Second town biologist to stay with Town
Although the issue of whether or not to continue to employ a second town biologist was not originally included on the day’s agenda, a motion was made to add it soon after discussions began. Mayor William Wert gave a brief history on the issue, noting that the cost for a second town biologist was originally intended to be split between the Town and the Nature Conservancy when the new biologist, Aaron Givens, was hired two years ago. However, due to budgetary issues, the Conservancy could no longer pay their portion and the Town took on the full cost of employment.
“When it was determined that perhaps we should not continue to employ a second town biologist because of budget issues, it become clear that this was not a popular decision,” said Mayor Wert. “With that in mind, I would like to propose that we retain the town’s second biologist on payroll.”
Following a brief discussion on the job description of a second town biologist and a reminder from Councilman Harry McHugh that the Environmental Committee had recommended to council that the job position be retained, the Council voted unanimously to keep the position of a second town biologist, though the position will be under review again when the 2011/2012 budget is due in June.
Second reading of 2010-06: Outdoor grilling
Council unanimously approved second reading of an ordinance allowing for the use of built-in outdoor electric grills in any multi-story family structure completed after January 1, 2007, as long as certain conditions are met.
Second reading of 2010-10: comprehensive plan
Council approved second reading unanimously.
Resolution 2010-02: Kiawah supports 526 extension
“As most of you know, Kiawah has been working with the Seabrook Island Road Committee, SIPOA representatives and the Seabrook Town Council regarding the extension of I-526 and the Sea Islands Greenway,” said Councilman Al Burnaford, noting that Seabrook has passed a resolution supporting the building of I-526 as long as it is built in conjunction with the Greenway. In light of that, Burnaford read a resolution which states that “the Town of Kiawah Island supports the I-526 Extension along any route with an interchange on Johns Island determined most reasonable by Charleston County and SC Department of Transportation: recognizing that the I-526 Extension does not replace but supplements the need for a cross-island limited access road on Johns Island.”
Councilman Orban asked if this resolution had been discussed with the Kiawah Island community, and Burnaford reminded him that at several public hearings and meetings over the past few years, Kiawah Island residents in particular had shown strong support for the building of the 526 extension. Wert also reminded Orban that public hearings are not required to be held before the passing of a resolution.
Council approved the resolution unanimously.
Tidal trails franchise agreement
Tidal Trails, which operates in front of the Sandcastle Community Center and provides rentals of beach products including floats, body boards, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, sea kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks, requested a renewal of their franchise agreement so that it would be extended another two years to December 31, 2013. Council approved the franchise agreement unanimously.
Beach franchise agreement
While the current contract between the Town and Island Beach Services (IBS) is set to expire on December 31, 2010, the expiration is part of a three year procurement, which means that the town contracted the company for three years with a contingency that the contract must be renewed the second and third year of the contract so that if, for some reason, the town is dissatisfied with their service, the contract can be terminated. This renewal is the second in Island Beach Services three year agreement, and while the town has been satisfied with their service, the Resort has requested that they be allowed to bid for the non-exclusive beach franchise agreement.
“IBS has done a great job, and our beach service is very important to us,” said Orban, suggesting that the contract be renewed until the end of the three year procurement.
Mayor Wert argued that it would be fiscally irresponsible not to go out for bids and pick the best bid for the job, and the contract does not prevent them from doing so.
Council voted four to one to renew the contract with IBS, with Mayor Wert voting against.
Later, during citizen’s comments, Roger Warren of Kiawah Island Resort, reminded Council that when the Resort had been contracted to provide beach services that a portion of their time had been taken from their contract, as well as an arbitrary portion of their coverage area. “Though I appreciate the reasoning behind this vote, it needs to be consistent and applied fairly and equally,” said Warren. “This was inconsistent with what you did last time and we would have appreciated, at that point, the consideration that you gave another vendor today and would appreciate your reconsideration.”
