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May 09 2012

Kiawah Town Council – May 1 , 2012


The Kiawah Island Town Council discussed their budget for 2013 at their recent meeting.

Citizen’s Presentations

Amanda Mole of the Kiawah Architectural Review Board (ARB) gave a description regarding the jurisdiction of the ARB in terms of dune walkovers, noting that the walkovers will still follow ARB guidelines up to) 40 year setback line, at which point the portion that is seaward must meet the requirements of SC ADC 30-13. “We are, the ARB and the Town, working to make reviewing the boardwalks simpler,” said Mole.

Dr. Kenneth Oberheu spoke regarding the dune walkovers ordinance (2012-02), noting that he feels the ordinance still needs some fine tuning as he feels it doesn’t address walkovers covered with sand and needs a better definition of a damaged dune. “A damaged dune is hard to identify,” he said. He also pointed out that the ordinance should include some language preventing bicycles and roller skates from using walkovers.

He asked that Councilmember Greg VanDerwerker give a better definition of what makes a walkover compliant and what can be considered a “damaged dune.”

Dr. Oberheu also noted that he didn’t feel that mandating that all walkways be extended over the primary dune was legal and might be prohibited by federal law, stating that the Town Attorney should explain the details of ex post facto law.

You’re trying to pass an ordinance, in which I was compliant before, that would make me not compliant,” he said. “If we could get an idea of the intent, that would help clear up some of the confusion.”

Lastly, he said that the Council has, in a way, commended his walkway going over the dune by using an image of it on the Town website to show how beautiful the beach is.

Ordinance 2012 – 01: Short term rental regulations

The Town Council discussed the second reading of the short term rental regulations ordinance, which relocates, renames, and amends the current sections of the Town Code relating to the regulation of residential property as short term rentals. Basically, the ordinance deletes from Article 4, and renames and relocates: Article 4, Finance and Taxation, Chapter 8, Short Term Rental Permit, Sections 4-801, 4-802, 4-803, and 4-804.

Councilmember Fran Wermuth stated that she had a number of issues with the ordinance, asking if any sections were deleted entirely from the Town Code, and why there were two different versions of the short term rental rules. Councilmember Al Burnaford pointed out that the condensed version was for display in rental units while the more descriptive version was for rental unit managers and owners. Overall, he noted, there were very few changes. The sections were just being rearranged so that everything relating to short term rentals rules were located in the same place.

Regarding the different versions of the rules, Wermuth stated that “If we want them [renters] to abide by the rules, they need to know what the rules are,” saying that the rules should be as complete in one area as they are in another.

The Council briefly discussed Wermuth’s objections, with Mayor Steve Orban noting that, while they would like to write oridances that cover every contingency, they have these rules in place and will adjust them as needed.

Council approve the second reading 4 to 1, with Wermuth objecting.

Second reading of Ordinance 2012-02: Dune Walkovers

Mayor Orban stated that this ordinance has been working on since January of this year and the second reading was not held during the last meeting as several Councilmembers were out of town during the last meeting.

I approve of this ordinance,” said Orban. “It meets the spirit of the OCRM regulations and it also meets the requirements of our own ordinances. So unless we change our own ordinances, we need to do something about [dune] walkovers that are not in compliance today.”

Councilmember VanDerwerker asked the Town Attorney, Sally Rhoad, if she was comfortable with the ordinance and if it suits all parties. She replied that she is comfortable with it and that it is compliant with the Town’s beach management plans.

Separately, both Councilmembers VanDerwerker and Charles Lipuma requested that, while the ordinance gives up to 12 months for property owners to bring their dune walkovers into compliance, they felt that the time span should be expanded to 24 months. Councilmember Burnaford took it a step further, requesting that the time be extended to 36 months, or within six months of the sale of the property, but the motion was not seconded. Lipuma seconded VanDerwerker’s motion to increase the time to 24 months and the Council voted 4 to 1, with Burnaford objecting, to amend the ordinance.

