Aug 20 2010

Kiawah Town Council – August 3, 2010

Ordinance 2010-05: Dog leash law

Before voting on the second reading of ordinance 2010-05, which allows owners to unleash their pets from November 1 – March 15 along most of the beach area (except critical habitat areas) during daylight hours as long as they’re under voice command, Mayor Wert read from two emails formally objecting the proposed changes. Wert read the major points of objection from the emails and noted that they would be entered into the record. A letter from Buzz Waltman of the KICA Safety and Security Committee was also included in the record, strongly supporting the new ordinance change, pointing out that most incidents with dogs are caused by bad owners, “but you can’t leash bad owners,” wrote Waltman.

Councilman McHugh noted that new signs at the beach boardwalk areas will display the new off-leash areas and hours for dog owners. Council approved the new ordinance unanimously.

Kiawah Island Voting Location

The idea of moving the Kiawah Island voting location from the fire station to Town Hall was brought up during the July Council meeting, and in the interim the Election Commission looked into the positives and negatives of switching locations. While the climate in Town Hall would be more agreeable, it was determined that parking would be an issue, especially during primary and town elections, and the Town Hall might not be able to handle the number of people waiting to vote. Since the Election Commission’s study was inconclusive, it was decided to leave the voting election at the fire station.

MASC achievement award video

Council showed a short, five minute video which was created as part of an award from the Municipal Assocation of South Carolina (MASC) in the Public Works category for the excellent job done on the new Kiawah Island Parkway and bike path. The video highlighted how the construction protected the ecosystem with low-impact on the salt water marsh, and provides residents with a means of using alternative transportation to get from one island to the other and to the Freshfields Village Shopping Center. The video featured Council members Steve Orban and Charlie Lipuma, as well as Mayor Wert and residents Marilyn and John Olson, and will be shown to other municipalities in order to encourage similar development. The award included the addition of the town’s name to a Public Works Award

“Congrats to Tumiko [Rucker] for submitting this and making it happen, and congrats on all in the video,” said Mayor Wert.

Considering grills in Kiawah condos

While grills are currently not allowed on multi-family unit decks on Kiawah Island, the new Maritime condos have included electric grills on their balconies, mainly because the ordinance restricting the grills is not included under the Town Code’s building or zoning section, but rather under “public safety”, so it was missed by the reviewing agency. The grills were built according to the international building and fire codes used by County Council and by rote, Kiawah Island, so the town will either have to make an exception for the Maritime units, or change the Town Code to allow grills on new condos that meet international fire and building codes. Town Attorney Dennis Rhoad pointed out that grills were originally restricted under public safety when renters were lighting charcoal grills on the decks of multi-family units which were almost entirely constructed of wood. Since the Maritime grills are electric, surrounded by fire-rated material and located on a concrete-frame building, Rhoad felt that the same public safety concern is no longer there. Council directed Rhoad to look into constructing the wording to change the Town Code to allow for electric grills in new structures that meet both international building code and fire code.

TOKI/KIGR development agreement

Mayor Wert stated that three informal meetings had been scheduled to discuss the new development agreement between the Town of Kiawah Island and the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, as well as two webinars for KICA members the following week.

“It’s still a work in progress and there might be some minor changes to what you see posted,” said Wert. “But after four years, it’s all, hopefully, coming to a head.”

Public hearings on the agreement are scheduled for Wednesday, September 1 at 2 p.m. at Town Hall, and September 30 at 10 a.m. at Town Hall.

Charitable contributions

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the Town of Kiawah Island determined not to allocate any funds for charitable contributions as they were uncertain whether the funds would be available that year. However, as revenues exceeded expenses for the 2009/10 fiscal year, the Ways and Means Committee recommended that the Town restore $69,000 to charitable contributions and reserve $152,000 for possible future contributions to the Kiawah Conservancy ($100,000 for land purchase use only), the Charleston Symphony Orchestra ($50,000 dependent on review of the CSO budget) and to the Johns Island Library ($2,000 for the Rosetta Stone English program). The $69,000 was recommended for distribution to the Charleston Triathalon Club for the annual Kiawah Island Marathon ($3,000), Rural Mission ($15,000), Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy ($4,000), Barrier Island Free Medical Clinic ($15,000), Our Lady of Mercy Outreach ($15,000), Habitat for Humanity ($15,000) and Backpack Buddies ($2,000). Backpack Buddies, Mayor Wert pointed out, is a program which provides food to area children who don’t have food to eat on weekends.

Council approved the $69,000 in contributions unanimously.

Public Safety report

Council member Steve Orban stated that the Public Safety committee met on July 20 and discussed the issue of grilling on decks and the fact that fire alarm reports have been down on the island. Also, the St. Johns Fire Department has moved to the consolidated 911 Center and Orban reminded everyone to call 911 for all emergencies, not the front gate. “They will dispatch fire, EMS, police, whatever you need,” said Orban. Finally, Orban stated that they reviewed the performance of the beach patrol and “they seem to be doing a good job,” said Orban. “They’re patrolling even the far end of the beach and we’re happy with our contractor.”

