We are here to again voice our interest in achieving the best future redevelopment of the properties in the Historic District that adjoin the Bladen Street Redevelopment District and to reiterate our belief that that can best be accomplished by retaining Historic District Review Board (HDRB) oversight for those properties.
HBF is concerned about the potential expansion of the Bladen Street Redevelopment District throughout the Historic District. It has been implied that any parcel in the Historic District might be subject to rezoning to Bladen Street Redevelopment and be removed from Historic District Review Board oversight.
Following its vote against including the two additional parcels in the Bladen Street District, the Beaufort-Town of Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission recommended the placement of boundaries on the Bladen Street Redevelopment District. This is a recommendation with which we strongly concur and we believe is critical.
Without defined boundaries, what is to stop the expansion of the Bladen Street Redevelopment District throughout the Historic District and the elimination of a separate review process (the HDRB) based on the Historic District Guidelines (Milner Associates’ Beaufort Preservation Manual and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation)? The answer is simple. Nothing. The Bladen Street Redevelopment District is slowly creeping into the National Historic Landmark District and potentially eroding the historic fabric that many generations have so carefully worked to protect.
As the Bladen Street District ordinance currently reads, to include the two proposed parcels in the Redevelopment District essentially removes them from protections afforded by the Historic District guidelines. By removing these two properties from the purview of the HDRB, the character and quality of Beaufort and our National Historic Landmark District, and possibly the City’s CLG status, is jeopardized.
We believe conflicting standards for infill development set a dangerous precedent for other properties in the Historic District. If a project is appropriate for the Historic District, it will be approved by the HDRB. A change in zoning is not necessary in order to rehabilitate a structure or redevelop a site. There has been no indication that projects have been proposed for these two particular parcels. Given that fact and that appropriate projects do get approved, we wonder why the proposed zone change is necessary?
While we do strongly support appropriate infill, Historic Beaufort Foundation opposes the proposed zoning change. We adamantly believe that any changes needed to move the Bladen Street streetscape forward can be proposed through the Historic District Design Review Board making the rezoning redundant.
Please seriously consider the ramifications of removing these two parcels from the Historic District and the far-reaching implications such a decision could have on the integrity of Beaufort’s Historic District.