August 3, 2008

Restaurant Owner Wins Permission for Mackays Creek Dock

By Michael Welles Shapiro, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Aug. 3--The builder of a pagoda-shaped restaurant visible from the bridges to Hilton Head Island was granted permission to build a dock that extends 350 feet into Mackays Creek by Beaufort County's zoning board.

The decision comes as construction continues on the building, which has a new sign that reads Sea Trawler Restaurant.

The owner, Wilbert Roller Jr., had signaled at an April zoning board meeting that he would withdraw his 350-foot dock application in favor of a dock that met the county's current length restrictions of 300 feet. But his attorney, David Tedder, changed positions at the board's July 24 meeting.

Tedder told the board that Roller should have been granted the longer dock for his Buckingham Landing property when he first applied for it. That was back in 1993, Tedder said.

At the time, Tedder said, Roller had been denied the dock by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control because he was involved in a lawsuit with the county over other permits needed to build his seafood restaurant.

Roller has since gotten a dock permit from DHEC, and Tedder argued that the county's 300-foot limit shouldn't apply because a dock ordinance didn't exist in 1993.

If it weren't "for the actions of Beaufort County ... we'd have had a dock there for 15 years," Tedder said. "It's that simple of an issue."

The county has said it didn't extend Roller's development and building permits in the early 1990s because Roller, who was having trouble financing the restaurant, did little work on the project for the five years after he originally was issued permits in 1987. A judge ultimately sided with Roller in the dispute

Roller has argued that boat access is crucial to his future restaurant's success, though some neighbors are worried it will bring unwanted boat traffic to their quiet


Angela Fulkert, a 25-year resident in the Buckingham Landing neighborhood, said restaurant patrons would crowd the channel leading to the county's Buckingham boat landing. Her husband, Tiger, said the dock would block the county landing at low tide, severely restricting access.

Residents also have complained the restaurant would create traffic and parking problems in their small community. The 180-seat restaurant has 56 parking spots. Street parking in the neighborhood is limited to

homeowners, but residents have said they fear their streets will become clogged with parked cars.


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