Cultural Protection Overlay

On May 8th, 2023, the Beaufort County Council approved updates to the Cultural Protection Overlay (CPO). The revised CPO language clarifies and reaffirms the original intent of the ordinance in accordance with the 2040 Envision Beaufort County Comprehensive Plan. You can view the most current CPO language here.

What is the CPO?

The Cultural Protection Overlay (CPO) was created in the late 1990s to protect the Gullah/Geechee cultural resources of St. Helena Island. The St. Helena community did not want the same development pattern as other Sea Islands, like nearby Hilton Head, Fripp, and Dataw Islands.

The Cultural Protection Overlay prior to the adoption of May 8th, 2023 updates, which help to clarify and reaffirm the original intent of the overlay.

The CPO zoning district bans golf courses, gated communities, resorts, and restrictions to waterways and culturally significant locations on St. Helena Island. The Beaufort County 2040 Comprehensive Plan highlights how the overlay prevents gentrification and the loss of Gullah Geechee culture and land.

The CPO district boundaries include the entirety of St. Helena Island, including Pine Island and St. Helenaville as depicted on the zoning map below. It serves as additional protection over the T2Rural zoning and was developed by and for the St. Helena community in the 1990s. The overlay has stood for over 20 years and it continues to guide development on St. Helena today.

Original Photos by Miles Sanders