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A measure to consider annexing 235 acres scattered along both sides of the Okatie River between U.S. 278 and S.C. 170 failed Thursday following a tie vote by Bluffton Town Council.
The annexation request by six developers -- Robert Graves, Gordon Faulknor, Paul Graves Sr., John Tamplet Graves Jr., Sanders Development Company and Robert Wilson Sanders Jr. -- was opposed by a group of 30 residents from Berkeley Hall, Sun City Hilton Head and Riverbend.
Developers proposed building 705 residential units on 90 acres of the land.
Beaufort County's rural zoning laws allows one unit for every three acres. Currently, most of the land in question is zoned for rural use, said Wendy Powers, assistant town manager for planning.
The developers also want to use an additional 145 acres for commercial projects.
Powers estimated only 45 acres could be used for that purpose under current zoning limits.
Developers want all of the land rezoned as a planned unit development, a move that would allow the land to be used in a variety of ways.
Council members Charlie Wetmore and Oliver Brown voted against moving the annexation forward.
Lisa Sulka and Fred Hamilton voted for it.
The tie-breaking vote would have been cast by Mayor Hank Johnston, who is in London. He could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Wetmore said he was concerned the town already is behind in providing new infrastructure like schools and roads. He also was against giving the developers the ability to build more than would have been allowed to in Beaufort County.
About two-thirds of the land in question has been identified as suitable for annexation in the town's comprehensive plan. The remaining third has not.
The town is required to hear requests for annexation. Thursday's proposal was the first time this particular request had come before the town.
Had it been approved, the town's Development Agreement Negotiating Committee would have met with the developers over the coming months to create a preliminary plan for town council review.
<b>IN OTHER ACTION</b>
Town Council took no action on both a proposed noise ordinance and a one that could require old town property owners to repair historical structures or face fines.