(Part Two in a Series. Read Part One here.)
As I mentioned in the last issue, Port Royal is in the midst of making significant history…again. The first part of this series took a look at the town’s various eras of prosperity as well as its many instances of untimely fate. By understanding the town’s history, readers can now share in the contagious excitement surrounding the current slate of events that will put 2011/2012 on the town’s perpetual timeline of monumental feats.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should all congratulate the Town of Port Royal and give thanks to its residents and leaders for not giving up. There have been many opportunities to throw in the towel. But, instead, the town has continuously strived for economic success and, in recent years, coupled smart growth with environmentally conscious and historic preservation decisions. And all the while, the townspeople, staff and politicians have propelled themselves with positive enthusiasm.
In fact, Van Willis, the Town’s Manager, described working with developers, business people and residents by commenting, “As we read a code, we try to find an answer of yes, rather than no.”
That says it all. In this time of economic turmoil, Willis’ attitude is pivotal for reviving a stagnant market. And now the Town has a respectful relationship and open dialogue with groups like the Coastal Conservation League. The Town wants to deliver a product that works for the majority, and in doing so, remain protective of the fragile environment that is and surrounds the Port Royal Sound.
The second part of this series explains three key events currently taking place within the Town of Port Royal that are sure to enhance the quality of life for all residents of Beaufort County: approval of the redevelopment plan for the Port of Port Royal, a proposal to house the Port Royal Sound Foundation at the Lemon Island Marina and the completion of the Cypress Wetlands Project on Paris Avenue.
Town of Port Royal approves redevelopment plan
The Port of Port Royal to be a commercial and residential destination
It’s been eight years since Gov. Mark Sanford signed legislation to sell the Port Of Port Royal, valuable waterfront acreage on Battery Creek owned by the State. After three failed plans, Port Royal Town Council voted 4-1 on Wednesday, November 9 to approve a commercial and residential destination, which will put the property back into the hands of the municipality. The Town of Port Royal, its residents and visitors will soon be able to enjoy the property as their own once more, and they couldn’t be happier.
The Port Royal Redevelopment Group has proposed a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that incorporates design principles from traditional neighborhood design practice, the State of South Carolina State Ports Authority Redevelopment Study by Wood+Partners Inc., the Town of Port Royal’s A New Vision for the Port study by Design Collective, Inc., and the Traditional Town Overlay District within the Town of Port Royal Code of Ordinances. The overall redevelopment plan includes 52 acres of upland area and 266 acres of critical wetlands
The Port Royal Redevelopment Group has a vision for preserving and extending the Town’s traditional character into the Port site through promoting a mix of land uses and residential types to support a variety of choices in lifestyles and needs of the citizens of Port Royal. Within the PUD, five zoning districts with different development standards have been established: Ribaut Village (residential mixed use village), Bluff Neighborhood (residential mixed use), Marina Village (marina mixed use), Port Village (hotel mixed use) and Civic Open Space.
The PUD may include up to 425 dwelling units, 250,000 square feet of commercial, retail, office, light industrial and hotel space and a 225-slip marina. Civic Open Space will include an acre on Paris Avenue, almost 10 acres on London Avenue and 3 acres of a pedestrian waterfront boardwalk, promenade and trail.
The plan is well liked by townspeople, and residents are eager to begin construction. They have lived on the outside of an uninviting chain-linked fence for years, waiting patiently for the opportunity to enjoy the waterfront property. And now, the time has finally come. Port Royal’s destiny is unfolding, and Beaufort County is about to be awed.
For more information about the redevelopment plan, please visit www.portroyal.org.
Port Royal Sound Foundation
Connecting people with the waters and lands of the Port Royal Sound
The Port Royal Sound Foundation, a newly formed non-profit dedicated to advancing awareness of the Port Royal Sound, announced Saturday, November 19 plans to occupy the Lemon Island Marina, located at the southern foot of the Chechessee Bridge and owned by 303 Associates. Lemon Island was annexed into the Town of Port Royal in 2006, giving the municipality 105 acres of more prime real estate.
After many battles, failed plans and a weak economy, the fate of the Lemon Island Marina was uncertain. And now, many see this proposal as one that will work for the site, and the Port Royal Sound Foundation is equally pleased with the selection.
The Port Royal Sound Foundation provides people with opportunities to experience and connect with the Port Royal Sound system; and there is probably no better site in the middle of drivable Beaufort County and so close to Port Royal Sound than the Lemon Island Marina. The educational and ecological research opportunities available to the residents of Beaufort County are endless at this location.
The Port Royal Sound Foundation is an organization dedicated to the betterment and conservation of the waters and lands of the unique salt marsh ecosystem that is the Port Royal Sound Estuary system. Its mission is to advance the awareness of Port Royal Sound and its contributions to the environmental, cultural, and economic well-being of the area, the region, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Kathryn Madden is the Execuitive Director of the Foundation.
Madden explains, “The Port Royal Sound Foundation is a new name but we will continue to focus on raising public awareness of the uniqueness of the Port Royal Sound, the surrounding waterways and lands, and the people tied to our waters. We seek to educate the public on how to best preserve and conserve our resources for generations by celebrating in smart water practices. We believe people want to be good stewards of our lands and waters surrounding Port Royal Sound. We also know, people can and will influence the dynamic stability of our unique ecosystem.”
One of Port Royal Sound Foundation’s outreach programs is Riversmart, which collaborates with individuals, organizations, grassroots groups, land trusts, scientists, government agencies and municipalities to act as a guide and connector ensuring that conservation efforts within the region are coordinated and effective. Programs include Kids in Kayaks and Anti-litter art projects.
Another unique project currently endorsed by the Port Royal Sound Foundation is David Harter’s fisheries research, specifically on Cobia and Red Drum in our area. More information about this important and popular subject will be provided in an in-depth feature about South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources in the December 7th issue.
For additional information on membership opportunities and upcoming programs, please visit portroyalsoundfoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cypress Wetlands Project Almost Complete
Diverse wildlife habitat will also offer outdoor recreational opportunities
Overgrown weeds once covered a hidden area of Port Royal that will soon be a preferred destination for walkers, a venue for outdoor gatherings and a refuge for wildlife. The Cypress Wetlands Project, constructed adjacent to Paris Avenue, is nearing completion and will offer an opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy marsh, lake, duck pond and Bald Cypress swamp habitats while participating in a variety of outdoor activities.
The project, expected to cost $400,000, includes a trail around the diverse habitats for birds, an amphitheater and stage and signage to identify plants and wildlife. Drainage improvements will help restore the critical wetlands to their original state and manage millions of gallons of stormwater runoff before it reaches Battery Creek and Beaufort River, making the project favorable for the environment.