Rezoning Barrier Islands

How can zoning increase property values and create a vibrant community on barrier islands?

While designing the Jetty House on Folly Beach, South Carolina, we realized the zoning ordinances were yielding unequal opportunities and breaking down community. Waterfront property has the highest value because desirable ocean views are guaranteed. This leaves lots located further back with declining values. Waterfront lots tend to maximize their buildable areas and heights to maximize value. This effectively produces a wall along the water’s edge with limited visibility and access, and a more urbanized backdrop when standing on the beach looking inland. If we invert the zoning by allowing only interior lots to build an additional story, we can reduce the waterfront wall affect, and have ocean views from interior lots thereby increasing their value. 

Because barrier islands face the threat of rising storm waters, zoning ordinances and insurance companies now require homes to be elevated some 12 feet in the air. This means the ground level will effectively become uninhabited as older shacks are replaced which breaks down the vibrancy of community. To begin to combat this affect, we can look to ways to use the ground beneath homes with landscape, breakaway pavilions, stairs, paths, and other elements. If we can create a new network of communal pathways and access points on the ground level, new uses will take root and reknit the island lifestyle.