Environmental report

Council member Harry McHugh gave kudos to the Environmental Committee staff for the new wildlife site, which is already up to 3800 hits a month. In regards to the town’s ponds, McHugh noted that there was an issue with pond 41 at the 13th hole of Turtle Point where 2500 pounds of were fish killed, possibly due to toxic algae. “Interestingly, it only affected that one lagoon,” said McHugh. “The DNR and our own wildlife people are studying it to confirm.” Secondly, five alligators have been found dead on the island and autopsies have shown that it was due to a very high lead count. It is believed that some of the alligators are eating entire crab traps and they are looking into the possibility of stopping crabbing in the lagoons, “but before we do something that drastic, we’ll confirm that it’s the cause,” said McHugh.

On the garbage side, Council member McHugh noted that they are gradually getting to the point where recycling is available to all residential groups. The only remaining area where there is no preferred solution is in some regimes, but a test site with multiple collection devices has been installed at Park Side and it seems to be doing well, so far. McHugh stated that there has been a 10% increase in recycling on the island and an almost equal decrease in garbage. “We march forward in our maintenance project,” he smiled.

Lastly, McHugh noted that some concern has been brought up about rats on the island. “ I’ve been assured it’s not an epidemic, but rather the result of heat and rats looking for cooler place to hang out,” said McHugh, “and there’s no solution to this that central government can provide. If rats are in your home, it’s up to you to find ways to make your home rat-impenetrable.”

Town Administrator’s report

Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker stated that about 300 residents have completed the Town Notes survey and 95% indicated that they read the Town Notes and find them helpful, “so we’ll work on improving and developing ways to bring about changes,” said Rucker. She then reported that the Town Comprehensive Plan is under review, and the Planning Commission sub-committee has worked exhaustedly on updating the document. “It will carry us through the next several years,” said Rucker. Rucker also thanked the Council for allowing to her and treasurer Kenneth Gunnells to participate in the Association of Public Treasurers, which recently held their annual conference in Charleston. “Folks think that Kiawah is the best place next to heaven,” Rucker smiled. Lastly, Rucker noted that the town has requested $50,000 for the bank erosion stabilization project along the Kiawah Island Parkway with work to begin after Labor Day.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Wert stated that, following a press conference about the upcoming PGA tour and ticket availability, the best way to get tickets is to visit and purchase them online. Secondly, the Mayor noted that two stolen cars have been found parked in the Town Hall parking lot. “I don’t know if it’s part of our recycling effort, but suddenly we’re a repository for stolen cars,” Wert laughed.

Citizen’s Comments

Resident Wendy Kulick stated that ,“I would first like to commend the Mayor and Council for listening to the numerous requests to allow for webinars so property owners who are away for the summer to participate interactively with Council regarding the proposed Development Agreement between the Town and the Resort,” said Kulick before suggesting that the town prepare an executive summary of the Resort development agreement for general distribution, and that additional public information meetings be held on the development agreement. She also noted that,” In 2005, more than 500 property owners urged the Mayor and Town Council not to rush to sign the agreement with KRA until the Town was sure all i’s had been dotted and all t’s crossed. Despite the volume of requests, the Town stuck to its original schedule. Since then we have had three instances of problems which could have been avoided had the Town not rushed to sign that agreement.” The instances included a concern over boat storage on tje island, property owners’ concerns about KRA not agreeing to any property being transferred to KICA for future amenities, and KRA’s promise for “permanent reservation” in the 1994 DA with the Town on Captain Sam’s Smit, and to convey CSS to KICA by quit claim deed by January 1, 2008. And now we face the possibility of 50 homes there and damage to wildlife. “I therefore urge Town Council to extend the review process for approval of this DA; there need be no rush to judgment. We heard the Mayor say yesterday that our input is important. Please demonstrate that by allowing time to gather as much input as possible.”

Resident Sandy Tedesco thanked the Council for taking an interest in the Backpack Buddy program, noting that their contribution will make all the difference in sponsoring a Johns Island school.

In regards to the new bike path, resident Micky Whitlock stated that he has observed that cyclists tend to ride rather rapidly and feels that it would be beneficial if they could let walkers and slower cyclists know when they are approaching. “I’ll often take a bell with me when biking to notify people. I would like to propose that every bike on the island have something similar to this,” he said, holding up a small bike bell. “ This could help eliminate the problem.”

Lastly, he asked that the town look into a policy of limiting the number of rental umbrellas on the beach. Often, 40 or 50 umbrellas will be up and only five or six people will be renting them and it takes up a lot of space on the beach.

Resident Fran Wermuth thanked the town for passing ordinance 2010-05. “Thank you for taking the time to listen to us and revising the ordinance.”

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