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Apr 14 2011

Kiawah Town Council – April 5, 2011


Jack Reagan of the new Kiawah Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, gave a brief presentation to the Council on the purpose and structure of the program. Reagan explained that, while CERT began in the 1990s, it was made a part of President Bush’s Citizen Corps in 2003. Today, there are 1635 programs nationwide, with 22 programs in South Carolina. The Kiawah CERT is part of the Lowcountry CERT program, which currently has 21 teams in its jurisdiction. “If you run the math, there are a whole lot of us across the country,” said Reagan.

Why CERT? Reagan explained that, if emergency responders are cut off from an area or can’t make it in time, CERT volunteers are trained to handle the first 72 to 98 hours after a disaster such as a tornado, earthquake, hurricane or tsunami. All CERT members undergo 40 hours of online training to learn incident command structure, then 32 hours of classroom training in eight, four hour sessions, followed by a final exam and final practical exam. All trained CERT members are covered under the Good Samaritan Act and Volunteer Protection Act, and are taught how to deal with the three primary killers immediately following an incident: excessive bleeding, shock, and airway blockage.

“During the recent earthquake in Japan, 800 people were saved immediately following the disaster, but 100 volunteers were killed,” said Reagan. “CERT is meant to avoid that.”

He concluded by noting that their team currently has 16 members, and they are hoping to double their membership. In order to set up the CERT program properly, the Team would need approximately $30,000 initially with ongoing annual expenses estimated at around $5,000.

Mayor Orban thanked Reagan for doing such a fine job summarizing, and stated that he had a few ideas on how they could make the program on the island.

Later in the meeting, the Council discussed how best to implement the CERT program on the island, and Town Attorney Dennnis Rhoad stated that the town’s liability insurance policy already protects town employees and volunteers, and the town would not need to pay more for their insurance policy as long as the CERT volunteers were designated as volunteers. Rhoad also noted that there is no standard for how CERT programs are supported by their municipalities, though he suggested that they look into whether the various CERT programs in Charleston County would be covered under Charleston County.

Councilmember Greg VanDerwerker remarked that CERT is a great program, and “if it meshes with what the town can do, then it should certainly do it.”

The Council unanimously approved to accept CERT as part of the Kiawah Island Public Safety Committee.

Before closing the topic, Orban asked that the new CERT compose a budgeting plan on what they would need to get started and what they would need in years two and three. In the meantime, the Council and the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) will talk about sharing costs. “Our commitment would be for three years on a year to year basis, and after three years, we’ll see if it’s still working and if people are still interested,” said Mayor Orban.

Helipad Capital Campaign for Roper St. Francis

Steve Bottcher of Seabrook Island introduced Dr. Patrick Kelly and Wanda Brockmeyer of Roper St. Francis, who discussed a $2 million community campaign to put a rooftop helipad access on the roof of Roper St. Francis, downtown. Currently, the hospital shares the helipad at the Jonathan Lucas Street Parking Garage with MUSC, and the moving of a patient from the helipad to the hospital requires multiple episodes of patient loading and unloading, amounting to about 15 to 20 extra minutes of transportation time.

“Right now, we have to carefully measure how far someone is coming to determine how to bring them into the system,” said Brockmeyer, Emergency Service Line Director for Roper St. Francis. “We’re trying to get rid of that extra 20 minutes that we currently lose downtown.”

If installed, patients could be delivered to the south tower of the hospital from Kiawah or Seabrook Islands in under 8 minutes, and transported to the ER and Cath Labs located immediately below the rooftop helipad.

“This would be unique in the Lowcounty – it would be the only hospital with direct access,” said Bottcher. “You would come out of the elevator directly into the Cath Lab.”

The campaign to raise the $2 million is entirely community-based, and Bottcher pointed out that they hope to have the helipad installed at the hospital before the 2012 PGA tournament. He also stated that they will be talking with Seabrook next, but that Kiawah was their first stop. “We’re going to people with the highest need and those who would need the opportunity,” said Bottcher.

