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Sep 17 2010

Kiawah Town Council – September 7, 2010

Clearing up pet restraint ordinance language

In response to several requests, the Kiawah Council clarified the language in ordinance 2010-05: control of pets, to read as follows: “Owners may unleash their pets year round (in those areas designated as “Dog Use Areas” …) if the pets are controlled by voice command. This provision applies only during daylight hours, i.e. from one half hour after sunrise to one half hour before sunset. Dogs must be on leash at all times in the areas designated as “Year Round Dog Leash Areas” and dogs are prohibited from entering “Critical Habitat Areas” at any time. Owners may unleash their pets from November 1 through March 15 in the central “Seasonal Dog Leash Area” if the pets are controlled by voice command and the owners are in possession of a leash for use if requested by other beachgoers. This applies only during daylight hours, as defined above. “

Copies of a map depicting these areas are available online at www.kiawahisland.org. Council approved the ordinance unanimously.

Ordinance 2010-07: Resort Development Agreement

Mayor Wert opened the discussion on the ordinance to accept the Development Agreement with Kiawah Island Resort by assuring those in attendance that, once the Development Agreement (DA) is approved, the Council will sit down with the Resort and bring the issue of Night Heron Park to the table and “thoroughly vet both sides of the discussion and vet it with the public.” “I will make that promise,” said Wert.

On opening the ordinance for discussion, Councilman Charles Lipuma read through several items of note in the agreement, pointing out that exhibit 13.2 10B Residential doesn’t show about 20 acres and 10C Cougar Island doesn’t show about 4.5 acres; in exhibit 13.4 concerning R-3 (DA) guidelines, a note should be added covering “all required parking” as there is no mention of parking in the guidelines; exhibit 13.5 should include a sentence reading “the guest room density for a free-standing hotel shall conform with the RST-1 standard of eight guest rooms/acre.”; under exhibit 13.5 parcel 2 – West Beach Village – sub-parcels, sub-parcel 1, tennis parking is missing; there is a redundant, incorrect and unnumbered page in exhibit 13.6 – Ocean Course Parcels; the text on page 8 of Hotel/Guest Rooms should conform with expanded note 13, exhibit 13.5; and new exhibits should be added showing the locations of sub-parcels in parcels 3 and 6. “All of these are non-substantive which we can fix and can be added without holding up the process,” said Lipuma. As a point of clarification on Willet Island, Lipuma noted that while the DA lists 20 dwelling units for the area, the Rode Code article 12E-212 item 4F limits Willet Island to five dwelling units.

“We checked with County staff and they said since it was designated as 20 units since 1994, 20 units would be approved and accepted,” said the Mayor.

Next, Lipuma made four motions, each of which was turned down 3 – 2 with Lipuma and Steve Orban voting in favor and Al Burnaford, Harry McHugh and Mayor Wert voting against. The motions were as follows:

1) Prior to initiating development at West Beach and at East Beach, property owner shall submit an overall plan covering all properties at that location. This overall plan will show the location of all buildings, pools, parking lots, beach access points and beach parking, streets with traffic flow and interconnectivity with surrounding areas, bike paths, leisure trails and a landscape plan. Lipuma argued that having a complete plan would show how everything will fit together in the end, since it is recognized that construction in a given area may be staged over a period of months or years. Wert replied that the motion seemed redundant since the Resort, he said, will develop East Beach and West Beach as a chunk, not piece by piece.

2) All required parking for R-2 (DA) and R-3 (DA) shall be enclosed. Visitor parking may be screened with vegetation. Lipuma suggested that R-3 (DA) zoning and R-2 (DA) zoning both require enclosed, under-building parking in order to free up green space, eliminating outdoor parking lots and extensive areas of pavement. These required parking spaces would fit under buildings which must be raised to meet FEMA minimum elevation standards. Councilman McHugh argued that this would be a material change to the DA that would “move it [the DA] back into the morass it’s been in for the past four years,” and Councilman Burnaford noted that outdoors parking doesn’t count as open space and each area has a minimum requirement for open space.

3) Property owner shall provide an eight-foot-wide pedestrian beach access easement with boardwalk installed and 20 paved, connected parking spaces adjacent to or in close proximity to the beach access. The beach access, boardwalk, and paved parking area shall be conveyed to KICA. Mayor Wert argued that this was redundant as the agreement lists that 20 parking spaces within the overall parking plan for Parcel 2 (West Beach) will be available to the community. Councilman Orban replied that this would guarantee the 20 open spots for KICA members, and KICA would regulate and control parking for the benefit of the property owners.

4) Property owner shall provide on parcel 6C, Hotel Residual, an eight-foot-wide pedestrian beach access easement with boardwalk installed and 20 paved, connected parking spaces adjacent to or in close proximity to the beach access. The beach access, boardwalk and paved parking area shall be conveyed to KICA. Councilman Burnaford stated that he thought there already were a couple beach access points in that area, to which Lipuma replied that up to 171 dwelling units may be built on parcel 6C, which could have private and/or public beach access. Even so, there would be no beach parking for property owners on a 1300 – 1400 foot stretch of beach and there could be no beach access.

