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Wedding & Event Venue Near Beaufort, SC.

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Your Magic Moment Awaits

Your wedding day. Without a doubt, it's one of the most significant events you will ever experience - when you and the love of your life officially seal the deal and get married. On this day, your friends and family will gather to celebrate the next step in your life. Photographers will be running around snapping photos, catering plates delicious food for guests to enjoy, and the DJ sets the mood for a night of fun and libation. You've worked extra hard to make everything look perfect and run smoothly. You have examined every moving part down to the tiniest detail. At the center of all your effort is your wedding venue in Beaufort, SC.

Your event space can mean the difference between an unforgettable event and an average occasion. Capturing your uniqueness as a couple is paramount to a memorable wedding. But, without the right venue location and staff, your unforgettable event can turn into a painfully average occasion. Fortunately, at Abney Hall, you won't ever have to worry about dingy reception spaces and crummy chow halls.

Constructed in Beaufort, SC, in 1962, Abney Hall is 15,000 square feet and sits on 500 acres of land, making it a large wedding venue unlike any other. Abney Hall was originally the home of Mrs. Josephine Abney, a Beaufort native who was a lifelong philanthropist. Mrs. Abney devoted much of her time and effort towards supporting charities, educational institutions, hospitals, and other noble efforts. Today, Abney Hall stands tall as a symbol of love, both in our community and for the couples who choose to get married here.

Abney Hall is an exclusive event experience unlike any other, surrounded by verdant forests and sparkling ponds. Our venue is a natural fit for several occasions, including:

Special Event Space Beaufort, SC

Weddings

 Event Venue Beaufort, SC

Bridal Showers

 Event Space Beaufort, SC

Bridal Portraits

 Rehearsal Dinner Venue Beaufort, SC

Rehearsal Dinners

 Bridal Shower Venue Beaufort, SC

Corporate Events

 Business Event Space Beaufort, SC

Much More!

 Wedding Space Beaufort, SC

The Top Wedding Venue in Beaufort, SC

The beginning of your life starts at Abney Hall. With our team by your side, we can create the fairy tale wedding you have dreamed about since childhood. Whether you have 100 guests or 1,000, our waterfront ceremony locations and French-inspired courtyard are perfect for your big day. Celebrate in luxurious style surrounded by shady magnolia trees, a private forest, large ponds, and the beauty of Mother Nature. While our venue location and aesthetic have been praised far and wide, so too have the practical aspects of Abney Hall. Looking for a relaxing, comfortable spot for your bridal party to get ready in? We offer an entire floor in the Abney Hall residence to get the bridal party ready. Want to make your groomsman feel extra-special too? We've got a private, plush house just feet from a sparkling pond that is a proper hangout spot for the guys in your group.

To make life easier on you, we also offer Abney Hall as your go-to spot for rehearsal dinners. Why book an expensive restaurant or travel to another location when unmatched beauty and convenience are right at your fingertips? Abney Hall is just the place for that very important dinner the night before your big day. We are also happy to host your bridal shower at Abney Hall. Our venue makes for one of Beaufort's most unique bridal shower settings, where your family and friends can gather to give gifts and be merry before you walk down the aisle.

With such a large, magnificent house and a vast property, Abney Hall also makes for an unforgettable location for your bridal portraits and other wedding-related photography needs. Don't take our word for it - book a tour and see for yourself why so many new brides and grooms choose Abney Hall as their wedding venue in Beaufort.

 Wedding Venue Beaufort, SC

What Sets Abney Hall Apart from Other Wedding Venues in Beaufort?

You've already found the person you want to spend the rest of your life beside. The next step? Finding the perfect wedding venue for your ceremony, reception, and celebration of your lifelong commitment to one another. Remember, the backdrop for photos, dancing, eating, and all other activities will be at your wedding venue. That's why we work so hard to set Abney Hall apart from our competitors - so you and your guests can focus on love and living your new life while we work with your vendors and photographers to make your magic night a reality.

