August 23, 2017
Proposed Land Trade – A message from Town Council
As a property owner, you have received communications from the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) and the Kiawah Island Conservancy seeking your support for a proposed trade of properties between those two entities and Kiawah Partners, the community’s major developer. As part of this transaction, several parcels of aesthetically and environmentally important undeveloped property on the island would be transferred to the Conservancy for permanent protection from future development.
Your Town Council is not a party to this proposal and would not normally take a position on transactions between private entities, but is making an exception in this instance. Because this proposed transaction affects land use on Kiawah and encourages the permanent conservation of critical natural habitat, we have chosen to communicate our view on a key element of the proposal.
The Town’s Comprehensive Plan encourages the preservation of natural habitat and responsible development of the island’s properties. Kiawah Partners owns and has a right to residential or commercial development on three parcels of land located between the Kiawah River bridge and the main gate. If this occurs, the community will lose valuable undeveloped natural habitat and will see the entrance to our community transformed into a far different visual experience. In addition, development of these parcels with multiple entrances on the Parkway would create serious traffic safety issues.
This proposed trade will ensure that two of the parcels at the entrance to Kiawah will not be developed. It will also provide an opportunity for the Conservancy, with the support of members of our community, to protect the third parcel of land as well. We believe that the preservation of these parcels is a worthy outcome.
All transactions involve trade-offs. In this instance, approximately one and one-half acres of developable beach front property will transfer back to Kiawah Partners ownership. Under the existing Development Agreement, this property is zoned as residential. The maximum density for this district is twelve (12) dwelling units per acre, and there shall be no more than seven (7) dwellings in any building. Kiawah Partners owns, and is currently developing adjacent acreage. We think we all agree that conserving undeveloped beach front property is also an important goal. But, given the trade-off presented by this proposal, we have concluded that the properties that would be permanently protected by this transaction offer our community the greater environmental and aesthetic opportunity.
You should, of course, read the proposal fully. There are additional provisions in this proposal that we have not addressed here because they do not involve a substantial change in the use of these properties and have minimal environmental or aesthetic impact.
We are sure that this proposal will receive a great deal of discussion within our community, as it should and different conclusions will be reached. However, opportunities to protect undeveloped land on Kiawah are diminishing.
If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the Town’s zoning or land use regulations as it relates to this proposal, please do not hesitate to contact our Town Administrator.
Craig Weaver, Mayor
Jack Koach, Diana Mezzanotte, Chris Widuch, John Wilson, Council Members