After the reading and failing of the above proposed motions, Councilman Orban thanked the public for their comments, and pointed out that the DA should be a win/win for both the Resort and the Town. “So far, it’s a great benefit to the Resort and minimal to the Town,” he said. “Leaving Night Heron out of the agreement is wrong and it should be included in an all-encompassing agreement.” He also stated that people need to think about what they want Kiawah to look like, and that the DA should do more to answer “what”, “where” and “when”; what they are going to build, where they’re going to place it and what is the time table. “This does not address these issues, so I can’t support it,” he stated.

“ In my opinion, it is less than a good deal,” said Lipuma, pointing out that the DA increases the density of West Beach Village and East Beach Village compared to the Town’s current article 12 zoning, allowing up to 340 guest rooms or 113 condos/dwelling units in West Beach in 16 buildings, each with seven dwelling units, exacerbating traffic in that area. Current zoning limits houses to 2 ½ stories and 40 feet, but the new zoning allows for up to 3 ½ stories and 55-foot-tall buildings, except for Mingo Point. These higher buildings would be at or above the treetops. There could also be a 175 guest room wing on the Sanctuary Hotel, plus 155, three-bedroom condos in 22, seven dwelling unit buildings.“One of the first questions I asked is ‘What does the Town get in return for this DA?’ and I say ‘Not much.’ I personally take little comfort in locking up the Town for ten years with a (one sided) development agreement.”

Councilman McHugh remarked that, in his opinion, it’s in the Town’s best interest to have a world-class resort on the island, “and as I look at the work the Resort has done, they reinforce that position. As a member of Town Council, I don’t think they should achieve that goal without making this a world class residential community, as well.” Although he hoped that there would be a clear path made by the community for him to follow on this issue, McHugh stated that he hasn’t seen it, but he has heard that the West Beach people would really like the development process to begin.

Lastly, Mayor Wert stated that the Town has “been more transparent with this agreement than any agreement this town has ever made,” pointing out the four information sessions and three webinars held by the Town. He remarked that he knows there are questions about the effect this will have to the Town’s transition formula, and in a worst-case scenario, buildout could go from 78% to 73%. However, in his 12 years of living on the island, Wert stated that, “There has never been a covenant passed by residents which KRA vetoed.” He also asked that residents look into their soul and really ask themselves what the resort has done to harm the island, except to improve it by building The Sanctuary and the many award-winning clubhouses and golf courses. “My property value has certainly gone up,” he pointed out. As for the balance of the agreement, the Mayor stated that he feels it is a fair development agreement. “We can do a plus and minus chart, but I grew up when making money wasn’t a dirty word as long as it was done ethically and in balance,” said Wert. “I think that this balance is a good feel for the Town. We can always find nits, but this is a good opportunity for the Town to move forward.”

First reading of the ordinance to adopt the Development Agreement passed 3-2, with Councilmen Lipuma and Orban voting against it.

Ordinance 2010-08: amendment to the 2010/11 Budget

Mayor Wert noted that the amendment was passed unanimously by the Ways and Means Committee earlier that week, and Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker read through the changes, noting that a majority of change will go toward community outreach ($121,000 to area non-profits) and $100,000 will go to the Kiawah Conservancy for the purchase of land for conservation. Other amounts $3,000 to add “document imaging costs” to the budget, and $4,676 toward computer and software maintenance. A public hearing will be held before the second reading of this ordinance at 1:45 p.m. on October 5, just before The October Town Council meeting. First reading was approved unanimously.

Ordinance 2010-09: Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan

“This ordinance is to amend Article 12 [zoning ordinance] and to amend the Comprehensive Plan to adjust for the Development Agreement,” said Mayor Wert. “We’re doing this because we won’t pass this for a second reading unless the Development Agreement passes second reading, and if we do pass it, then we’ll have a second reading of this.” The amendment was approved unanimously.

Arts Council annual report

Councilman Lipuma presented the Arts Council’s 6th annual report, covering the past year of Arts Council activities. Reading from the summary at the beginning of the report, Lipuma noted that the Council’s budget had been reduced from $70,000 from the previous $100,000, but that amount was supplemented with $50,000 of state accommodations tax events. 36 events were produced and the season ended at 95% of the budget.

Mayor Wert noted that the report itself is an incredible piece of work and Council specifically thanked Town Staff member Stephanie Braswell for her hard work on the layout, as well as the board of the Arts Council.

Aerial photography bid

Town Administrator Rucker recommended that the Town accept a bid for aerial photography of the island from Kucera International, Inc, which bid $23,850 to include all color photography, infrared, printouts and shapefiles. Rucker also noted that there is a clause in the contract stating that if the work doesn’t meet the Town’s standards, that it will be redone at no cost to the Town. Mayor Wert remarked that these photos are used by the Town, as well as by DHEC and KICA for various issues, as well as the Resort as they continue planning for the PGA. Normally, the cost of this process would be shared with KICA, but the Community Association did not budget for it this year, and the cost, said Wert, used to be about two times as much. A motion was made to approve $25,000 for Kucera International, Inc to handle the project. Council approved unanimously.