Here are just a few reasons why guests choose Abney Hall as their wedding venue in Beaufort, SC, along with some helpful tips from our experienced wedding venue staff:

Venue Size

Choosing the appropriate-sied venue for your desired guest count is a critical decision. A venue's capacity affects the number of people you need to consider having at your ceremony and reception. As you're first starting out, we recommend having a guest count in mind as you're searching for the right venue. Try to stick with that number. You may fall in love with a particular venue, but if its max capacity can't accommodate your guest count, it may be time to cross them off your list.

 Corporate Conference Hall Beaufort, SC
Abney Hall Pro Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

Keep in mind that this is your big day. You shouldn't feel obligated to invite the college roommate you shared a dorm with for one semester. At the end of the day, your wedding venue should be one that can accommodate those closest to you. Abney Hall is equipped for both small and large weddings, consisting of 500 acres of forest, ponds, and lush natural beauty. Whether you want an intimate wedding with only your best friends or a grand ceremony with hundreds of people, we have the right amount of room to make you comfortable.

Location and Nearby Lodging

On your big day, you're likely to have friends and family traveling in from other parts of the state or country. These folks will need a place to stay during and even after your wedding. Accessibility and ease are important factors when it comes to choosing your wedding venue for both you and your guests.

Located in Beaufort, SC, Abney Hall is situated in a memorable, natural setting, giving your wedding a private vibe in the midst of Mother Nature. While we pride ourselves on having a secluded wedding event space, our venue is within an easy driving distance of hotels and vacation rentals.

Abney Hall Pro Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

When you contact us for a tour, make sure to speak with our experienced venue manager about nearby hotels and shuttle service options. We understand that your guest's comfort and convenience are important, and we're happy to work with you to figure out the best way to get your guests to Abney Hall.

Venue Staff

At Abney Hall, our staff has earned its reputation as one of the industry's most friendly, accessible teams. We will provide you with a purpose-minded point of contact that can help answer questions relating to timelines, preferred vendors, and every aspect of your wedding. When you tour our wedding venue in Beaufort, SC, for the first time, we want you to feel like you have all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision.

We would be happy to go over:
  • Venue Pricing
  • Ceremony Specifics
  • Reception Specifics
  • Catering Possibilities
  • Decorating Possibilities
  • Entertainment Options
  • Photography and Photo Opportunities
  • Venue Amenities
  • Bridal Party Needs
  • Groomsman Needs

At Abney Hall, our goal is to be your first resource when it comes to setting up and coordinating the details of your wedding day.

Decor

When it comes to your wedding's decor, you probably already have a few ideas in mind. We love it when our brides and grooms have a vision in mind because one of our greatest joys is turning that vision into a reality. At Abney Hall, our team is available to help you and your decorator fit, accent, and accommodate your fairy-tale wedding - whatever that may be.

Are you looking to dress up your wedding with decorations galore? Just want to add a few accents that tie into your preferred color palette? Abney Hall is versatile and ready to help however we are able.

 Reception Hall Beaufort, SC
Abney-Hall-Pro-Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip:

If you're thinking about bringing in your own greenery, lighting, floral pieces, and more, we recommend discussing your vision with us on your initial tour of our event space. That way, we can get a head start on making your big day exactly how you envision it.

Photo Opportunities

10 years from now, when you and your spouse are celebrating your anniversary, you will pull out photographs from your wedding and will reminisce about the unforgettable time you spent at Abney Hall. Your wedding photos will be with you forever, and as such, we work closely with you and your photographer to suggest extra-special photo op spots that you can only find on Abney Hall grounds.

From the grand staircase and French-inspired courtyard to our manicured gardens and lovely pond, there is no shortage of photo-op locations for your photographer to choose from. As one of the most popular wedding venues in Beaufort, SC, we have worked with dozens of photographers over the years.