The Council briefly discussed what constitutes the destruction of a dune, and VanDerwerker noted that if a boardwalk ends on an active dune, then whoever walks off the end of it into the active dune is destroying it, which is an actionable offense. If the boardwalk is not being used, then the owner would not be fined for destruction of a dune until damage occurs. And damage, he noted, could either be people walking through the dune, or the walkover interfering with the growth of an accumulating dune. Mayor Orban noted that it might be better to remove the walkover altogether if it wasn’t being used at all. Orban also noted that these rules have been on the books since 1993 and are updated every five years to coincide with the update of the OCRM’s beach management act.

The amended ordinance passed second reading 3 to 2, with Councilmembers Burnaford and Wermuth objecting.

Town Website Redesign

While the Ways and Means Committee discussed the expenditure of $12,400 from the FY2013 budget for the redesign of the Town website, Councilmember Wermuth objected, stating that the Communications Committee had not yet had a chance to vet the proposal. The Mayor and Councilmember Lipuma agreed to give the Communications Committee time to review the proposal, and in the meantime, Lipuma proposed that the amount be moved from the computer software budget area to contingency.

Councilmember Burnaford noted that the motion is not approving the expenditure of the amount, just moving the funds from one budget area to another.

Councilmember Wermuth explained that they Communications Committee would review the proposal during the next meeting and come back to the Council with their vote on the expenditure by the next Council meeting.

The Council approved the move of $12,400 from the budget area of computer software to contingency 4 to 1, with Burnaford voting against.

First reading of Oridnance 2012-04: FY2013 Budget

Councilmember Lipuma reported that the Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend approval of the budget and in doing so, went through the notable changes. Councilmember Wermuth stated that the request for a new Town Code Enforcement officer in the budget should include appropriate justification and a job description. Lipuma noted that, while a new Code Enforcement officer was written into the budget, it was not yet an expenditure, and they would add a job description should they begin looking for a third officer.

Councilmember Wermuth stated that there were a number of times that did not have full justification and she felt that should be provided as they moved forward.

Council approved unanimously the first reading of the budget unanimously, with Wermuth approving “with frustration.”

Resolution 2012 – 03: Project Impact Plan

Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker read the resolution, which states that the Council for the Town of Kiawah Island adopts the revised 2012-2013 Charleston Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. The Town has adopted the annually revised plan every year since 1999, and by adhering to the updates, the Town is able to maintain its current Community Rating System level, as well as incorporate new achievements and new goals.

Councilmember Wermuth asked why the priority level for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) was so low (4 on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being lowest), and Orban replied that the items were rated according to the priority levels given by FEMA.

Rucker also noted that their adherence to these updates helped maintain the Town’s federal flood insurance discounts.

Council voted to approve the resolution unanimously.

Front Office Redesign

Rucker then read a proposal to redesign the front office in Town Hall in an amount not to exceed $9,300. Rucker noted that the request was made because of the extensive duties required of the Town Administrative Assistant, and the new space would allow the assistant a degree of additional privacy as well as more work space. The changes would also make the entrance to the Town offices ADA compliant, and would add additional storage for the Support Services II office. The work would be completed by Wulbern-Koval Co.

Councilmember Wermuth asked why the Administrative Assistant needed to have more privacy when it was that person’s job to greet the public for the Town.

Councilmember Lipuma replied that the redesign was thoughtfully designed with glass panels and a full view of anyone coming through the entryway to the Town office, and would just allow the assistant a little more privacy to complete the various projects required by the Administrative Assistant’s job description.

Council approved the expenditure 4 to 1, with Wermuth objecting.

External Affairs Report – none

Communications Committee Report – none

Arts Council Report

Councilmember Lipuma reported that the Prelude to Piccolo performance was well done, with a formidable Dixieland Jazz group that left the crowd clapping to “When the Saints Go Marching In” as they left for the evening. The Art Council season closed with this performance, with the exception of a festival in June.

Town Administrator’s Report

Town Administrator Rucker said that they are looking forward to updating the new severe weather warning system, which will alert residents signed up to the system via text, email, or phone call if severe weather such as strong storms or tornadoes are approaching the area.

