By MINDY LUCAS
An RV park featuring hundreds of camp sites could be coming to Callawassie Drive in Okatie.
Okatie-based Kenneth Scott Builders, Inc. is planning to turn a 56-acre property about a half mile from S.C. Highway 170 into an RV park for at least 105 RV sites, possibly more.
The Beaufort County Development Department gave conceptual approval to the Phase I of the “Okatie RV Resort” at its Wednesday, Aug. 21 meeting.
While earlier plans called for as many as 300 RV pads to be built over two phases, that number may now be limited to fewer sites as the development department works out details with the company’s engineering firm and the firm seeks stormwater and encroachment permits from various state agencies.
In the meantime, plans for the property at 68 Callawassie Drive have many in the surrounding communities upset.
“Callawassie Drive right now handles 2,000 vehicles a day and to allow large, oversized vehicles on a small road particularly if there are breakdowns could cause problems,” said Patrick Parkinson, who is on the board of directors for the Callawassie Property Owners Association.
The board is strongly opposed to the project for a “variety of reasons” and believes an RV park of that size will change the rural look of the area, he said.
Those on the Spring Island board are also working in opposition to the project, according to the island’s general manager/chief operating officer Bill Griffon.
“Due to concerns over traffic and environmental impacts,” Griffon said by phone on Monday.
A recent traffic study submitted by members of the community opposed to the project, outlined several areas of concern including limited sight distances on parts of the two-lane road, speeding and traffic congestion.
In addition, Kenneth Scott Builders are looking at accessing the park by way of Gaston Plantation Road, a dirt road that would need to be widened and improved, the development department said. Easements granting access would also be required from property owners along the road.
A letter from the engineering firm to the department stated that access to Gaston Plantation Road is only intended for the resort’s staff and not for public access.
Eric Greenway, director of the county’s community development department, said most of the items in the community’s traffic study were items they “already knew about” and that the study did not change the county’s position from a development review standpoint.
Greenway also suggested that members of the community submit the traffic study to the S.C. Department of Transportation, the agency which is ultimately responsible for giving any final approvals on encroachment.
The development department gave conceptual approval of the RV park’s Phase I at the Aug. 21 meeting pending the receipt of these permits and permits addressing stormwater runoff.
Still, others are concerned about the environmental impact the project could have on the area’s watershed.
At Beaufort County Council’s Aug. 26 meeting, about a half dozen residents went before the county to voice opposition to the project and more than 2,000 had signed an online petition by Monday night. The online petition stated that “many trees have already been removed from the land and they plan to remove even more.”
However, Greenway said the county had used historic aerial photography and sent its own naturalist, a certified arborist, to determine timbering had not occurred within the last two years.
Others remain upset over a project they say could attract transient housing.
“I think it’s going to cause a lot of problems with trespassing,” said Mary Jeans Otto whose property backs up to the site for the proposed RV park. “We have acres of lakes back there, but there are no trails … there’s no fishing, there’s no beach, people are going to get restless and pour over onto our property.”
Otto said in addition to impacting area wetlands, she is concerned that those who camped in the park will actually be construction workers living in the park long-term.
“We believe it’s going to be transient housing for possibly some of these new, big developments going in. And transient housing brings crime and lower property values,” she said.
It is unclear if the RV park will set rules for the campers’ length of stay. Calls to Kenneth Scott Builders were not returned as of press time.