August 7, 2023

Victoria Hansen, South Carolina Public Radio

St. Helena community files motions in developer's appeal to build three six-hole golf courses

A golf course is a golf course no matter how small — that’s the cry on Saint Helena Island as a developer continues to push his plans despite a decades-old zoning law.

Conservationists and community members on South Carolina's St. Helena Island have filed motions to intervene as they try to defend the island from development, they say, threatens the existence of Gullah Geechee people.

In June, the Beaufort County Council upheld a decades-old zoning law by denying developer Elvio Tropeano’s request to build an 18-hole golf course on 500 acres he purchased known as Pine Island. The cultural protection overlay law prohibits golf courses, resorts and gated communities on Saint Helena.

Tropeano has also proposed building three six-hold golf courses on separate parcels of his land. Conservationists call it an attempt to circumvent the zoning law, and the county planning commission said no to that idea in June as well.

The 35-year-old developer has since sued the county for upholding the law, questioning its legality. And he’s appealing the planning commission’s denial of the three smaller courses.

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