Our experience has allowed us to cultivate a list of preferred photographers - all of whom have the talent to take your pictures to the next level in a setting they're familiar with. We encourage you to check out our gallery to get a sense of the scope of our wedding venue and gain inspiration from other happy couples.

Abney-Hall-Pro-Tip

Abney Hall Pro Tip

The gallery on our website is extensive but be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram pages as well. We keep our social pages updated with recent wedding photographs, giving you an incredible resource that you can use for your own photography purposes.

Special Event Space Beaufort, SC

The Premier Corporate Event Venue in Beaufort, SC

Abney Hall is known across the United States for our stunning weddings, but we also play host to some of the largest corporate events in South Carolina. Why choose a bland, lifeless meeting space when you can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature coupled with a professional atmosphere? If you have an important team-building event or corporate conference that you have to coordinate, look no further than Abney Hall.

The epitome of class and style, our corporate event space is large, lavish, and chock-full of onsite amenities for you and your co-workers to enjoy. If your team needs a morale boost, don't bring them to the local Olive Garden for a cheap lunch. Treat them to a refreshing experience in our main dining room, where we can work with you to incorporate your catering options with the goals of your event.

When the hard work is done, and your team needs a breather, what better way to relax than with a quick dip in our pool? To burn off a little steam, head over to our brand-new tennis court - the perfect place to get some exercise in an ultra-private setting while you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Don't forget to bring your fishing poles for a couple of hours of fishing. There's even an opportunity to go hunting if you wish.

 Event Venue Beaufort, SC

Elegance at Its Finest - Only
a Phone Call Away

If you're ready to learn more about Abney Hall as your wedding venue, don't hesitate to reach out. We would love to hear more about your plans, your vision, and your needs. We know that planning a wedding isn't easy. It takes time, attention to detail, and a whole lot of patience. Our goal is to help provide you with all the info you need to learn more about our venue. Once you decide on a date, we'll work closely with you and your vendors to craft a wedding experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Our available dates for your big day are going quick, especially during peak seasons like spring and fall. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation
 Event Space Beaufort, SC

Latest News in Beaufort, SC

You can weigh in on Beaufort Co. teachers’ salaries at 2 upcoming community meetings

The Beaufort County School Board is holding two community meetings this week to discuss the 2022-23 school year budget and it wants the community’s input.The meetings, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday starting at 6 p.m., are being held to promote transparency, according to school board Chairman David Striebinger.The first meeting Wednesday will be held in the cafeteria of Bluffton High School. On Thursday, the board will meet with community...

The Beaufort County School Board is holding two community meetings this week to discuss the 2022-23 school year budget and it wants the community’s input.

The meetings, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday starting at 6 p.m., are being held to promote transparency, according to school board Chairman David Striebinger.

The first meeting Wednesday will be held in the cafeteria of Bluffton High School. On Thursday, the board will meet with community members at Beaufort High School.

The meetings will consist of a presentation on the budget, after which community members may break off into small groups to discuss the budget before handing off their feedback to the board.

“We hope community taxpayers, parents, and our educators will attend one of our budget forums so they can learn about next year’s budget and provide feedback to the board,” Striebinger said in a press release.

Topics that will be discussed include “instruction, administration, operations, and salaries,” according to the press release. At its regularly scheduled school board meeting last week, the board heard from educators in the community telling them that the cost of living in Beaufort County is too high and teachers need more money in order to afford to live where they teach.

A teacher at Robert Smalls International Academy who spoke out during a recent school board meeting said he and his wife have been living in the area for about a year and cannot find a house they can afford.

“Luckily, we are not in one of the apartments that raised their rent by 30%,” the teacher said. “When you can’t afford to live in a place, how am I able to invest in a community? ... I feel like a transplant that is waiting to be moved somewhere else.”

The board voted May 4 to give employees a $2,000 bonus that will be distributed in December. Full-time employees who remain working within the district by Nov. 15, 2022, will be eligible for the retention bonus. New full-time employees who remain working by that date will receive a $2,000 recruitment bonus. The one-time bonuses come from the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund and will total approximately $6 million.

