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Nearly 1,000 acres will be preserved in Beaufort County under four deals totaling more than $5 million and announced Wednesday by county and Hilton Head Island governments.
A land purchase on Hilton Head and three conservation easements on St. Helena Island will keep the land from becoming developments that could have added 326 homes, according to news releases. The conservation easements allow property owners on St. Helena to continue farming on the land, but they waive development rights.
The nonprofit Beaufort County Open Land Trust negotiated all four purchases through various government cost-sharing partnerships. The county and town portions will be paid for with bonds approved in referendums to fund such preservation deals.
Hilton Head Town Council and Beaufort County Council approved the purchase of 19 acres along Mitchelville Road for $1.4 million. The deal was negotiated out of foreclosure by the land trust on behalf of county and town councils, according to a town news release. It includes six acres of wetlands and has frontage on Port Royal Sound. The town says it is one of the island's last remaining large, undeveloped parcels in single ownership. The property is vacant, zoned multifamily residential and could have had 76 homes built on it, the release said.
ORANGE GROVE PLANTATION
The 801-acre property, owned by the Trask family at Orange Grove Plantation, lies partially on Wallace Creek and is the largest remaining agricultural operation on St. Helena Island, a county news release said. The total cost of the conservation easement is $3.75 million, and the property has an appraised value of about $8 million, the release said. The county agreed to pay $1.25 million, or 25 percent. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay half, and the landowner will pay the remaining 25 percent, according to the news release. If developed, the property could have had 200 homes.
The Penn Center property, owned by the center, totals 92 acres and is used for hay production and livestock grazing. It lies near the site of a future Beaufort County library and, if developed, could have accommodated 30 homes, the county release said. The total cost of the easement was $484,500, split between the county and the USDA. The price represents 75 percent of the $646,500 appraised value, the release said.
The 28.3 acre Eddings Creek property, owned by Tree Hope Investments and Robert Sample, will cost $409,250, split between the county and the USDA. The appraised value was $987,000, the release said. The easement will protect the headwaters of Eddings Creek by serving as a buffer against a large-scale agricultural operation nearby, according to the release. It will allow for construction of two homes and one dock but will retire 20 home sites and one dock permit. It is next to Henry Farm, where 300 acres were protected in June through the county's land preservation program.