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For the People

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BLUFFTON COUNCILMAN REFLECTS ON PRESERVING BLUFFTON STATE OF MIND

Dan Wood might be one of the newest members of Bluffton Town Council, but he’s not new to community involvement.

Wood, who was elected to Town Council in 2015, has been living in the Lowcountry since 1979 and has served on boards and committees for a variety of organizations: the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, the Town Planning Commission, the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee, the Affordable Housing Committee. He’s also a member of The Church of the Cross and the founder of the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival.

He’s also a past president of the Rotary Club of Bluffton and was honored as a past Rotarian of the Year. Among all his other commitments and activities, Rotary is nearest and dearest to his heart.

“The thing that I enjoy more than anything else is being a member of the Bluffton Rotary,” Wood said. “I just love people.”

In his opinion, one of the biggest challenges facing Bluffton today is affordable and attainable housing. Bluffton’s median income for a four-person household is $83,000, and “the median cost of a home here is more than $300,000,” Wood said. “Housing for those in the workforce is a challenge in this area, but steps are being taken in the right direction.”

WE WANT TO BUILD A COMMUNITY WHILE PRESERVING OUR CULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES.

– DAN WOOD

As examples, he points to the town’s reduction of property tax in 2017 and 2018, the addition of sewer lines, and several strategic land purchases that could be used for workforce housing.

None of these projects, he said, required the town to take on new debt. At the start of his time on Town Council, Wood was focused on smart growth, he said. But as the town continued to see its population swell, he has to rethink his priorities. Today, he thinks the town should be focused on sustainable growth and preserving residents’ quality of life.

“We need to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future,” he said. “Traffic and transportation are going to be critical. We’re going to need multimodal transit and attainable housing. We want to build a community while preserving our cultural and environmental resources.”

Preserving the Lowcountry’s culture means preserving its history, Wood said. He said the Lowcountry’s historical sites are also economic drivers — tourists flock to “the last true coastal village of the South” to soak up its Lowcountry charm, stroll its walkable streets and tour its buildings that date to the Civil War — which is why it’s important that ordinances have been put in place to protect these structures while preservation plans come to fruition. One such site? The Squire Pope Carriage House, built in 1850 and owned by wealthy plantation owner Squire William Pope.

Wood retired after more than 30 years with Palmetto Electric Cooperative, giving him more time to volunteer with area organizations — and more time to spend with his family: He and wife Debbie love gathering in their Old Town Bluffton home with their children and grandchildren. He also can be found fishing local rivers or puttering in his boat over to the May River sand bar. It’s a way of life he and others want to preserve for future generations.

“If you build a town and a community for cars, cars will come. If you build a town and a community for people, people will come,” Wood recalled a local resident say at a recent Town Council meeting. The statement resonated with Wood: “We want a community for people.”