Bluffton approves changes to pacts

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Bluffton approves changes to pacts

BY TRAVIS LOLLER<br>THE ISLAND PACKET
Published Thursday, April 14, 2005 in The Island Packet  |  650 Words  |  /IslandPacket/news/local

BLUFFTON -- It's all systems go for four communities that will fill a majority of the open land in the Buckwalter and Jones tracts.'
The Bluffton Town Council voted Wednesday to approve the master plans for more than 3,800 homes on about 2,900 acres. All the votes were unanimous except for a proposal for the 955-home Hampton Lake community. Councilwoman Lisa Sulka abstained from that vote because her employer is the developer.'
The plans were approved after council voted unanimously to make changes to its agreements with developers in the Buckwalter and Jones tracts that officials hope will solve some of the town's growth-related problems.'
The changes affect eight developers who all agreed to give the town $900 per home in development fees and allow possible tax districts on their undeveloped property.'
D.R. Horton, the company that plans to build the Cypress Ridge and Mill Creek communities in the Jones tract, is contributing $500,000 to the town for public works projects. It also is donating about 25 acres that the town hopes to use as part of a future extension of the Bluffton Parkway between S.C. 170 and Interstate 95.'
There is no funding or plan for that extension yet. The donation will allow the parkway to be extended from its currently planned end at S.C. 170 about 1.8 miles toward I-95. That would leave about a five-mile gap between the end of the parkway and the interstate.'
The parkway has been completed from Burnt Church Road only as far as Simmonsville Road. Helping finance the construction of the parkway between Simmonsville Road and S.C. 170 is one of the town's top priorities for the money it is receiving from developers.'
In return for the donations, the town agreed to allow D.R. Horton to build 194 additional homes on its property, making the total number of homes allowed in the two communities 1,844.'
As part of the changes to the Buckwalter agreement, nine different developers are building a portion of the Hampton Parkway and providing the town with $1.3 million for its completion. That road will run parallel and to the west of the Buckwalter Parkway between U.S. 278 and the future extension of the Bluffton Parkway.'
Offers from developers began after town officials put a one-month hold on approvals of most new development in December, saying rapid growth was causing traffic jams and school overcrowding. The town has said it will use the money it collects to solve those and other problems.'
In other business, the council voted 5-0 to remove "no parking" signs on a one-block area of Calhoun Street. The signs were approved last year at the request of Calhoun Street resident Mary Graves and affected only Graves and one other resident, Lois Giebner.'
Giebner told the council Wednesday that she was not consulted on the signs and is upset that her children are not allowed to park in front of her house. Councilman Jacob Preston made a motion to remove the signs with the option to revisit the decision when staff completes a study of parking conditions in the old town.'
The council also gave initial approval to a proposal to annex 0.89 acres on S.C. 46 across from the Bluffton Parkway. Land planner Don Guscio said the owner, Millard Oakley, wants to come into the town limits to take advantage of the "relaxed setbacks" that village commercial zoning allows. Bluffton's setbacks in the village commercial area generally range from zero to 15 feet from the road.'
Councilwoman Lucille Mitchell said the town should annex Buck Island and Simmonsville roads before other properties. Mayor Hank Johnston proposed the council hold off on a final vote on the annexation until the Buck Island and Simmonsville annexation was in process.'
The council voted 5-0 to approve the plan.