In Defense of Special Places

by | Mar 7, 2007

Island Packet columnist and long time Lowcountry resident, David Lauderdale, unloads in his front page opinion piece today. He says Bluffton’s natural beauty makes it a unique place to live, and that it’s wrong to apply the same standards here that are relied upon in “Anywhereville, U.S.A.”

Here’s the essence of Lauderdale’s argument:

In the past five years, Beaufort County has issued more than 10,000 building permits in greater Bluffton, and the town of Bluffton issued more than 3,400. Too few people oversaw the environmental impact of all this construction.

Our dear, wacky Bluffton has been turned into a verb. People now refer to unchecked growth as getting “Blufftonized.” Getting Blufftonized means too much, too fast. It means developers set the pace. It means years of citizen outcry goes largely unheeded. It means sitting in traffic. It means do-it-yesterday growth takes control when local governments need to say, “Do it our way, or hit the highway.”

We need the same things today that were asked for a decade ago: a limited-access bypass, secondary roads, interconnected neighborhoods, parks, and a throttle on the rate of growth so it is timed to the availability of roads, schools and parks.

We need to plant tens of thousands of oak trees all over Okatie. We need a land-buying program for Bluffton.

We need strong enforcement of the laws and regulations already on the books.

Personally, I’ve never seen anything like Bluffton. The pace of building is astounding. When we moved here just over two years ago, I said in jest that soon there would be an interstate running from downtown Bluffton to downtown Savannah, replacing the tree-lined two-lane roads. Having taken those roads to and from Savannah yesterday, I can see that my “joke” is fast becoming reality.