By Theresa Stratford for The Island Connection
Kiawah Island Mayor John Labriola addressed the residents and other constituents at the Town Council meeting on June 7 with a heartfelt message. “The next five years will see a great amount of activity,” Labriola observed. “There will be projects underway, some completed and some being initiated. And they will be big projects. With development will come traffic and roadway enhancements and all of that will be difficult to deal with. I think about the challenges on the environment – the ocean, marshland, etc. It will be a challenging time for all of us, including residents, visitors and staff.” Labriola went on to say that with those challenges, there will be tension. “How do we handle the tension that will need to be constructive tension?” Labriola addressed the audience at the meeting saying that he and the other members of Council are committed to do everything they can to get all the interested parties and stakeholders together to put together a comprehensive plan. The last comprehensive plan for Kiawah Island was put together in 2015. The state of South Carolina requires towns to put together a comprehensive plan every five years. The plans are in depth studies at what the town can anticipate in terms of population, housing, economy, community facilities, natural resources, cultural resources, land use, transportation and investments. Labriola said that his hope at the end of the planning process is that all the stakeholders can walk away saying they had input and that it is understood. Planning Director John Taylor presented at the Town Council meeting about the look ahead for the comprehensive plan. “My role will be to leverage the different opportunities to engage with the community,” Taylor explained. In his presentation, he urged the residents to get involved since community involvement will be a big part of the comprehensive plan. “Imagine we took a study of the marsh, a study of the remaining lands to be developed, areas of housing and other projects and put it all together into a bigger picture for the comprehensive plan,” Taylor added. Taylor said that the plan will look at Kiawah Island as a whole. He also said that traffic and transportation will be a large part of the plan. But mainly, he reiterated that community involvement would be vital. “There will be multiple opportunities for the community to engage on this. We want them to have their thumbprint on it,” Taylor added. The planning commission will be obtaining help from a third party company to complete the comprehensive plan. Taylor said that they anticipate finalizing the selection of the third party company by this summer and that the majority of the community involvement opportunities will begin this fall. The target date to complete the plan is early 2023.
The community will be informed of the upcoming comprehensive planning meetings in various ways by email blasts, newsletters and on the Town’s website. Town Administrator Stephanie Monroe Tillerson noted that this comprehensive plan will be a document that staff and Council can go to for future development. She said that it will expand out of the town limits as well, including areas that are still a big part of the Kiawah Island community. She also explained that the third party company that will assist with the plan will be approved by Council. Council member Dan Prickett echoed Labriola’s call to action. “We need to take a hard look at where we have been and an even harder look at where we are going. We are faced with new challenges that we didn’t face five years ago. We need involvement from the community and all our partners in order to make as thoughtful of a plan as we can and something we can use for the next five years.”
Prickett said to Taylor, “I salute the effort.”