Butch Neal, owner of IBS, also commented during citizen’s comments, thanking the town for renewing his contract and noting his tremendous admiration for the Town and the Council. “I started Island Beach Services here in 1986, and I’ve spent so much time here that this beach feels like one of my children,” said Neal. “I will continue to take care of the beach with upmost regard for the Resort and citizens.”
Coastal Hydropower contract renewal
Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker read a recommendation to extend the Town’s agreement with Coastal Hydropower to continue services through December 31, 2011, at the agreed upon price of $6890.06 per year. While the company requested a 5% increase as part of their contract renewal, the increase was not recommended for inclusion in the renewal.
Council approved the one-year contract extension, without the 5% increase, unanimously.
Councilman Charles Lipuma was happy to report that the strings performance at Holy Spirit Catholic Church with Yuriy Bekker was outstanding, with a packed house consisting of more than 900 attendees. He encouraged everyone to grab their tickets for the December 12 performance of Gift of the Magi with Chamber Music Charleston, and noted that the Council is hoping to extend their venues to Seabrook Island, which offered the use of their new clubhouse at no cost to the Town. “We would probably limit it to one or two events per year, but the space is magnificent, akin to a ballroom at The Sanctuary,” said Lipuma.
Councilman Orban noted that the construction work shoring up the erosion at the base of the Kiawah Island Parkway bridge should be wrapping up in the next couple of weeks. The project will add gabion, or cages filled with soil and/or sand, to the sides of the bridge, along with additional fill and plantings.
“Kiawah is pretty well recognized as an environmental gem on the east coast,” said Councilman McHugh, noting how so many of the island entities work together to achieve this recognition. Most recently, said McHugh, the Resort and the Conservancy have gotten together to construct a sign on the island stating the work and goals of the Conservancy. He also noted that the Town has an opportunity to do a reptile study on the island in conjunction with the College of Charleston, particularly studying glass snakes and the impact of development in their habitats. Lastly, McHugh reported that part of the Resort’s planning process for the PGA currently involves insuring that as little impact as possible is made on sand dunes and near -shore and shore birds during the golf tournament. “It’s great how all these organizations are focused on preserving the environment,” said McHugh.
Councilman Burnaford thanked Dr. Paul Roberts, the head of the Kiawah Island Roads Committee, for the great work he has done so far with the SCDOT, the County and the City. “There’s a rumor that the Greenway and 526 are dead,” said Burnaford, “But most residents of Kiawah are for it and we’re still pursuing contracts and working hard on it. In my opinion, neither of them are a dead issue.”
Town Administrator’s report
Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker reported that, now that the Comprehensive Plan has been approved, she will begin creating a Comprehensive Plan report card beginning in January which will provide updates on what the town is doing to achieve the plan’s objectives. Rucker also noted that the town’s plans to use the Green Belt funds to restore certain natural areas around the island, such as a pond fishing dock and railing, received approval and recommendation from both the Parks and Recreation Department, as well as the County Council Finance Committee, and they are waiting to hear back from County Council. Lastly, Rucker noted that the Council Retreat, which is held every two years after the municipal elections, will be held on January 10.
Mayor Wert reminded those in attendance that the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Sanctuary would be held at 6 p.m. that night, and pointed out that the flag in front of Town Hall was at half staff in rememberance of Pearl Harbor Day. He also noted that the Town elections were that day and encouraged anyone who had not voted yet to go cast their ballot. Lastly, he stated that he like to wish everyone a safe and sane holiday season. “Remember all of those who live not tOo far from here who are not as fortunate, and I ask that if you can give, please consider it. We’re all very fortunate to live where we are, so keep that in mind.”
Resident Marilyn Blizzard stated how happy she was to “see smiles on so many of your faces in regards to keeping the second town biologist, Aaron Givens. We are a gem of an island, but an environmental gem was what was reflected by all who phoned and emailed you. Please never forget that this island has a treasure in its ecosystem, and that is fragile.” She thanked the Town Council for listening to public comment, “Your wisdom today was very pleasing,” she smiled.
All members of the Council wished everyone happy holidays and safe travels.