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BEAUFORT, S.C. (July 28, 2020) – The City of Beaufort’s Department of Community & Economic Development recently changed when public hearings are conducted so that public comments can be considered earlier in the process.
Facilitated by the department, public hearings are required for rezoning requests, amendments to the zoning ordinance, and annexation requests -- when more than 75% of property owners request the annexation into the city. (If 100% of property owners request annexation, no hearing is needed. If fewer than 75% petition it, the request must be voted on by the property owners.)
Previously, City Council held public hearings before the first reading of the relevant ordinance; this resulted in the public hearing occurring after the item had been reviewed by the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).
Now, public hearings will be conducted by City Council prior to the application going to the MPC. The MPC votes whether to recommend to City Council the change or annexation. The request then goes to City Council for two separate readings (votes).
“We want to hear from the public before the matter goes to any board for a decision,” said David Prichard, director of Community & Economic Development. “It’s important to get input at the front end.”
Notices of public hearings are advertised in local newspapers and posted on the City’s website. Signs are posted on the property(s) and postcards sent to adjacent property owners in cases of annexation and rezoning.