Those who cannot attend the community meetings can give their input via BCSD Connected, an online platform where the community can leave feedback, suggestions and participate in surveys and polls.

The board aims to certify its budget for the upcoming school year by its next meeting May 17, officials said in the press release. The final reading of the budget will take place June 27.

This story was originally published May 10, 2022 10:16 AM.

‘They deserve this’: Beaufort Co. teachers to get raise, bonus in June, school officials say

This story will be updated. Beaufort County public teachers will receive a 3% cost-of-living raise in June that’s retroactive to the beginning of the school year following the school board’s approval of the increase in March, according to a press release from the district.“This pay increase comes at a crucial time for our employees,” Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said. “Our educators and staff worked extremely hard during the pandemic to keep learning moving forward, and they deserve this.&...

This story will be updated.

Beaufort County public teachers will receive a 3% cost-of-living raise in June that’s retroactive to the beginning of the school year following the school board’s approval of the increase in March, according to a press release from the district.

“This pay increase comes at a crucial time for our employees,” Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said. “Our educators and staff worked extremely hard during the pandemic to keep learning moving forward, and they deserve this.”

The funds were approved by the board during a work session March 25, according to school spokesperson Candace Bruder. The announcement was not made until Tuesday because the district was working on the “logistics” so that they could “provide people with complete and accurate information from the onset,” Bruder said.

The money for the salary increase comes from the district’s 2022 General Fund operating budget and will cost $5.5 million. Teachers will receive the salary increase on June 10, the press release said.

Assuming a teacher is paid $54,360 as an annual salary, Bruder said, “the average teacher will get a retroactive payment of $1,630 before deductions.” This salary is based on a teacher with 10 years of experience and a master’s degree, she said.

Figures for teachers who are lower on the salary scale with less experience were not immediately available.

A call-out for job candidates on Indeed, an online job-posting platform, welcoming candidates to apply for a high school teaching position within the Beaufort County district advertised an annual salary ranging from $37,100 to $46,900. A fourth-grade teaching position at the district is advertised as having an annual salary anywhere from $37,200 to $47,200. Based on those figures, a teacher making $37,100 a year could receive $1,113 before deductions.

In addition to the salary increase, teachers who had to teach lessons online and in-person for the 2021-22 school year due to the pandemic will receive a bonus. In December 2021, teachers were paid $1,000 to prepare for virtual and in-person instruction after a state legislature bill stipulated schools must pay educators extra for the dual-modality classes.

Those who had students in quarantine who delivered virtual teaching will receive additional compensation ranging from $250 to $550, depending on how long they taught both online and in-person, the press release said. The bonuses will be taken from the school’s Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) federal funds totaling up to $2 million of the $82.1 million received from the government for COVID-19 relief.

The bonuses were approved in September the same week an outbreak of the virus forced at least one Beaufort County school to go completely online, according to previous reporting by the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.

Meanwhile, at a scheduled board meeting Tuesday night, the contracts of at least five of the district’s 1,700 teachers were not renewed for the 2022-23 school year. This comes as schools across the country struggle with a national teacher shortage following the pandemic. Bruder declined to speak about the specifics surrounding the contracts, saying it is a “personnel matter.”

According to data from a survey conducted by the National Education Association in January 2022, at least 55% of educators plan on leaving the profession “sooner than planned” because of stress, burnout and other pandemic-related issues. Of those surveyed, 86% said they saw more colleagues leaving in droves or retiring early because of the pandemic.

Currently, there are 44 positions open in the elementary schools, 41 in middle schools and 38 high school openings within the Beaufort County School District, according to Frontline, a recruiting and hiring platform used by the district.

This story was originally published April 20, 2022 1:27 PM.