For more information on the helipad capital campaign, contact Angie Ping at Roper St. Francis at 789-1617 or email

FY2011 Budget Amendment

Town Treasurer, Kenneth Gunnells, stated that, while the budget amendment to the coming year’s budget increased revenue by $75,000, it also increased expenditures by $75,000, “so the effect is zero,” said Gunnells, noting that the revenues had increased from franchise fees,  and the expenditures were due to an increase in outreach donations and the road project expenditure. The budget amendment had been approved through first reading and had already been through public comment. Council approved the second reading unanimously.

Beach Safety Week proclamation

In honor of Beach Safety Week, which will be coming up this May 23 to 30, Mayor Orban read a proclamation declaring those days as National Beach Safety Week on Kiawah Island, and stated that Kiawah residents and visitors alike should remember to never swim alone, never drink alcohol before swimming, respect the power of the surf and learn to swim.

Zero Tolerance for Litter Awareness Month proclamation

Councilmember Vanderwerker reminded residents about the town’s litter cleanup program on April 15 starting at Town Hall on Friday, April 15, at 9:30 a.m., noting that the cleanup will include both morning snacks and lunch afterward. He went on to read a proclamation declaring the month of April 2011 as  to be Zero Tolerance for Litter Awareness Month on Kiawah Island.

Debris Reduction Site contract

For several years, the Town of Kiawah has been looking for a site near the island where hurricane debris such as trees and limbs could be ground into mulch, as burning is no longer an accepted method of debris destruction. Working with Buddy Darby of Kiawah Development Partners, the town has negotiated the use of a portion of 3321 Bohicket Road on Johns Island, in an area known as Orange Hill Plantation. There is no cost to the town until the site is needed, and the lease when in use will be month to month. “We’re very fortunate to have this,” said Mayor Orban.

Councilmember Fran Wermuth asked about the issue of compensation under the lease, asking about the $30,000 cap included in the language, and Attorney Rhoad stated that the compensation section contained very general language about the lessor’s time, but nothing beyond that. “At the very least, we felt that it should have a maximum cap,” said Rhoad. Rhoad also noted that the town went out for bids on other property, but the Orange Hill property was the only respondent.

Council approved the agreement unanimously, and Councilmember Wermuth noted that her approval was only based on the fact that there were no other options, but that the town did look for other options.

Request to review older neighborhood zoning standards

“Our fellow Councilmember, Charles Lipuma, has had some concerned over building standards during the recent Development Plan,” said Mayor Orban, and in light of that, the Council would like to ask the Planning Commission to look into the requirements for building standards in older neighborhoods around the island.

In a statement left by Lipuma for the Council to read during his absence (Lipuma was not present for the day’s Council meeting), the background for this request is that it is felt that KIGR’s redevelopment of West Beach and East Beach Village could trigger redevelopment of the older neighborhoods in Kiawah’s west end during the next few years. The motion would be to ask the Planning Commission to fully review the current land development regulations applicable to existing R-2 zone residential neighborhoods which are currently comprised of 1 to 1-1/2 story singe family detached houses built at-grade and cottages built on pilings, where lots are small; the existing R-2 Zone neighborhoods in No. 1 with respect to replacing a single family detached house or cottage with a duplex or other attached residential unit; existing R-3 Zone neighborhoods which are currently comprised entirely of multi-family villas and which existing zoning permits a comingling of multifamily and single family detached units; existing R-3 zoned residential neighborhoods with permit multifamily and single family detached housing and is silent on parking location standards for either class of residential units.

“The discussion is good, if nothing else,” said Councilmember VanDerwerker. “It’s [the current zoning regulations] are 20 to 30 years old and things are different. I’m in favor of looking at it.”

Councilmember Al Burnaford noted that they will hold public hearings, and all meetings on the issue will be open to the public.

Council approved sending the request to the Planning Commission unanimously.

Communications Committee Appointment: Jennie Troiano

Councilmember Wermuth recommended that island resident Jennie Troiano be appointed to the town’s new Communications Committee, noting her past experience as a teacher, chair of a literary commission and editor of an in-house business digest.

“It sounds like she’s immanently qualified to be a part of your committee,” said Orban. Troiano was approved for her appointment by Council unanimously.

