Town Revises the Development Standards Ordinance

The Town’s Development Standards Ordinance (DSO) governs how we may use land on Seabrook Island and what the owner of a property may build on it.  In a nutshell, the DSO prescribes what we may do with a piece of property and guides the work of several parts of Town government—Town Council, employees of the Town, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

It could be said, and rightly so, that our current DSO is chaotic.  The last significant review occurred nearly ten years ago in February of 2011, and about a dozen additions and changes have been made since then.   Thorough review and revision is long overdue.

Since key topics, trends, state statutes, and case law in the field of planning and zoning are constantly changing, it is simply good practice to review the DSO regularly to ensure that our ordinances remain current with best practices and evolving legal requirements.  We are fortunate that this project is occurring at a time when we are also updating the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, because the DSO is linked to many of the Comprehensive Plan elements and is the primary tool for implementing the Plan’s recommendations.

Due to the project’s size and complexity, we expect it could take as long as 12-18 months to complete.  To assist in this endeavor, the Town has contracted the services of Paul LeBlanc of PLB Planning Group who has extensive nationwide experience in this type of work.

The project will gather input from many Seabrook Island stakeholders.  In addition to Town officials, it will involve representatives of SIPOA, The Club, builders and contractors, our multi-family regimes and associations, and local businesses.  We have established an Advisory Committee to review project progress and make periodic reports to Council. Participants in the Advisory Committee are Councilman Skip Crane (Chair), Gary Quigley (Vice Chair), Katrina Burrell (SIPOA Director of Administration and Architectural Review), Wayne Billian, Bob Driscoll, Ava Kleinman, Walter Sewell, Roger Steel, and Ed Williams.

As of mid-May, the Advisory Committee had held an orientation meeting, and Mr. LeBlanc had met with Council, the Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and representatives from some key stakeholder groups.  The next step is for Mr. LeBlanc to complete a technical review of the DSO, present results to the Advisory Committee, set a framework for the project work, and provide a “style guide” for the new ordinance. At that point, the team will be able to set a schedule for upcoming work and meetings.  The project’s progress will be reported regularly through the minutes of Town Council meetings.

-Submitted by Skip Crane, Seabrook Island Town Council

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