Tuesday, January 14, 2014 articles (index)
Editor’s statement to Planning Commission
The following is the statement of George Trask, editor and publisher of The Beaufort Tribune, to the Metropolitan Planning Commission at last evening’s meeting, January 13, 2014:
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January 13, 2014
To: Members of the Metropolitan Planning Commission
From: George Graham Trask, a resident of the Bluff residential neighborhood
1211 Bay Street
People often stand up before you to tell you what they are against. I am here to tell you what I am for.
1. I am for Beautiful Beaufort by the sea, which is universally regarded as “One of the most beautiful small towns in America” and “One of the best small towns in America”. What everyone emphasizes about Beautiful Beaufort that makes it so wonderful is that it is a small town.
2. I am for preserving the beauty and uniqueness of downtown, especially the historic residential neighborhoods that are a part of downtown.
3. I am for a healthy, growing, vibrant economy in Beaufort, especially downtown.
4. I am for obeying the law and for honoring the commitments made by our City Council and by our Federal government. Those commitments include zoning that we residents accomplished after 50 years of effort to make sure the downtown waterfront parking lot is a Conservation Preservation Zoning District and not a Core Commercial Zoning District. Those commitments also include a contract with the Federal government that this parking lot would remain open space.
Now comes our Redevelopment Commission whose statutory mandate is to “renovate, revitalize and regenerate distressed areas of Beaufort” with a proposal to destroy small town Beaufort and turn it into downtown Charleston or downtown Mount Pleasant.
This is not an effort to renovate, revitalize or regenerate a distressed area of Beaufort. This is an effort to cut the heart out of small-town Beaufort and make us into a high density, jam-packed urban center.
I mention Mount Pleasant because in just a few short years that beautiful old waterfront community has been destroyed by the very same hotels, apartments, shops, offices, restaurants and condominiums envisioned by the Redevelopment Commission for these three blocks of downtown Beaufort. Mount Pleasant has become barely distinguishable from Los Angeles, California.
Attached is an editorial in The (Charleston) Post and Courier two days ago that makes this very point. Former Governor Jim Edwards is quoted in the editorial as saying: “This is the most wonderful place on Earth to live and I don’t want to see it go to rack and ruin.”
Well, ladies and gentlemen, Jim Edwards is correct in everything he said except that BEAUFORT is even more wonderful that Mount Pleasant was. The Planning Commission should have no part in seeing Beautiful Beaufort go to rack and ruin.
I say to those who are pushing this proposal that downtown Beaufort is not downtown Charleston nor what downtown Mount Pleasant has unfortunately become. If you want what they have, move to Charleston or Mount Pleasant. But don’t ruin Beautiful Beaufort.
I am today calling on open minded citizens to form a select committee to come up with a true vision for downtown Beaufort for the 21st Century and to present it to City Council, if necessary to a different set of members of City Council.
Meanwhile, I ask the Planning Commission to uphold its mandate and delay any action on the Redevelopment Commission’s plans until complete plans are brought to you for what they propose. Rezoning the three blocks before understanding the details of what they propose, and the implications to the future of Beaufort of what they propose, is the height of folly.