Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bluffton sees future in proposed "green" community
Published Monday, September 8, 2008

When Hilton Head Island was first being developed more than 40 years ago, planners in communities like Sea Pines paid close attention to the impact construction had on the environment.
Planners wanted to maintain a natural setting by building around stately trees and fragile wetlands. Homes were designed to blend into the natural setting.
But as more developers came to the island -- and later, to Bluffton -- that philosophy started to fade, some planners have said.
Now, with a certified "green" community likely coming to Bluffton, those original guiding principles may be making a comeback.
Developers of Garvey Preserve, which has received Bluffton Planning Commission approval and a preliminary OK from the Town Council, plan to build 68 homes on 98 acres using closely monitored, environmental standards.
The council will likely give its
final approval later this month to
annex and zone those 98 acres, west of S.C. 46 and S.C. 170 along the New River.
If that approval is granted, Garvey Preserve would become the first community of its kind in South Carolina -- a community former planning commission chairman Don Blair hopes will become a model for the county and the state.
"You can say, 'it's farmland, it's already green,' " said Blair, who still serves on the commission. "But development is going to happen in response to demand. People want to move here. We can't shut the door, obviously. We can try to make the quality of development as high as we possibly can in response to those people's needs."
The project would require third-party certification that each step of the development process is completed according to standards for protecting the environment in a coastal
Each criterion earns points for the project from the EarthCraft Communities Program. The project must earn a minimum number of points to be certified as green.
For example, the site is graded on its proximity to public transportation and bike paths. It would receive points for being connected to public sewers rather than septic systems, for adhering to strict stormwater guidelines and for availability to parks. Points are also earned for preserving trees, minimizing street width and public parking, and maximizing open space, among other things.
Truitt Rabun Jr., a landscape architect involved in the project, said Garvey Preserve already meets the numbers required for certification.
Current Beaufort County zoning of the site allows 39 homes to be built on the land; plans for Garvey Preserve call for 68.
The developer, Quinnco Companies, originally asked Bluffton in December to annex the land and zone it to allow
92 residential lots.
Since that December request, Quinnco has overhauled plans for the site -- designs that members of planning staffs from Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County have approved of in letters sent to Bluffton staff. Both the island and the county were notified of Quinnco's plans as a courtesy. Jasper County
officials were also notified of the plans, but it is unclear if officials there have responded.
Plans now call for the homes to be built in clusters to allow more open space, Rabun said. Quinnco still would be allowed to build more houses in Bluffton than it would have as a part of the county. Blair said after a recent planning commission meeting that the increase in density is justified because of the green building approach.
He also said Bluffton's planning staff would accompany third-party inspectors to periodically review the development process.
Certified green homes cost an average of 5 to 7 percent more to build, according to national estimates. It is not clear how much homes in Garvey Preserve will cost. Its development plan allows it to be a gated community, but it is also unclear if it will be.

Comments property of Charlie Fraser

The above article was in the Island Packet in September. I want to applaud the developers for wanting to use good land planning practices for new developments in the Bluffton area.

I just hope they do not fall in the same category as the large "Track Builders" and come in and clear entire areas to build and then plant a few trees and grow some grass.

The City of Bluffton needs to make sure they are doing all that they can to control and supervise the new developments coming along in Bluffton to make sure they are environmentally sensitive. The better job they do in approval and over site the nicer Bluffton will be for us all.

Citizens of Bluffton need to get and be diligent in making sure the developers do what they say they intended to do.

The City of Bluffton has benefited from the good developers who have the foresight to hire the best land planners, engineers and builders. John Reed and his team have done an excellent job in the communities they have developed.

So make your voice heard and make sure the City follows through with the over site.

Charlie Fraser BIC

cell . 843.290.0807
office . 843.671.3312

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