Beaufort County and City at odds over who’s to pay for traffic study

As traffic on Lady’s Island grows, so do complaints from neighbors on the inconvenience and potential safety hazards in navigating the back-ups. Major retailers Walmart and Harris Teeter are building off of narrow Highway 21 just down from the new Publix. Some worry added vehicles and congestion could even cause first response delays to emergencies. The City of Beaufort is heading-up a traffic impact study, but is at an impasse with Beaufort County on how to fund the study.

Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop appealed to the County for help in a finance committee on Monday night, but the discussion was ultimately tabled. Finance Committee Chairman Jerry Stewart tells NEWS 3 he hopes for more research, and believes the City should pay for some, if not all, of the study’s cost. The City annexed the property the developers are building on, drawing it into City jurisdiction. Stewart believes this should make the City responsible.

However, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling believes the County should help fund the study, because he says the developers pay impact fees to the County.

“So, whether it was in the county or not, the retailers didn’t come because it was in the city,” Keyserling says. “The retail came because it’s in proximity to this large growth in residential living. The fact that the city- we didn’t annex the roads. We didn’t inherit the problem, and quite frankly, only one parcel, two parcels, two corners, have been annexed by the city in recent years,” he says.

“The bottom line is that if we did nothing, if no one overcame that there is a traffic problem on Lady’s Island today, how many more cars will come to Lady’s Island for the retail…if you can’t look at the whole picture, then you’re never going to get a hold of it,” Keyserling tells NEWS 3. “We’re going to end up with a piece-meal product that’s going to not be good for the people of Lady’s Island, not be good for the city, not be good for the county, and not be good for the state,” he says.

The finance committee will resume the discussion in its next meeting.

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