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Feb 25 2020

Kiawah Island Town Council Sets Speed Record

By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Sr. Staff Writer

Most records were made to be broken, but this one maybe not so much. The Kiawah Island Town Council broke the 30-minute meeting barrier on Feb. 4, sprinting through a skinny agenda and effectively slamming the door on neighboring Seabrook’s previous best of 41 minutes.

Mayor Craig Weaver opened his remarks by saying Council member Maryanne Connelly and Town Administrator Stephanie Tillerson were out of town for a meeting of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, and Council member Klaus Said was on his way to New Zealand. Three Council members constitute a quorum. 

Weaver went on to express some level of disappointment. He said the town received three bids in response to its plans to repave and re-landscape Kiawah Island Parkway. None of them were 100% in line with the $2 million he had anticipated for the project, and the Ways and Means Committee had yet to weigh in on the matter. Consequently, announcement of the winning bid would have to wait until the following week after special meetings of both Ways and Means and the Town Council on Feb. 11, Weaver said.

There were no contributions to the first installment of citizens’ comments, so the Council moved on to the consent portion of the agenda, voting for five items with a single unanimous vote:

  • A $145,000 – $9,000 in travel expenses to be billed separately – contract with HR&A to study the factors determining property values on the island – $15,000 for kickoff; $22,000 for stakeholder engagement; $46,500 to do a market assessment and study competitive positioning; $18,500 to assess governance on Kiawah; $23,500 for findings and recommendations; and $19,500 to deliver and present their final report.
  • A renewal of the town’s contract with Island Beach Services to continue performing beach patrol, with some minor updates to the contract language – including a separate housing allowance.
  • Renewal of the town’s franchise agreement with Tidal Trails.
  • Renewal of the town’s agreement with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office to provide police protection, traffic control and emergency response at $30/hour, $45/hour on holidays and $35/ hour for county staff to coordinate scheduling. There will be two deputies on the second shift (4 p.m. to midnight), two on the third shift (midnight to 8 a.m.) and two additional deputies on weekends (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). There is an additional $10/deputy/shift charge for vehicle and equipment usage.
  • Institution/installation of a tidal measuring station at the bridge over the Kiawah River.

The town will pay Xyzlem nearly $30,000 for the hardware, plus additional recurring charges estimated at between $50 and $70 per month.

 New business consisted of some housecleaning chores. Two additional spots were added to Arts Council as a way of preserving and transitioning valuable skills and experience on the storied committee. Patrick Kerin and Richard Ames will be added to the team’s roster. The changes to the group’s charter and addition of members received the unanimous support of the Council.

The last item of new business became very convoluted. Roger Warren (Kiawah Island Golf Resort), Pam Harrington (Pam Harrington Exclusives) and Don Semmler (Andell Inn) will remain on the State Accommodations Tax Committee (ATAX), along with property owner representative Diana Mezzanotte. The developer’s representative will be replaced by Amy Anderson. The remaining two positions/assignments seemed the result of some serious card shuffling.

Longtime Arts Council icon Bill Blizard is stepping down as the Arts Council representative to ATAX. Longterm chair of the committee Dan Hubbard has decided against another term.  Weaver could not seem to thank Blizard and Hubbard enough, celebrating their contributions and lamenting the loss of their insight. Gary Rice will take over the spot dedicated to Arts Council representation, and John Wilson (think Kiawah Motoring Retreat) will fill the remaining property owner seat. However, chairing the committee will fall to nonvoting committee and Town Council member Chris Widuch. The changes required some explaining but passed unanimously.

Council member Dan Prickett shared that the Arts Council distributed nearly 1,200 tickets to events, many of which were free to Kiawah residents.

“Fourth quarter was a busy one with seven programs, five of which were without cost to residents and guests,” he said. 

Prickett went on to report that 500 residents are registered with the town and able to go online to get tickets as soon as they become available. He said finding venues is the biggest hurdle for the Arts Council, and he made a point of thanking those who contribute their facilities, including The Sanctuary.

“I saw the video of Liquid Pleasure,” said the mayor as he addressed a comment to Kiawah Island Golf Resort CEO Roger Warren. “Do we have any charges coming back for destruction?”

“We’re sending a bill,” replied Warren in a deadpan voice.

Prickett concluded his remarks by noting a number of requests to help with

marsh management through the Board of Zoning Appeals. He said he needs to coordinate with Public Works but thinks the town needs a more comprehensive marsh management plan, “so that we’re not doing this lot by lot. So we’re going to be looking at that.”

Kiawah Resident Wendy Kulick was the sole contributor during the second round of citizens’ comments. She heaped praise on the town for the way it conducted its annual retreat. She said education was the key takeaway from the exercise and that many residents still don’t have a good handle on the division of responsibilities on the island. She floated the idea of a centralized clearing house/switchboard for information.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned, but with plenty in store for meetings on Feb. 11.

 Ways and Means was scheduled for 30 minutes on Feb. 11, starting at 3 p.m., but ran over. TOKI representatives debated less landscaping/phased landscaping/ omitted sections and every possible permutation thereof to no avail. The “cheaper by the dozen/this sale won’t last” pitch prevailed.

Ways and Means was adjourned and a meeting of the Town Council was convened immediately. The Council voted unanimously in favor of $2.548 million to repave and re-landscape Kiawah Island Parkway from the roundabout to the gate, and the Council meeting was also adjourned in a flash. The combined total of both meetings was approximately 26 minutes.

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