How hot is the real estate market in Beaufort County? Home prices rise to $480K

The median sales price for a single-family home in Beaufort County during February was $480,000. That's an increase of 15.5% compared with February 2021, according to a USA TODAY Network localized analysis generated with data from Realtor.com.On a year-over-year basis, prices have been rising for 21 consecutive months. February prices are down from $490,000 the previous month.The number of houses sold fell by ...

The median sales price for a single-family home in Beaufort County during February was $480,000. That's an increase of 15.5% compared with February 2021, according to a USA TODAY Network localized analysis generated with data from Realtor.com.

On a year-over-year basis, prices have been rising for 21 consecutive months. February prices are down from $490,000 the previous month.

The number of houses sold fell by 21.8% from a year earlier. A total of 287 houses were sold countywide during the month of February. During the same period a year earlier, 367 single-family homes were sold.

Real estate sales can take weeks or months to be recorded and collected. This is the latest data made available through Realtor.com to the USA TODAY Network.

Beaufort County condominiums and townhomes sold in February had a median sales price of $310,000. That figure represents a 25.5% increase year over year. Some 140 were sold, down 11.9% from a year earlier.

How hot is Beaufort County's real estate market?

Information on local housing markets is available through the USA TODAY Network, with more data from Realtor.com.

In Beaufort County, the top 10% of the properties sold had prices of at least $1,200,000, up 34.8% from a year before.

In February, 50 properties sold for at least $1 million, consisting of 44 single-family homes, four condominiums or townhomes and two other properties.

The median home sale price — the midway point of all the houses or units sold over a period of time — is used in this report instead of the average home sale price because experts say the median offers a more accurate view of what's happening in a market. In finding the average price, all prices of homes sold are added and then divided by the number of homes sold. This measure can be skewed by one low or high price.

The USA TODAY Network is publishing localized versions of this story on its news sites across the country, generated with data from Realtor.com. Localized versions are generated for communities where the data quality and transaction volume meets Realtor.com and USA TODAY Network standards. The story was written by Sean Lahman.

Officials reach quick agreement concerning the future of Sands boat ramp in Port Royal

The Town of Port Royal, Safe Harbor Marinas and Beaufort County have reached a deal that will keep the popular Sands Beach boat ramp open and maintained, Port Royal Mayor Joe DeVito said Monday.Under an agreement, Safe Harbor Marinas will deed the floating boat dock to the Town, DeVito said. Then the County and Town will sign an agreement saying the County will maintain the landing. The Town, meanwhile, will continue to maintain the parking lot, which it already owns.Officials with the Town, County and Safe Harbor Marinas met t...

The Town of Port Royal, Safe Harbor Marinas and Beaufort County have reached a deal that will keep the popular Sands Beach boat ramp open and maintained, Port Royal Mayor Joe DeVito said Monday.

Under an agreement, Safe Harbor Marinas will deed the floating boat dock to the Town, DeVito said. Then the County and Town will sign an agreement saying the County will maintain the landing. The Town, meanwhile, will continue to maintain the parking lot, which it already owns.

Officials with the Town, County and Safe Harbor Marinas met to discuss ownership and maintenance issues that had arisen recently, prompting concerns the popular landing could close just as the busy summer season begins and Port Royal begins repaving the parking lot abutting it.

“It was extremely productive, “ DeVito said of the meeting, adding a solid plan is now in place to keep it open and to maintain it.

Last year, the Beaufort County Public Works Department and Legal Department conducted an ownership and title research on several of the boat landings it maintains including The Sands. Based on that research, it was determined that The Sands is owned by Safe Harbor Marinas.

Then on April 26, the County, which currently maintains the boat ramp, notified the Town it was transferring maintenance responsibilities to Safe Harbor July 1.

County officials said they were concerned about spending money maintaining property the County did not own. The Town of Port Royal was worried about ensuring the landing remains open to the public, especially since the transfer would occur just before July 4.

Monday’s deal averting a closure or future maintenance issues will keep the boat landing open for summer season and beyond, DeVito said, and county plans to begin planning for immediate repairs needed on a portion of the floating dock.

