In the beginning there was Sun City Hilton Head (located nowhere near Hilton Head Island). Sun City made of a lot of people very angry and was largely considered a bad idea. And in the later parts of the 1900’s Beaufort County had a lot of ideas – most of them bad. (sans the comp plan that the Town of Bluffton decimated, but that’s a story for another day).
And in that moment, where the Town of Bluffton made its revenue by way of an illegal speed-trap and kickbacks thereof from said “speeding tickets that never happened”, we devised a plan – a plan of men … and mice … and manifest destiny. Bluffton’s brain-trust called to action a new committee – the Development Agreement Negotiating Committee or DANC for short. This great new committee entrusted within itself the ability to negotiate agreements with developers as it tried to control the destiny of greater Bluffton. With these new magical powers and the spin-doctoring marketing-genius of folks who made pottery and punch cards they negotiated – and won a few, but mostly lost. The odds were not in their favor.
Bluffton’s best came to meetings with developers with reams of paper and plans – and models even. Developers sent guys who showed up with a pen – as the guys needed to entertain themselves twirling said pen (#TrueStory) as they pushed over the bumpkins not paying for things like roads and schools.
(*sidenote – paying for schools was the responsibility of the county so it didn’t seem to bother Bluffton folks too much that we didn’t plan well for the schools we would need, and Beaufort County repaid the favor by building developments in the intended pathways of major thoroughfares – so we are still working thru those issues. (someday we’ll tell you the story of the crooked parkway – but we digress)
Back then South Carolina was on the very wrong end of many lists – income, maternal health, diabetes, education and so on – and since then we have moved up most of those lists at least a spot or 3. Hey, it’s South Carolina – Thank God for Mississippi.
Bluffton’s prospects were extremely bright – we just didn’t kinda get it as we set out to make … jobs – and to make sure the efffed up county didn’t efff things up before we could eff things up.
We swore we did it to save the May River – so that was one of the first things to go to fecal coli form.
And as we went we annexed everything we could, and it looked for a minute like our manifest destiny might take us all the way to the Broad River … but, alas, May River Pollution turned public opinion against us – so we got stopped. Nothing like a good annexation – oh well.
We knew full well that commercial was profitable (Annex the Kroegar, Annex the Kroegar – that’s magic), rich neighborhoods weren’t too bad (let’s point the crooked parkway right at Hampton Hall) and crap-box cookie-cutter neighborhoods on 1/4 acre lots lost money – so we built lots of those. But, nice people live there – so all good. Welcome to Bluffton my good neghibors.
Today, Bluffton is all that it can be as we make ready to become like Nassau County Long Island – Home of lots of little overpriced house, some nice homes, beautiful nature kinda-destroyed and the impending all-encompassing crippling fear that sometime today I may have to take a left turn where there is no streetlight.
It could be worse.