we think about a lot, but with more and more people moving to this part of the Lowcountry, there’s more and more … sewage … to deal with. And for the much of the area, the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority is in charge of that movement. 

Before BJWSA got into the sewer treatment business in 1969, folks primarily took care of their own waste, although some neighborhoods had their own little private septic systems. And some areas of the county still do rely on individual septic systems, but that’s slowly changing as the Authority extends lines into those areas so more people can build more houses. 

It’s when an accident happens like last week in the Shell Point/Dowlingwood area, where a half-million gallons of wastewater (treated sewage) spilled from an underground iron pipe, that the fragility of the whole system comes into play. 

Thank heavens a passerby came along, noticed the smell and got the ball rolling on repairs. 

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control gets involved, bodies of water like Battery Creek get closed for oyster harvesting and the BJWSA crews work pretty much around the clock to fix the leak. 

Sometimes, a sewer leak can cause DHEC to close a body of water to swimming but admittedly, there’s not a lot of folks swimming right now in Battery Creek. 

Look at a map of DHEC shellfish beds and you see that much of the water around the Beaufort peninsula is closed to shellfish gathering because of water quality. It used to be even more before local governments got really serious about protecting water quality and developing a stormwater system that not just focuses on flooding but on reducing the impacts of oil, gas and other pollutants that show up in runoff water. 

It’s times like this when you have to think twice about where your oysters or clams are coming from… and where your waste is going. 

Rep. Mace might want to rethink that honoree 

BEAUFORT – First District Congresswoman Nancy Mace made the news last week with an announcement she’s introduced legislation to name the Burton post office branch, located in the Beaufort Plaza, for Robert Smalls. 

Her bill has passed House subcommittee and is expected to go to the full House this week for a vote. 

A local historian notes it might have been even more appropriate to name the facility for Elizabeth Smalls Bampfield, daughter of Robert Smalls, who grew up in Beaufort and was named postmaster of the Beaufort Post Office by President Theodore Roosevelt. 

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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