Plans OK'd for proposed big-box shopping center in greater Bluffton

In this photo from August, barrels containing non-hazardous waste, sit outside a structure near the intersection of SC 46 and US 278 on Tuesday. The building is on land which is the site of a proposed development called Bluffton Gateway. JAY KARR — Staff photo |Buy PhotoPhoto by: JAY KARR — Staff photo

Plans for a new shopping center in greater Bluffton received preliminary approval Monday from a Beaufort County committee, but its members said more must be done to reduce stormwater runoff before construction can begin.

An Atlanta-based developer plans to build two or more big-box stores on nearly 66 acres at the corner of U.S. 278 and S.C. 46. Developer David Oliver declined to say what retailers might locate there.

The plans now head to County Council.

The proposed development agreement between the county and the site's developers, Jaz Development LLC, calls for the site to have impervious surfaces on no more than 20 percent of the property. Committee members said they want the developer to try to reduce that to 10 percent, the amount called for in county code.

Reducing impervious surfaces -- areas that water cannot penetrate -- helps prevent rainwater from running off the property and carrying pollutants into local waterways.

Councilman Brian Flewelling, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said Oliver needs to submit a drainage plan before the development is approved by the full council.

County stormwater manager Eric Larson said he'll look at the drainage plan to see if there are any impervious surfaces, such as asphalt and pavement, that could be eliminated.

Oliver also seeks state permission to clean five acres of contaminated soil on the site. Earlier this year, he signed a "non-responsible party" cleanup contract with the state to remove the chemicals left from a print shop that closed in the late 1980s.

The cleanup would remove the contaminated soil, a chemical storage tank and a septic system believed to be a contributor to polluted groundwater.

Oliver said Monday he sent a cleanup plan to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The plan would cost about $500,000, Oliver estimated.

Beaufort County would match the cost of the cleanup with a tax credit after DHEC deems the area free of contaminants, according to county attorney Josh Gruber.

Beaufort County is scheduled to give the development agreement a second reading March 24, with a final vote April 14.