Revised plan adds restriction for redeveloping golf courses – Coastal Observer


Revised plan adds restriction for redeveloping golf courses

Future land use maps under review at a public forum.

The latest draft of Georgetown County’s land use plan calls for tougher stormwater regulations and sets a goal of preserving half of the undeveloped land remaining on Waccamaw Neck.

It also calls for property now used for golf courses to remain low density if those courses are redeveloped.

The Planning Commission held a workshop on the draft plan this week. It agreed to hold a public hearing in April. The commission must approve the plan before it goes to County Council for approval, along with another hearing.

The previous draft drew criticism at a public forum last month.

“A lot of the comments were broad,” Holly Richardson, the county planning director, said.

But those that focused on stormwater, traffic and the preservation of natural and cultural resources were addressed in the revision that the Planning Commission will review.

References to four-story buildings were eliminated. Three stories is the tallest allowed under the county’s current height limits. 

References to residential density were also changed from gross to net. “They had written it as gross. We kind of live by net,” Richardson said of the consultants, led by the Columbia firm, Boudreaux, who were hired by the county to update the plan.

The gross density is based on the size of a parcel and the number of units. Net density removes any unbuildable areas and infrastructure from the calculation.

“The other argument is, you can’t build on it anyway,” Richardson said. “That was a pretty big jump to make.”

The gross density metric drew criticism at the forum as a back door way to increase density.

The latest version of the plan adds an objective to “maintain low and medium density residential as the predominant land use on the Waccamaw Neck.”

It also cites the county’s new stormwater master plan for the Waccamaw Neck and its goals of implementing tougher design standards in four “stormwater protection areas.” It includes an objective to “implement stormwater regulations that decrease runoff volume” to water bodies.

While the plan also calls for incentives to promote the creation of affordable housing, the latest version also has a caveat that affordable housing also has to fit within the restrictions imposed by resource protection and be compatible with existing communities.

The earlier drafts of the plan didn’t address the potential redevelopment of golf courses. Those are now shown on future land use maps as “private recreation,” which limits residential development.

“The consultants didn’t have a category for that,” Richardson said. “Are we losing that protection? We batted it around.”

The planning  staff proposed language that says any change to a golf course within a “planned development” zoning district – which is the majority – “shall maintain and preserve a significant portion of the property as existing greenspace” or cluster development to limit impacts.

For the Founders Club, Caledonia and True Blue, which aren’t in planned developments,  any new development would “maintain a low overall density that preserves a significant portion of the existing greenspace.”

“We can’t force someone to keep a golf course open, but you want to have some protection in place,” Richardson said.

The land use plan is one of 10 elements of the comprehensive plan that the state requires local governments to adopt and maintain. The current plan was adopted in 2007.

Once the update is approved, the county plans to rewrite its zoning regulations.

“It’s all going to come down to the code. It’s got to be something we can implement,” Richardson said.



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