Folly Beach seeks to prevent downtown from being overdeveloped

ByShannon J. Cortes

May 3, 2022

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) — The Folly Beach Planning Commission is sending zoning suggestions to city council for approval, all in an effort to keep the town center from being overdeveloped.

On Monday evening, the commission held a public hearing for ten zoning articles.

They took the first steps to establish the “central street overlay area.” The area will include over 50 parcels of land on and around Center Street. If approved by council, the overlap zone would mean that new businesses looking to build on Center Street will have to meet specific regulations.

These regulations include construction at grade and flood proof instead of elevated, buildings are limited to two stories including a deck, and buildings cannot be for multi-family use or self-contained residential use.

City officials say these requirements will help regulate future development and protect the thriving heart of downtown Folly Beach. Center Street Overlay restrictions do not apply to existing properties. They only apply to new construction on the plots included.

The commission also talked about adjusting its downtown shopping district rules. The ordinance would have changed the distance from the street where buildings can be erected from zero feet to ten feet.

Residents affected are primarily from the blocks surrounding Center Street. A number of them showed up at the public hearing to oppose the distance ordinance, saying it makes their property useless to them since they cannot build the homes they want.

The commission voted to table the discussion due to community response.

The commission voted to send amendments to the Island’s Commercial District bylaws to the city council. These changes would limit buildings to three stories where ground parking and a roof terrace would each be considered one story. The distance between buildings from the street can start now must be ten feet.

According to the City of Folly Beach, these are all decisions that will protect the beauty and walkability of the downtown area. Some residents still feel they are being too restrictive on property owners and will return to planning meetings to talk about downtown business restrictions going forward.

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