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The Beaufort County Council unanimously denied a rezoning request from three cousins Monday that would have allowed for more dense development on 142 acres near the Okatie River.
The proposal would have changed the land's rural zoning to commercial and suburban districts.
The land, north of U.S. 278 and west of Berkeley Hall, stretches about three-fourths of a mile along the banks of the Okatie. The full council followed the recommendations of county staff and a subcommittee in denying the request.
"It's a complex issue," Councilman Stu Rodman said. "In the very near term, we ask the Rural and Critical Lands Program, as well as the planning department to be in communication" with the Graves family, which has held parts of the tract for more than 130 years.
The county's Rural and Critical Lands Program negotiates and purchases development rights to preserve environmentally sensitive land similar to the Graves tract, but discussions with the Graves family for preserving the land could not begin while the zoning proposal was still being considered by County Council, according to council Vice Chairman Paul Sommerville.
No Graves family members spoke at Monday's meeting, but they have argued that they have been good stewards of the land and it's not fair to deny them the opportunity to develop their property as some of their neighbors have.
In other action Monday: