Rural County Readies Itself For Urban Transition

With a number of large housing developments underway, rural Jasper County, South Carolina, is anticipating a rapid urban transition. Local officials are looking to draft a growth plan to ensure that developers whims won't shape the region.

"Parts of Jasper County, the county lying inland from Beaufort, are expected to change from rural to urban during the next 20 years. Waves of development pressure are sweeping north from Savannah and westward from Hilton Head, amounting to at least six major residential projects and an estimated 60,000 new homes. That number topples over the county's present single-family home count at nearly 8,000, according to the 2000 U.S. Census."

"To prepare for the growth, officials from the county and the area's two municipalities, Ridgeland and Hardeeville, have banded together, putting an end to the bully tactics that developers sometimes use when planning projects. Officials said the alliance has allowed them to secure more impact fees from developers, helping to expand the services that new growth will demand."

"The attention prompted officials from both municipalities and the county to establish guidelines for future developments. They wanted to avoid the 'tug of war' between the levels of governments that can occur when deep-pocketed developers shop around for the best bargain. Such tactics usually result in minimal impact fees and dense development in areas that most planners say should have been preserved as rural."

"'Not working together, what you find yourself doing is competing for the worst project,' Jasper County administrator Andrew Fulghum said. 'You negotiate down to a horrible deal.'"

Full Story: Tiny towns brace for waves of development

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