Kiawah Parkway bridge bank stabilization bid

Councilman Steve Orban has been working to stabilize the bank of the outbound-side of the Kiawah Parkway bridge which has eroded about 100 feet on one side and 75 feet on the other. After going out for bids to do a simple stabilization design of baskets filled with stones along the bank with fill and planting along the top, the Ways and Means Committee recommended Three Oaks Construction at $43,800. Council approved awarding the project to Three Oaks for an amount not to exceed $50,000 unanimously.

Greenbelt funds

Mayor Wert noted that the town has received $120,361 in Greenbelt funds and, while they considered joining their funds with Seabrook to buy an area known as Parcel 29 located across from Freshfields and across from the sign just before going on to Seabrook, Wert stated that they had looked into other projects on the island and found three places in dire need of repair: the fishing dock on Beachwalker Drive which is in need of guard rails, the small parking area and path next to the Kiawah Parkway bridge is in need of upgrading, and extending the bike path at the end of Beachwalker Drive where it enters Beachwalker Park with pervious material. The three projects were combined and are currently out for bids. Council unanimously approved a motion to pursue these projects with Greenbelt funds.

Extending recycling into the Parkside regime

Councilman McHugh reported that, while they are still working on creating a recycling method that will work for all of the regimes, a trial with the Parkside regime is going well and involves the use of alternative collection devices which only one company picks up: Carolina Waste Recycling. “We hope to have success with Parkside and move the program to other regimes so we can have 100% recycling on the island,” said McHugh. “It may not be most economical, but we either move forward or we don’t.” The motion to approve recycling and garbage service within the Parkside regime at an annual cost not to exceed $15,960 was approved unanimously.

Charleston Symphony Orchestra League performance

Mayor Wert asked that the ATAX committee look into using State accommodations tax funds to bring in 13 musicians from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra League to give a performance at the Freshfields Village Green on October 30, following the annual Kiawah Island House Tour.

Roads report

Councilman Al Burnaford remarked on the recent turning down by Charleston County Council of the Sea Islands Greenway project, but noted that the project is not dead and there are still efforts to get it into the long range improvement plan. “It was a blow, it it’s not fatal,” said Burnaford. “We’re nothing if not resilient,” the Mayor smiled.

Town Administrator’s report

Tumiko Rucker reported that the Town’s annual audit is complete and they will hopefully receive a review at the October 5 Council meeting. On a recycling note, Fennel Container delivered all of the 35-gallon recycling containers for back door recycling service before Labor Day and the service will be year-round. In terms of the upcoming PGA, those with questions should visit the website www.pga2012.com. As for the power outage a little over a month ago, Rucker reported that she met with Berkeley Electric and was shown that the old Santee power line servicing the islands has been scheduled to be replaced for a couple of years and is currently waiting its turn. Should another power outage occur, though, Berkeley Electric will contact the Town Administrator and alert them as to the fact of the outage, the cause (if known) and the estimated resolve time frame. In order to disperse this info to the island residents, however, Rucker encouraged everyone to have a land line installed in their home with a corded phone, and to have their cell phone number listed with the Town’s Code Red service.

Those orange markers near the gate

Councilman Orban noted that the orange markers near the front gate of Kiawah are there because cables are being prepared to be pulled from Freshfields to the first gate through conduits adjacent to the bike path. No pavement will be dug up during this process, but some trucks will be parked on the bikepath during the project, which should be completely done by Christmas.

Mayor’s report

Mayor Wert noted that filing for elections has begun and will close on October 8. To file to run for Councilmember, the cost is $25, and to run for Mayor is $50. The Mayor reiterated his personal commitment to meet with the Resort to discuss Night Heron Park and truly vet to the public the different options and alternatives. He also noted that Labor Day was a busy day for the island, with some businesses stating that it was their busiest Labor Day in 15 years. Lastly, Wert confirmed the rumor about a mugging around 11 p.m. at the Station in Freshfields Village several days ago, and urged residents and guests to be careful about where they go and what they do at night when no one else is around. “Unfortunately, we on Kiawah have become enamored with the idea that we live in a crime-free zone, but today there is no thing as crime-free zone,” reminded Wert.

Citizens comments

Resident Greg Vanderwerker tuned in a list of questions he has regarding the Development Agreement, pointing out that in the DA, it’s stated that the Agreement is consistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use, but that hasn’t occurred, and noted that he hadn’t seen a public hearing announced for the Comprehensive Plan or the zoning changes. He also asked if changes in the Development Agreement would be given a public hearing.

Resident Wendy Kulick stated that, though she trusts the word of Bill Goodwin and Roger Warren of the Resort, she is concerned that if something happens to one or both of them that any of their stated good intentions might not be held by their replacements, and encouraged any verbal agreements to be put on paper. She also stated that a number of people have submitted comments during the Development Agreement public hearings, but hasn’t seen the information distributed to council members for consideration. “We all stand to gain from a good Development Agreement,” she said. “Strengthen it, make it a good document, make it a win/win.”

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