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Bluewater Marine and Resort plans to begin construction on its 18-acre, 214-unit time share on the banks of the Skull Creek by this summer, after the developer received an all-clear from the town two weeks ago.'
Hilton Head Island officials gave notice to the project's developers that they could move forward with permitting in March after inspecting the site, according to town staffers. The developer has been working for two years to clear up a handful of issues and concerns about the project, including worries over roads, requirements to protect certain trees and the protests of nearby residents who said the resort's traffic would jam the area.'
The developer, Bluewater Marine and Resort LLC, has done some preliminary clearing at the site and is applying for permits, construction manager Charlie Halterman said. He said the company does not know yet what the timeline or the projected cost will be for the project, but he said they will have a better sense of the cost after construction estimates arrive at the end of the month.'
"We don't really have a ballpark on it yet," he said. "Everything's so uncertain with construction until I have the permits in hand."'
The project ran into a snag last year when the town's Board of Zoning Appeals denied a request to remove three large trees that are considered "specimen" trees and are protected under town law. But the developer was able to shift the plans to avoid having to remove those trees, said Teri Lewis, the town's manager of development review and zoning.'
The town also is working on drafting plans for a traffic circle at the intersection of Squire Pope and Gumtree roads in front of the resort site. The plans will be ready by August, when the town will turn them over to the developer, who will handle the construction, said Darrin Shoemaker, the town's traffic and transportation engineer.'
The town agreed to help plan the circle on the roads to improve traffic flow, Shoemaker said, but the construction costs will be covered by the developer.'
"It is our intention to simply turn the engineering plans and responsibility over to the developers of Bluewater when the plans are done," he said. "We're going to be developing the plans ... and saying, 'Go ahead and have this built with your contractors.' "'
The project, managed by Ken Taylor of Spinnaker Resorts, also includes plans to install a larger sewage system than required, which will help in the town's long-term plans to install a sewage network in the surrounding native islander community, Halterman said.'
Despite its original requests to remove the specimen trees from the site, the developer has been working to make the site environmentally friendly and preserve other vegetation, said David Malcolm, a landscape architect with Wood and Partners, the planning firm the developer hired for the project.'
"Tree preservation has been a big key part of this thing," he said. "We really worked hard to keep this plan environmentally friendly."