By Katy Calloway, The Island Connection Managing Editor
The regular monthly meeting of Kiawah’s Town Council opened with the unanimous approval of April’s minutes with no comments.
Mayor Weaver began the meeting by recollecting the Johns Island Improvement Committee meeting, of which he is a member. “It was an interesting meeting, it is really early in the process,” he said. Weaver is optimistic that the committee will be effective in managing the direction that Johns Island is going in.
The Mayor stressed the importance of the County Council election that is coming in November. The seat representing Kiawah is up for grabs. In coordination with Seabrook, Kiawah is hosting a candidate’s Meet and Greet on May 30, and Mayor Weaver urged attendance.
Mayor Weaver noted the upcoming Planning Commission meeting that was anticipating controversy around Kiawah Partners’ proposal for parcel 13 on Duneside Road. “I believe that this is no longer a controversial issue,” said Weaver in regards to the recently amended plat. The new proposal looks very similar to the original plat and Weaver does not feel that it warrants residents concern any longer.
The poll distributed by Mayor Weaver several weeks ago received a better than anticipated response. The survey asked full-time and part-time residents to prioritize concerns. The Mayor highlighted some of these, the top four being: maintaining the beach and dunes, protecting Kiawah’s wildlife and natural habitat, having roads across Johns Island safer and less congested and keeping the island well maintained and representative of a premier community.
Finally, Mayor Weaver addressed Judge McGill’s insistence through public comments to council that have included allegations that question the Town’s conduct and accuracy relating to the compensation of the Town Clerk. Weaver credited McGill’s sincerity but clarified that his allegations are absolutely incorrect.
After no citizen’s comments, the meeting continued with a presentation by Steve Traynum from Coastal Science and Engineering on the annual beach monitoring program. The report monitors 10 miles of beach for habitat quality and erosion. Kiawah is one of the few accretive islands in the state but Traynum identified hurricane frequency as the biggest threat to the shoreline.
Overall he defined the beach as fairly stable, stating erosion was mostly restricted to the area east of the Ocean Course. A break from significant hurricane events would allow the beach to recover more quickly, fingers crossed.
No old business was on the agenda so Mayor Weaver moved on to consent items. Second and final readings of several ordinances that had already undergone public hearings were handled as a single block of votes. Consequently, agenda items C,D,E, and F were approved unanimously. They included: Ordinance 2018-02 and -03, which allows for a floating dock at 248 Eagle Point Rd., Ordinance 2018-04, which changes the existing Future Land Use designation to Active Recreation, Residential and Open Space at the property located at 1000 Ocean Course Dr., Ordinance 2018-05 creates a new zoning district – Parks and Recreation-Ocean Course, and finally Ordinance 2018-06, which rezones aforementioned property.
The State Accommodations Tax Committee considers and recommends to the Ways and Means Committee, the allocation of the SATAX funds, which are very restrictive in their use. TOKI projected receiving $1.1M in funds for allocation and received requests for $1.4M. The SATAX Committee ultimately recommended allocation of funds to five organizations; Ways and Means designated the final allocations to: TOKI $485,000, Kiawah Island Golf Resort $435,000, Freshfields Village $50,000, The Kiawah Island Motoring Retreat $10,000 and the PGA Championship $120,000. After Councilmember Wilson recused himself from voting on the Motoring Retreat, Council approved the allocations unanimously.
Next item on the agenda was the first reading of Ordinance 2018-07, which would make the permitting and licensing process more efficient and user friendly.
Councilmember Widuch explained the process of evaluation, and that the amendment would result in eliminating 50% of the need for permits issued by the Town. The intent of the change is to make it easier for residents to maintain their homes. The motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously.
Ordinance 2018-08 was also up for first reading, to adopt the budget for fiscal year 2018-19. Mayor Weaver went over the proposed budget in great detail. Copies are available to the public. The motion to adopt the budget was approved unanimously. Public hearing and second reading of the ordinance will take place in June.
There was no significant report from the Town Administrator.
Mayor Weaver reported that Randy Gilmore, Chair of the BZA has tendered his resignation. The Town will be posting a notice to acquire a new member. Gilmore was a member of the BZA since 2012 and Mayor Weaver thanked him for his service.
Councilmember reports included Arts Council events updates. Councilmember Mezzanotte also reported from the Sea Level Rise Committee that two representatives from College of Charleston have been working on a Tropical Storm Irma flood study to pinpoint why certain areas flood and provide certain solutions. They will present their findings on May 10. This should explain where water is entering the island and what areas are most vulnerable. Councilmember Wilson reported on his attendance of the Charleston Area Transportation Study meeting. A presentation by SC DOT confirmed that roads on Johns Island, “are a mess and will get far, far worse,” he said. Wilson stated that what is critically needed on Johns Island are: improved design at the end of the Gelegotis Bridge along with a traffic circle, a four lane Maybank Hwy., and a cross island parkway running from the end of Betsy Kerrison Pkwy. to River Rd. where it meets Maybank Hwy. Wilson noted that the state is spending money on roads however they are totally ignoring Johns Island’s roads.
Councilmember Widuch reported that Disaster Awareness Day will be held at Kiawah Council Chambers on Wednesday, June 13 from 2-4 p.m. There will be a wine reception following. The event is open to Kiawah and Seabrook residents.
The regular meeting was then adjourned to Executive Session to receive legal advice regarding the lawsuit against the former Town Administrator, Treasurer and Auditors. The next regular meeting of the Kiawah Island Town Council will be June 5 at 2 p.m.
Following Executive Session, Council convened to move that the Town Attorney take formal civil actions against the former employees of the Town of Kiawah. The vote to proceed was unanimous.