“We all had to the same goal in mind to keep that boat landing open,” DeVito said. “We now feel there’s no longer a deadline looming over us. Now it’s just a matter of paperwork.”

The County had maintained the boat landing for decades but could not find any ownership records. It’s reviewing all of its boat landings and public accesses as it develops a master plan for those sites.

Beaufort County spokesperson Chris Ophardt thanked Port Royal and Safe Harbor for their support in clearing up the owner status and necessary legal requirements to keep the boat landing open to the public.

“Over the next few weeks,” Ophardt said, “we look forward to putting the verbal agreement on paper and including the landing in our boat landing master plan.”

Port Royal has authorized $80,000 for repairs, resurfacing and restriping of the parking lot. That work began Monday and will continued through Friday.

This story was originally published May 9, 2022 5:19 PM.

‘Can we survive?’ Lowcountry population boom stirs concern. Beaufort gets expert help

Beaufort faces a daunting future due to a growing population and associated problems like increasing housing costs and traffic congestion, in addition to rising seas that could inundate parts of the city, said Victor Dover, a nationally recognized leader in city planning.Beaufort leaders are holding a two-day retreat this week at St. Helena Island Library to talk about the future development challenges facing the city and how it might best prepare through strategic planning and development codes. Dover, of Miami-based ...

Beaufort faces a daunting future due to a growing population and associated problems like increasing housing costs and traffic congestion, in addition to rising seas that could inundate parts of the city, said Victor Dover, a nationally recognized leader in city planning.

Beaufort leaders are holding a two-day retreat this week at St. Helena Island Library to talk about the future development challenges facing the city and how it might best prepare through strategic planning and development codes. Dover, of Miami-based Dover, Kohl & Partners, will assist them.

The city, he said, could head for the bunker and try to stop the dramatic population growth, but he said that won’t work. Instead, he’s advising its leaders and residents to view the growth as a “wave of prosperity,” seizing the moment to plan for the kind of community they really want.

And residents, Dover noted, will not get the city they want from the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

“They get it from drawing lines on a map and showing it to their neighbors and their fellow leaders and saying, ‘How about like this?” Dover said. “Actually deciding what they want the future to be like.”

Beaufort’s growth isn’t new. It’s been fueled in part by positive notice in national publications like Southern Living and Architectural Digest. But between 2010 and 2020, Beaufort County’s population grew by more than 15%, making relentless extension of development a real threat to the Lowcountry including Beaufort, he added.

As opposed to national coverage of the city, local headlines and stories about development, Dover said, reflect “kind of a fear factor.”

“Can we handle it? Can we direct it? Can we survive it?”

Mayor Stephen Murray said the city is seeing real impacts. Housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable. There are not enough jobs that pay a living wage. Rural areas are being clear-cut to make way for the next suburban development.

Murray called Beaufort “one of the most special places on the planet” because of its quality of life, natural resources and historic structures.

At the same time, “I also think we’re right to be nervous about the future,” he said.

Dover is assisting the city in “place-making” during the retreat, which began Wednesday and concludes Thursday. The focus is polishing the Beaufort Code, which guides development, and strategic planning. The meetings will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.

“The future will be different for sure,” Murray said, “but working together it’s possible our region is even more remarkable than it is today.”

During a talk Tuesday evening at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, sponsored by the Coastal Conservation League, and USCB Center for the Arts and the city, Dover spoke about the increasing development pressures facing the Lowcountry.

“First of all,” he said, when asked how residents should view the city’s development rules and development as it prepares for the continued growth, “calm down.”

Issues involving city code and land development are emotional and residents can get as mad as a hornet but consider that residents come from different points of view, he said. One person, for example, might be defending a neighborhood, he said, while another may be concerned about private property rights.

Dover advised working as a team and loving each other in the process. Yes, loving each other. “I’m not kidding,” he said. “That’s really the answer.”

