Throughout its more than 60-year history, the 5,800 acres that comprise Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort have played a key role in the national defense by hosting training exercises and operations that ensure our military's readiness to meet every challenge. Offshore airspace and advanced technology provide excellent ranges for air-to-air training. Today, the 3.9 million square yards of runways and taxiways are home to nine Marine Corps and Navy squadrons of F/A-18 Hornet advanced fighter-attack aircraft. The MCAS Beaufort hosts more than 12,000 military members, dependents, and civilian employees.
The Navy nominated MCAS Beaufort for a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) in 1999 because of significant population growth and development around the installation. Beaufort County experienced population growth in excess of 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, and was the fastest growing county in South Carolina at the time. A partnership consisting of Beaufort County, the city of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal, MCAS Beaufort, and the Lowcountry Council of Governments (COG) undertook the JLUS. The Lowcountry COG conducted and completed the JLUS in 2004 on behalf of the partnership. Upon completion of the JLUS, an implementation program was developed to determine how best to cooperatively ensure the continued economic development of the area while maintaining the present and future integrity of operations and training at MCAS Beaufort.
Beaufort County amended its zoning ordinance to codify JLUS recommendations including height, density, and land use restrictions around MCAS Beaufort. The JLUS participants subsequently requested and received Office of Economic Adjustment assistance to prepare and utilize a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program. A detailed TDR implementation plan incorporating financial, administrative, and management structures and procedures has been developed. In addition, community education on the draft TDR plan has continued the process of building participation and "buy-in" from landowners, community organizations, developers, financial institutions, and local governments. The MCAS Beaufort TDR program has received local government encouragement from both elected and appointed officials. Beaufort County has moved forward in adopting a transfer of development rights ordinance to establish a pilot program around MCAS Beaufort. If successful, the Beaufort County TDR ordinance will serve as a model for a city and county-wide program.
Community Website: www.lowcountryjlus.org
Beaufort TDR Implementation Plan: www.lowcountrycog.sc.gov/planning/Pages/default.aspx