By Gregg Bragg, Senior Staff Writer for the Island Connection
The announcement that Kiawah Partners filed paperwork for a road designed to cut between Duneside Rd. and Beachwalker Dr. came in like a lion, and went out like a lamb. The month of March witnessed a king tide of residents voicing their objections in every available forum, including the annual meeting of the Kiawah Island Community Association, in the run up to the official hearing with the town’s Planning Commission scheduled for April 4.
KICA’s official response to the flood of objections came in the form of a letter to PC Chair Fred Peterson. The letter read in part, “The purpose of this correspondence… is to transmit official notice that the properties in question are encumbered by recorded convents and restrictions. Furthermore, the covenants are contrary to, conflict with, and perhaps even prohibit the permitted activity. South Carolina statute 6-29-1145 states that a planning agency, upon notice of such a conflict, may not issue a permit until it has received confirmation from the applicant that the restrictive covenant has been released for the tract or parcel of land by action of the appropriate authority or property holders or by court order.”
Consideration of the final subdivision plat including Duneside Rd. was the sole item on the PC agenda for the April meeting, which was rescheduled for May 2nd. Town Administrator Stephanie Tillerson told the Island Connection the cancellation resulted from delays in a [related] traffic study. However, the proposal was withdrawn on April 9 via a letter to Kiawah’s elected officials from KP director of development, Ray Pantlik.
“… Kiawah Partners stands by its previously submitted Restricted Covenants Affidavit dated February 5, 2018. This affidavit underscored that the previously proposed final plat did not conflict with, was not contrary to, and was not prohibited by any restrictive covenants including the KICA covenants. [KP] strongly disagrees with the assertions recently made by KICA. But now that [KP] is willing to proceed with a final plat that is a mirror of the conditional plat with no connection, [KP] sees no need to put the planning staff and the [PC] in the middle of our difference of opinion with KICA. [KP] intends to meet with KICA leadership to explore the positions it is asserting in an effort to reach a resolution.
“[KPs’] willingness to proceed with the proposed final plat I am delivering with this letter should not be considered as a concession or admission of the validity of any of the criticism that was waged against the draft final plat that we are withdrawing. [KP] is reserving its rights to submit plans and applications in the future at this and other locations on the island that may be contrary to the assertions that have been made. Any such plans or applications will of course have to be in keeping with the applicable town ordinances and not violate restrictive covenants if that statutory section is triggered.
“[KP] has concluded at this particular time it is best to avoid the sharp division in the community generated by our prior submission regardless of whether we had the right to proceed under the ordinances, covenants, and our development agreement… We trust that this new submission will take care of all of the objections and rancor about this final plat …,” read salient parts of the letter.
The legal implications of KP’s letter were not lost on John Connolly, Kiawah Island Condo Owners Association Treasurer. Because of the importance of any action the PC would take and the impending KICA discussions, he urged scrutiny in a letter to the group’s membership.
“As a result of the ongoing efforts of the current KICOA Board, and in cooperation with our great neighbors at Duneside I and Duneside II,… Kiawah Partners has withdrawn its proposal to connect Duneside Road to its Beachwalker East development, which includes Timbers Kiawah. This has been a major area of concern for the board over the last few months. Board members have spent countless hours and attended numerous community meetings to speak out against this outrageous proposal.
“In their letter to the Town, KP has acknowledged the high level of objections … created by their actions. At the same time, however, they have explicitly stated that their letter of withdrawal should not be considered as a concession or admission of the validity of that criticism.
“We will need to remain vigilant, but we should certainly be pleased with today’s developments!” stated Connolly.