Ensuring that the city’s planning decisions and vision are implemented requires “eternal vigilance,” Dover said, adding that residents will get the town they deserve but only if they stick up for it.

Effective planning in the future also will require that the city’s elected officials to stick to the code, and that members of the planning staff accurately interpret the rules, Dover added.

Developers, he said, can be friends as opposed to foes but they need to get the message quickly that the city won’t back down from its standards. Some may threaten to walk away.

“Then say, ‘Walk,’ because if the local government blinks every time a developer says boo, you’re never going to get the quality you want,” Dover said.

But he encouraged the city to be business friendly, too, selling its approach to getting quality development.

“Be proud of it,” Dover said. “This is Beaufort, we built Newpoint and Habersham.”

The Newpoint development on Lady’s Island is a traditional residential neighborhood with front porches and walking paths and lots of trees that foster a community and a sense of place. It was developed in the 1990s by Vince Graham and Bob Turner.

The Habersham community, just west of Beaufort, another mixed-use development with a range of housing styles, has been ranked one of the best coastal communities in the country. It boasts several restaurants.

“The solutions are staring you right in your face,” said Dover, referring to the ideas implemented in those developments.

And Dover noted the city’s civic master plan, one of the city’s most important documents, already encourages mixed-use urban neighborhoods where people can get around by foot and bicycle if they want. “That’s your textbook.”

Habersham and Newpoint, he said, took the DNA of the historic homes and neighborhoods in Beaufort — such as porches, narrow lots facing the streets and interconnected streets — and “reused it.” Having more people, he adds, supports commerce.

“It’s not the density that determines whether a place is really appealing and feels like good human habitat,” Dover said. “It’s the design.”

Large lot development with the purported goal of minimizing impacts to the land just makes those impacts worse, Dover said, with each house sitting on a lot too large to mow and not large enough to plow.

“Don’t do this,” said Dover, pointing to a design showing three-acre lot after three-acre lot that he called a kind of “social zoning” accessible only to those with means.

Beaufort must also consider sea level rise in its planning, the planner said.

Inundation maps have good and bad news for Beaufort. Besides serious storms, he said the number of days of flooding will increase. Some very historic places in the city are vulnerable and protecting them will require intervention.

“It has to be part of how you plan here,” Dover said. “And I know that’s a matter of constant concern among your leaders.”

As for transportation, Dover said “speed kills.” The slower the speed of the moving vehicles, the more people will survive. Moreover, he added, people just tend to avoid crosswalks on busy roads with high speed limits, but he noted that neighborhoods and public squares can be designed in ways where traffic and pedestrians safely coexist.

Dover previously authored the town of Port Royal revitalization plan and Beaufort’s Boundary Street plan. He co-authored the book, “Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns.”

Going forward, one of the Beaufort’s biggest challenges is that rents are rising faster than incomes, he said. That’s a problem, especially for those who are working hard to make the Lowcountry a nice place such as those who work in the service industry.

“To simply say you should just live somewhere else where it’s cheaper is not the answer,” he said.

For the most part, the housing industry has stopped producing units for the “missing middle,” Dover said. The city should work to reawaken it, he said, by making the rule book more friendly to small developers instead of recruiting larger builders.

Beaufort’s preparations for population increases don’t just have local consequences.

In his work around the country assisting communities in their planning efforts, Dover notes, he shows pictures of Beaufort’s neighborhoods and streets — and Port Royal and Charleston. The photographs help leaders visualize landscape changes before land is converted.

“If you wonder why I think it’s so important that you get it right in the Lowcountry,” Dover said, “it’s because the whole world is watching how you deal with these interrelated challenges.”

The Beaufort City Council is conducting a retreat from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at St. Helena Public Library, 6355 Jonathan Francis Senior Road, St. Helena.

The public is invited and the meeting will be livestreamed on the City’s Facebook page. The agenda includes discussion of strategic and capital improvement plans and the Beaufort Development Code.

This story was originally published April 27, 2022 11:55 AM.

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