Bay Point Island Annexation
On September 20, 2016, Hilton Head Island Town Council voted unanimously to accept an application for the annexation of Bay Point Island, a vulnerable barrier island at the mouth of the Port Royal sound. This development is in direct contradiction of the County Comprehensive Plan and disrupts an ecologically significant barrier island.
Bay Point Island’s owner has interest from Six Senses Spa and Resort, of Bankok, Thailand, to develop the property into an “eco-resort” with 50 homes, tennis and spa facilities. The annexation is contingent upon approval of development plans and rezoning. We urge the Town of Hilton Head to reject annexation and development of Bay Point Island.
- Click here to contact your town council member and ask them to do the same!
- Sign the petition to protect Bay Point!
- To learn more about annexations and view a printable fact sheet, click here.
What’s next? The Town Council will discuss the annexation process at their annual planning workshop, December 1 and 2nd at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa at 2 Grasslawn Ave. By taking action at the links above, you can help us prevent this development and annexation. There is simply nothing “eco-friendly” about enabling the development of Bay Point Island.
To read more about our position, review this op-ed.
What’s in it for Hilton Head?
Hilton Head is attracted by the prospect of a high-end resort to rebrand Hilton Head for affluent travelers. Six Senses Resort is proposing an “eco-resort” that will consist of 46 beach bungalows, community facilities and will have on site “state of the art” sewer, water and on-site power. Current plans call for workers to arrive by boat from St. Helena or Port Royal, and guests from a Hilton Head marina.
However, there is plenty of opportunity for redevelopment and eco-tourism on Hilton Head island itself. In fact, the Island comprehensive plan encourages this type of on-Island redevelopment. We believe concentrating on the main island would be better for Hilton Head residents, tax payers and the environment.
What’s at risk for Hilton Head?
The ongoing financial costs of this annexation will be significant. The island is erosional and at the edge of the Port Royal Sound, so Hilton Head must be aware of ongoing beach management costs. To date, Hilton Head has spent over $100million on beach renourishment on the main island alone! If the developer backs out, or a service provision fails, Hilton Head will be the town in charge, and history does not suggest this responsibility is to be taken lightly.
What’s wrong with development on Bay Point?
Wildlife impact: Annexation and development would harm a nationally designated Important Bird Area. At high tide from December through March, Bay Point Island holds around 5,000 shorebirds and that number can sometimes reach 8,000. This is only possible because there is minimal human disturbance on Bay Point Island. As the Audubon Society has noted: “no other area within miles approaches the holding power of this island and inlet to shorebirds in winter.”
Infrastructure: Water and sewer would be expensive and impractical to provide to the island. There are no existing septic permits and private utilities carry costly risks to the environment. The resort will also need electricity. Even if the proposed resort utilizes solar or wind power, it will need to fuel a backup generator and that fuel will need to be delivered to the island by some combination of planes, boats and vehicles. Ultimately, the town of Hilton Head is responsible for the long-term liability of these operations.
Regional planning: Rouge annexations like this, well outside of town boundaries, threaten county and regional plans. We’ve seen this before in Beaufort County: Yemassee annexed Binden Plantation, Port Royal annexed the Mobley tract. In these cases, both properties have been protected, but neither should have been proposed for high development in the first place. The County comprehensive plan is a guiding document for growth and infrastructure and this annexation ignores it completely.
The Island Packet: Beaufort County officials left in dark on Bay Point Island plans
The Island Packet: Bay Point Island annexation first pitched to Port Royal
The Island Packet: 3 things to know about Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
The Island Packet: Hilton Head Town Council met privately with second island officials
The Island Packet: Hilton Head Workshop: How to annex a barrier island
Coastal Conservation League Op-ed: Three Reasons Hilton Head should not annex Bay Point Island
Our statehouse work features updates on annexation reform. Read more here.
Our local work on land protection chronicles similar annexation follies. Read more here.
To learn more about annexations and view a printable fact sheet, click here.