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A local family is again bidding to rezone a 143-acre parcel north of U.S. 278, east of the Okatie River, and again is meeting resistance.
Robert, John and Paul Graves have made several unsuccessful rezoning attempts since about 2000, including a try last year to annex the property into the town of Bluffton. The family has a proposal before a Beaufort County committee to change the land's zoning designation from "rural" to "suburban" and "commercial regional," which would allow more development.
However, county planning staff recommended against the change earlier this month, citing an increase in traffic on U.S. 278 and the potential for development to damage the nearby Okatie River headwaters. The Southern Beaufort County Subcommittee for the Beaufort County Planning Commission voted 3-2 to send the request to the Planning Commission without recommendation. The full Planning Division will hear the request at its Feb. 6 meeting.
Robert Graves, the family's unofficial spokesman on matters regarding the tract, says he's not sure yet what might be built if the rezoing is approved, but the family's options broaden as U.S. 278 is expanded from four to six lanes.
"That depends on what the market dictates," he said.Milt Rhodes, a land planner working for the Graves, said the type of zoning district is not always a good indicator of what a development's environmental impact will be.
"Most folks think that higher intensity development is more harmful," Rhodes said, "but it's not always true that lower intensity is less harmful."
In rural zones, density is limited to one house per three acres, which must use septic systems if they aren't close enough or don't have special reason to attach to sewer lines. Septic systems, according to a 2010 Okatie River report issued by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, should be minimized because the risk of leakage increases with their age.
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