Lots cut from proposed development after talks – Coastal Observer
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Lots cut from proposed development after talks

Owners of the property proposed creating a conservation easement on a nearby tract to offset the density increase on this parcel.

Plans for a new residential subdivision on Petigru Drive will be scaled back and a proposed townhouse project will be scrapped following talks between the property owners and the citizens group Keep It Green.

“We had a good conversation,” said Guerry Green, a partner in Old Kings Highway LLC. “The more you talk, the better your chances of finding some common ground.”

Green and his partner, David Gundling, have applied to create a “flexible design district” on 8.8 acres at the corner of Petigru and Martin Luther King Road that would allow 26 single-family homes. The property is currently zoned “half-acre residential,” which would allow 17 lots.

Keep It Green raised objections to increasing the number of lots, citing the goals of the county’s land-use plan to limit residential development on Waccamaw Neck. The group also questioned whether the request met the goal of the “flexible design district” to provide usable open space in exchange for higher density.

Green and Gundling then coupled the rezoning with a change to 7 acres they also own on Petigru Drive that is part of the River Club “planned development.” They proposed reducing the density on the smaller tract while increasing density on the larger tract.

The River Club was approved for 400 dwellings in the early 1980s. Only 333 were built in the gated community. The partners argued that their parcel outside the gates, which had been designated as a maintenance area, had the potential for 67 units. They proposed 20 townhouses on half the property with the remainder, including wetlands, placed in a conservation easement to prevent future development.

After meeting with Keep It Green members, the partners said this week that they will reduce the number of lots in the larger tract to 22. The smaller tract will be placed in a conservation easement that will allow for two single-family lots.

“We didn’t want to put 67 units there,” Green said. “It’s better for it to have an easement and put a couple of houses there.”

The Georgetown County Planning Commission was due to hold a hearing on both requests today. The partners will ask to defer the requests so they can make changes.

“We were very pleased that Guerry was willing to sit down and listen,” said Cindy Person, the attorney for Keep It Green.

The larger tract will be sold to Toll Brothers, a national developer.

The “flexible design district” zoning means the property won’t be developed with 17 driveways on Petigru Drive, which provides a link to Stables Park and Litchfield Country Club.

“Probably the lots will get bigger and the setbacks will get bigger,” Gundling said. “There will be a nice buffer along MLK.”

Toll Brothers wants to create a neighborhood on a cul-de-sac.

“Hopefully, Toll Brothers will stick to their plan. They make a very good product,” Green said.

For the conservation easement, Green hopes to reconstitute the Winyah Conservancy, an entity he helped create with the late Jimmy Chandler, founder of the S.C. Environmental Law Project.

The conservancy could hold the easement to small, local tracts that regional or national conservation groups wouldn’t be interested in. “They want hundreds of acres,” Green said.

“I know of so many examples of people who want to protect their land” but don’t have that kind of acreage, he said. “It’s a tool for any group that wants to, I use the word collaborate, with a developer to basically voice their concerns.”

Also on the agenda for the Planning Commission today is a proposal from County Council Member Bob Anderson to change the requirements of the “general residential” zoning district to require that developments over 3 acres with more than 10 units would have to preserve half the property as open space. Anderson said the goal was to limit residential density.

The commission held a public hearing last month that attracted one speaker, from the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors, who opposed the idea.

Commission members also raised questions about the impact on affordable housing and minority property owners. There are about 30 tracts over 3 acres zoned “general residential” in the Pawleys Island area and four tracts in the Murrells Inlet area.

At the request of the commission, planning staff sent notices of the proposed change to those property owners.

Bertie Bunch of Columbia, who owns 4.3 acres on the South Causeway, called it “a ridiculous idea.” It would reduce her property value by 50 percent.

“Here’s a thought,” she wrote the commission. “How about reducing all property taxes on Waccamaw Neck by 50 percent?”

LOCAL EVENTS

Meetings

Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us.

Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Howard Auditorium, Hawkins Street, Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org.

Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Virtual meetings.For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com.

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