PORT ROYAL, S.C. (AP) — A part owner of a private island in South Carolina accessible only by plane or boat has been given permission to build his own home on the island after Beaufort County last year denied a request to build an ecotourism resort.
Bay Point, near Hilton Head Island, was subdivided into lots for houses decades ago, and Timothy Prichard said he intends to build his own house, The Post and Courier reported. Pitcher is one of several partners who own the island.
“It’s always been my intention to build my home on the island and it’s why I purchased into the thing several years ago, with that intention,” Pitcher told the newspaper.
Opponents of the earlier ecotourism plan worry that the building won't end with just one house. Environmental officials have given permission for a septic tank on the lot, but opponents are asking the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to review that decision. The home also would still need a building permit before construction could start.
“It’s clear that it is one of many planned villas,” said Rikki Parker of the Coastal Conservation League. “There’s development on the horizon if that zoning decision is allowed to stand.”
Prichard and the other partners who own Bay Point were denied a permit by Beaufort County in 2020 to build a 50-unit resort after concerns were raised over the potential environmental impact and the difficulty of getting fire, police or other emergency services to the remote island.
Both Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and then Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham wrote letters asking a zoning board to deny the resort.
The developers appealed the county's decision to a state court, where it remains in mediation.
Prichard's application for the zoning for his private home appears to say fire and other emergency services “will be assumed and executed by the property owner alone."
And Prichard said there are other inhabited islands in South Carolina without road access, such as Daufuskie Island.
Even if the 2020 decision by Beaufort County stands, Prichard said it only blocks the public from staying on the island and private owners still can build and live there.
“There will be a private community on this island, by right, in the state of South Carolina,” he said.