Planning Commission to consider Graves zoning plan Monday

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Planning Commission to consider Graves zoning plan Monday

By CASEY CONLEY
cconley@ilsandpacket.com
Published Saturday, January 5, 2013   |  532 Words  |  

A proposal to allow more development on the 113-acre Graves tract near the Okatie River will be the subject of an informal review by the Beaufort County Planning Commission on Monday.

The plan, offered by three Graves family cousins, seeks approval for greater commercial density on 65 acres that face U.S. 278, and mixed commercial and residential uses on 48 acres at the rear of the property. The land is sandwiched between U.S 278, Berkeley Hall and the Okatie River in greater Bluffton. The Graves family has owned the tract for about 130 years.

The rezoning review is separate from negotiations with the county to buy and preserve 28 acres along the Okatie also owned by the family.

County attorney Josh Gruber said the commission has agreed only to hear an overview of the plan. No votes will be taken because the family has not submitted a required traffic study.

Despite that, an attorney for the family said his clients intend to make the most of Monday's hearing.

"We are going to present all of the elements of the amended re-zoning request except for traffic," said Jim Scheider of the Bluffton firm Vaux & Marscher.

The goal, he said, is to get information on those issues out as a way to accelerate the Planning Commission's review in the coming months.

County Council has the final authority to approve the zoning changes.

Since 2010, family members have twice failed to get the property rezoned.

Current zoning on the land allows as many as 57 houses and as much as 5,000 square feet of commercial space.

A rezoning plan rejected in April would have allowed more than 400 houses and 1.4-million square feet of commercial space. The denial came amid concerns over how development would affect the Okatie, which the state deemed impaired in 1995.

The family's current request would cap commercial space at 700,000 square feet and limit new commercial buildings to 75,000 square feet.

In September, Beaufort County Council rejected the family's offer to sell 10 acres along the river for $10.5 million and permanently conserve 18 more in exchange for the rezoning. The sides disagreed at the time about the land's value. Gruber also required the rezoning be reviewed separately from the land sale.

Negotiations on a possible sale began again last month. As of this week neither party indicated they were close to an agreement.

Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.

Related content:

Graves family, county inch closer to deal on river land, Dec. 17, 2012

Graves family: Beaufort County land appraisal too low, Sept. 17, 2012

Not buying: Beaufort County rejects Graves' sale offer on Okatie land tract, Sept. 10, 2012


Graves family frustrated by county red tape on rezoning Bluffton property, April 4, 2012