Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bluffton a "State of Mind" !!

What is the character of Bluffton? That is what the town has been trying to wrestle with over the past few years. A number of years ago we would see bumper stickers proclaiming Bluffton "State of Mind", and I for one was never sure what that state of mind was. The characters that I knew in Bluffton often had altered state's of mind!! I don't think that is what they had in mind when they made the bumper stickers.

These bumper stickers were all over the place in the early 80's. While at USC there was one Irmo "State of Mind" Irmo is a little town near Lake Norman outside of Columbia, very similar to Bluffton.

Both towns had a mix of eclectic characters ranging from the very wealthy to homeless. You might see the two of them having coffee together, it made no difference where you were in life's cycle. That State of Mind is still in Bluffton, but in 2008 almost 30 years later, it is being commercialized and the town is trying to define it.

So, what is the Bluffton Character? Their is no one answer, but I am sure that the Boudreaux Group will be able to help establish the essence of what is needed today in Bluffton. The residents of Bluffton will need to understand that it is going to cost money to transform the town into the new image that they want. It is not the developers responsibility to foot every brick that residents want to see. Obviously, the developers will need to pay their fair and proportionate share of impact fees, but to revitalize the Historic District to a new image is not the developers responsibility.

The town should have implemented a TIFF program a number of years ago to revitalize the down town area, or implemented a hospitality sales tax or other means to pay for the new "State of Mind"

I for one am understanding and look forward to what becomes of the new character for Bluffton.

Property of Charlie B Fraser 2008
Below is the article from the Island Packet

Draft report on Bluffton's 'character' expected in mid-December
By RENEE DUDLEYrdudley@islandpacket.com843-706-8138
Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008

With two hearings Tuesday, Bluffton residents had their final public opportunity to help define the elusive characteristics that make the town unique.
For several months, the town's planning department has held consultant-led workshops to gather opinions on what development should look like as the town continues to expand.
In the past, officials from the Historic Preservation Commission -- the group that approves new development in old town -- and from the Planning Commission have told builders that their structures must have "Bluffton character." Often, those officials are unable to specifically define the term. It is that lack of clarity that leaves developers frustrated.
Now, the Boudreaux Group, led by consultant Irene Tyson, will compile a report based on all the comments from a series of three meetings about town character. Two of those meetings were held Tuesday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Town officials could use the report to point to examples of acceptable
architecture in new developments.
Some attendees at Tuesday's
afternoon session said they were concerned the town might try to enforce a rigid set of guidelines that would limit the diversity of new construction.
As Tyson showed the group pictures of "acceptable" examples of Bluffton character submitted by staff and
residents, those in attendance, including Wallace Milling of the Historic Preservation Commission, said not every new structure needs to resemble a Calhoun Street cottage.
Others agreed, saying Bluffton's old town character includes a mix of residential and commercial uses, and its architecture includes a variety of styles and materials.
Many in the group, which included several architects, said they wanted to see "timeless" architecture and the addition of high-quality parks.
They said they don't want the town to be "overly-landscaped." They also said they don't want to see architectural elements, such as dormers and false shutters, added to buildings just because they're perceived to be Bluffton's style.
The draft report, which will include photographs, will be presented to the town by mid-December, Tyson said. The final report will be completed by the end of January, she said.
The town is paying Tyson's group about $18,200 to lead the study.

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