blufftontowncBluffton Town Council will welcome two newcomers to Town Hall, as Dan Wood and Harry Lutz won seats in the Nov. 17 three-way candidate runoff.

Lutz overcame a 173-vote deficit from the Nov. 3 general election to oust incumbent Ted Huffman.

Wood, the leading vote getter from the first vote, led the way again with 723 votes (39.5 percent). Lutz garnered 623 votes (34.1) and Huffman won just 483 votes (26.4).

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley thought she coming to the Lowcountry for a Republican fundraiser on Nov. 12. That’s before U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio mentioned her as a potential vice presidential running mate at a Hilton Head campaign stop earlier in the day.

But Haley downplayed the latest flurry of rumors that have been circulating since the summer. She told the Beaufort County Republican Party that she is not considering such a move at this time.

cottages

Bluffton real estate investor Eugene Marks recently proposed developing six residential cottages and six mixed-use buildings on a three-acre lot he owns in the Stock Farm development in Old Town Bluffton. The cottages would be similar to the buildings located throughout Old Town, with metal roofs and wooden porches, and would range in size from 900 to 2,800 square feet.

The town of Bluffton is considering changes to development rules that would result in bringing the rapidly growing town more affordable housing. A draft of changes to the Unifie Development Ordinance was recently released. The change would encourage developers to build more affordable houses in a responsible way. In exchange for building new housing developments with the same materials used in “market-rate” units, builders would be allowed to place homes on smaller lots than currently allowed of “market-rate” homes. Changes to the UDO will be discussed further by Town Council during a workshop in January.

nonsmokingIn 2007, Beaufort County forced smokers to take it outside. Now, the town of Bluffton is just one step away from passing a smoking ban near the playground equipment at Dubois Park. Town Council gave preliminary approval for the ban in October. The code change is pending a final vote this month. If passed, smoking will be banned within a 50-foot radius of the playground equipment designed for children. Smoking bans on other current and future Bluffton parks will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

As one of the nation's fastest-growing towns, Bluffton is facing many challenges, from traffic congestion and a developing infrastructure to industry diversification and meeting the needs of a young community. How the town will address these challenges is up to the winners of the upcoming mayoral and Town Council races. 

The town of Bluffton is developing a plan to get rid of dilapidated and unsafe buildings within its city limits. The Affordable Housing Committee recently approved a tiered program to provide money to owners of property that city officials deem unsafe. Owners who report less than 80 percent of the town's median household income of $65,486 can apply for payment.

blufftonteensCould the Lowcountry be home to another “American Idol”? Three seasons after St. Helena Island native Candice Glover won the 12th season of the popular reality singing competition, two Bluffton teenagers have advanced to the celebrity judge round of the 15th and final season of the show.

affordablehousingThe Bluffton House, an affordable apartment community located at 20 Simmonsville Road, is upgrading to two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments. Vacant apartments that were once home to low-income families who paid discounted monthly rent are being completely remodeled with new appliances, granite-like countertops, wood-style flooring and ceiling fans in every bedroom.

blufftonculturalA group of Bluffton artists has formed the Bluffton Creative Initiative. The group would like for all of Old Town Bluffton and a few surrounding neighborhoods to be designated a cultural district by the South Carolina Arts Commission. The group feels the designation will attract artists and creative entrepreneurs, encourage economic and cultural development, attract more tourists, preserve historic buildings and create a supportive environment for arts and culture.