The town of Bluffton is considering changes to development rules that would result in bringing the rapidly growing town more affordable housing. A draft of changes to the Unifie Development Ordinance was recently released. The change would encourage developers to build more affordable houses in a responsible way. In exchange for building new housing developments with the same materials used in “market-rate” units, builders would be allowed to place homes on smaller lots than currently allowed of “market-rate” homes. Changes to the UDO will be discussed further by Town Council during a workshop in January.

nonsmokingIn 2007, Beaufort County forced smokers to take it outside. Now, the town of Bluffton is just one step away from passing a smoking ban near the playground equipment at Dubois Park. Town Council gave preliminary approval for the ban in October. The code change is pending a final vote this month. If passed, smoking will be banned within a 50-foot radius of the playground equipment designed for children. Smoking bans on other current and future Bluffton parks will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

As one of the nation's fastest-growing towns, Bluffton is facing many challenges, from traffic congestion and a developing infrastructure to industry diversification and meeting the needs of a young community. How the town will address these challenges is up to the winners of the upcoming mayoral and Town Council races. 

The town of Bluffton is developing a plan to get rid of dilapidated and unsafe buildings within its city limits. The Affordable Housing Committee recently approved a tiered program to provide money to owners of property that city officials deem unsafe. Owners who report less than 80 percent of the town's median household income of $65,486 can apply for payment.

blufftonteensCould the Lowcountry be home to another “American Idol”? Three seasons after St. Helena Island native Candice Glover won the 12th season of the popular reality singing competition, two Bluffton teenagers have advanced to the celebrity judge round of the 15th and final season of the show.

affordablehousingThe Bluffton House, an affordable apartment community located at 20 Simmonsville Road, is upgrading to two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments. Vacant apartments that were once home to low-income families who paid discounted monthly rent are being completely remodeled with new appliances, granite-like countertops, wood-style flooring and ceiling fans in every bedroom.

blufftonculturalA group of Bluffton artists has formed the Bluffton Creative Initiative. The group would like for all of Old Town Bluffton and a few surrounding neighborhoods to be designated a cultural district by the South Carolina Arts Commission. The group feels the designation will attract artists and creative entrepreneurs, encourage economic and cultural development, attract more tourists, preserve historic buildings and create a supportive environment for arts and culture.

mosscreaktenniscenterThe Moss Creek Tennis Center was the only tennis center in South Carolina to be honored by the United States Tennis Association in its annual Facility Awards Program. Each year, the USTA recognizes facilities throughout the country for meeting increasingly high standards in construction and renovation.

bollardsbluftonThe town of Bluffton recently installed retractable bollards to divert traffic on Calhoun Street during Old Town events. The bollards are located at the corners of Lawton and Lawrence streets to block vehicles during festivals and provide for a more pedestrian-friendly, walkable environment.

The town of Bluffton recently installed retractable bollards to divert traffic on Calhoun Street during Old Town events. The bollards are located at the corners of Lawton and Lawrence streets to block vehicles during festivals and provide for a more pedestrian-friendly, walkable environment.

When Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Moss was asked to name the most exciting achievement in the district this past year, he hesitated — for all the right reasons.

“There are so many individual accomplishments at each of our schools,” said Moss of the successful 2013-14 school year for southern Beaufort County’s public schools. “I could spend all day talking about success stories at each one.”

A 98,500-square-foot shopping center featuring luxury shops and a grocery store has been proposed to replace the Grayco Building Center at the corner of Fording Island Road and Trimblestone Road in Bluffton. Grayco plans to relocate its business to Simmonsville Road, making way for the proposed development.

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program recently installed 10 bronze crab statues along the Calhoun Street corridor in Old Town Bluffton. The project is meant to capture the imagination and inspire awareness of children and adults, as well as educate them on local marine life and the importance of preserving the May River. The 8-inch statues are attached to signs, poles and plaques along the historic street in hide-and-seek fashion. Each year, the leadership class develops a project to benefit the community.

The Beaufort County Library system's board of trustees recently voted to keep its Hilton Head Island and Bluffton branches open 50 hours a week. In the spring, the library announced a lack of funding would result in hours being cut to 40 hours a week. Newly hired library director Ray McBride asked the board to postpone its vote so he could take a closer look at the budget.

Hilton Head Tanger Outlet Centers recently added eight electric vehicle charging stations to its two Bluffton locations. At Tanger 1, four EV stations are located in front of the Polo store. At Tanger 2, four EV stations have been placed near the Gap outlet store. All eight units run on the ChargePoint network, which is the nation’s largest and most open EV charging network. To use the stations, drivers need to sign up for a free ChargePoint membership and can initiate a charging session with their ChargePoint card, the ChargePoint mobile app or calling the phone number on the station.

It’s a little-known fact that Hilton Head Island is home to two of the three locked harbors on the East Coast of the United States.

Most visitors to the island have heard of a lock or canal system, like the Panama Canal, but aren’t sure how the systems work or what they are.

A lock system is a combination of gates and a chamber that allows a vessel to go from one water system at one level to another system a different level.