Ordinance 2011-02: prohibiting plastic bags from yard waste collection

Councilmember VanDerwerker stated that the County Council instituted an ordinance a couple months ago which prohibits plastic bags filled with yard waste from being dumped at the Beesferry landfill. The ordinance goes into effect on June 30, and municipalities are in the process of passing their own ordinances to that effect. The reason, said VanDerwerker, is that the yard waste is mulched and used for compost at the landfill, and it was not cost effective to have labor picking up the shreds of plastic bags caught in the mulcher. Paper bags for yard disposal are available at Lowe’s and Home Depot, as well as area hardware stores, and VanDerwerker noted that he saw a pack of five bags at Lowe’s for $1.98.

The ordinance will go into effect at the same time as the County’s: June 30, 2011. Council approved first reading unanimously. A public hearing will be held on this ordinance before the next Town Council on May 3 at 1:30 p.m.

English as a second language charitable contribution

Darlene Jackson of the St. Johns Library recently contacted Town Council in regards to their charitable contribution to the library of $2,000 for English language software for the local Hispanic community. Unfortunately, the software which the Library was considering was no longer available in disc form, but could be purchased as cloud-based software, which Councilmember VanDerwerker pointed out was better in the long run, as there were no discs to lose. The cost difference for the new software is an additional $500, and Mayor Orban stated that he could find the additional funds through a small discretionary fund. Council approved the charitable donation of $2500 to the St. Johns Library for English as a Second Language software unanimously.

Darlene Jackson later thanked the Council during citizen’s comments, stating that they believe this education will have a generational impact. “This is something that is needed and we hope to tap into the population that is embarrassed to enter into a formal educational setting,” said Jackson, thanking Wendy Kulick for her help in making this happen, as well.

Environmental & Public Works Committees

Councilmember VanDerwerker stated that the Committee is currently looking into the possibility of the island being designated by the Audobon Society as a habitat important to migratory and shore birds. They are also continuing to look into the control of invasive plant species on the island. As for the Public Works Committee, they are looking into the suitability of the handicap entrance to Town Hall, and have invited the architects who designed the building to do a review of the structure and see if there’s anything that needs to be done so that it’s all in order.

Communications Committee

Councilmember Wermuth reported that she is continuing to work with Councilmember Lipuma and Town Administrator Rucker on possible changes to the employee handbook. She also noted that the Public Safety Committee will meet again on April 19.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Orban reported that he attended a Council of Governments where the topic of voting machines was discussed. While the Town of Kiawah has not had any issue with them, apparently some other counties have had some trouble with miscounts. The COG also talked about the census, and it was noted that Kiawah has grown by 40.2% since 2000, increasing from 1000 to 1626 residents in 10 years.

Lastly, Orban stated that he met with Sam Reed of Seabrook Island, Buddy Darby of Kiawah Development Partners and Mayor Riley of the City of Charleston, among others, to discuss the Johns Island Greenway and 526. “It was a pleasant meeting, and I got the feeling that Riley is very supportive of completing 526 and supportive of our desire to have a greenway across Johns Island,” said Orban.

Citizen’s Comments:

Rich Thomas, a resident of Betsy Kerrison Road, Johns Island, stated that he submitted a Freedom of Information Act to the Town of Kiawah Island about six or seven weeks ago regarding the promotion of Greenway activities, and received a reply that these activities had only started in January of this year. After receiving a request for clarification on the time period he was interested in, he received a reply that the Town would need additional time to gather the information. To date, he had received only a small number of emails and was extremely disappointed that he had not received anything else. He noted that he specifically asked for any documentation regarding Maurice Washington being contracted by KICA with financial support from the town.

Mayor Orban asked if he could give all of his points, in writing to Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker, who would be returning from South Africa in about a week.  “We’ll write you a written response that will hopefully be satisfactory,” said Orban.

Lastly, Butch Neil of the island’s beach patrol service thanked the Council for their proclamation of Beach Safety Week. “We are beach aware 365 days of the year, but we appreciate anything that brings attention to that,” he smiled.

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