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The Bluffton Township Fire District will buy a $1.2 million tract for a new fire station in old town after receiving approval Monday from Beaufort County Council.
The 9.2 acres at the corner of Burnt Church and Ulmer roads is near Station 30, which is on Bridge Street.
Fire officials say the station, the district's oldest and busiest, is too small and in disrepair. It was built in 1980 as a volunteer fire station, and all but the steel frame was constructed by the volunteers.
"It is rundown, and it was never designed to do what it needs to do," Fire Chief Barry Turner said.
The money for the vacant, wooded site, owned by Cliff and Emily Johnson of Atlanta, will come mostly from the district's impact fees, which are charged on new development. The remainder will come from its general fund. The district had planned for the purchase, Turner said.
The council approves all expenditures of county tax revenue that funds the fire district.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2012-13, Turner said.
After an engineering study in June showed structural deficiencies at the current site, district officials considered rebuilding the station, which is on Beaufort County School District property. The school district opposed an expansion because of traffic concerns at nearby M.C. Riley Elementary School.
Fire district commissioners approved the purchase in a 4-3 vote in October. Dissenters said the property cost too much and was too large for a fire station.
The fire district has six stations in its service area, which spans southern Beaufort County, except for Hilton Head and Daufuskie islands.
The district also plans to build a new station at Hampton Parkway and Davis Road off U.S. 278 after purchasing 2.9 acres for $325,000 this year with impact-fee revenues.
But relocating the old-town station is at the top of the district's project list.
"It's in the worst shape, so it has moved to priority No. 1," Turner said.