Regarding a resident’s request concerning increased Comcast service on the island, Rucker confirmed that a request for construction has been put in and they hope to have service rolled out to the Summer Islands and some roads leading up to those areas post haste.

Additionally, the Town staff is working with AT&T to find out more regarding their roll out schedule for the expansion of their Uverse service.

Another project that the Town has been wworking on for several months is the solid waste collection service. The Town staff recently received comments and bidding from interested firms, and three firms have expressed an interest. They hope to have competitive bids from all three soon.

Rucker was also happy to report that the Kiawah Resident Exchange, the online virtual email notification system, has 275 registered users so far. Additionally, the Kiawah Merchant Plaza, or business directory, is now available on the Town website and provides the names and contact information for businesses such as plumbers and electricians licensed to do business on the island.

Regarding improvements along Beachwalker Drive, the Greenery landscaping company is currently conducting their annual spring change-out, which includes clearing out excessive vines and raising the clearance of several trees. The company will also be adding new plantings and, for the first time, some flower beds. Rucker noted that the Inlet Cove property owners are very excited and thankful for this investment to the drive, and noted that there will be a little noise during business hours as the project is completed. At the same time, the improvement work to the fishing pier is in full swing and should be completed soon.

Lastly, Rucker thanked all of the property owners who attended the Great American Clean Up effort conducted by the Town on April 27. Volunteers collected more than 12 bags of trash and 15 bags of recycling. At the Town Hall, four pallets of ewaste were collected for recycling and more than a ton of paper was recycled.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Orban reported on the Maybank Highway Improvement meeting held at Haut Gap Middle School this past April 17. The improvement plans included two options: Alternative A, which consists of widening Maybank Highway, and Alternative B, which is the pitchfork solution. The County Administrator discussed both solutions and comments concerning the two options were due back to the county by May 2. “I have my own bias, I like Alternative A, but that’s my personal opinion,” said Orban.

Secondly, the Mayor stated that the Town is still looking for an elections officer. A recent candidate chose not to accept the position, so applications are being accepted at Town Hall. “It’s not a heavy duty task,” said Orban, noting that the officer will have to go through some training for it – three days over an 18 month period. The job would only need to be done one day a year. If no one volunteers, however, an alternative would be to turn the Town elections over to the county.

Regarding elections, Orban also noted that Town elections are coming up in December and registration begins in early October.

Lastly, the Town received a letter from Charleston County Parks and Recreation, asking them to support National Beach Safety Week from May 21 – 28. Mayor Orban read the proclamation and allowed and signed it.


The Town received three letters of importance over the past month. One letter was a response from the Kiawah Conservancy to an earlier letter saying that $50,000 of the upcoming budget has been set aside for their organization.

A second was received from Roper St. Francis asking the Town to reconsider their request to support their helicopter landing pad on the hospital roof, but Orban noted that the Town was unable to support the project financially.

Lastly, a letter from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra was received requesting an increase in the Town’s annual contribution, but the Council decided to leave their donation amount at $50,000 due to the large number of donation requests this year.

Citizen comments

Island resident Wendy Kulick thanked the Council for their responsiveness to questions regarding next year’s budget, and looked forward to receiving their replies. She also asked about the Town’s development agreement from 2005 with the KRA. “This aspect relates to the portion where the KRA acknowledges, going forward, that the KRA will pay for any above ground structures relating to utilities,” she explained, noting that she believes a pump station was added at Indigo and was curious as to whether the KRA reimbursed them for that utility.

Dr. Oberheu also spoke, stating that he was “rather disappointed” in the Town’s decision to pass the oridnance for dune walkovers today, and had hoped that the Council would listen to some reasonable ways to come to a better conclusion. He also asked if the Town would put up signs telling people not to walk through noncompliant walkways until the situation was remedied. Lastly, he wondered if the town considered him a property owner or a pedestrian if he walked over a dune to get to a noncompliant walkover. “I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t look into this further,” he said in closingl

Council comments

There was some discussion regarding an answer to Dr. Oberheu’s question regarding the dune walkovers, but it was decided that the information should be provided by the Town Attorney.

Councilmember Burnaford also commented on the roads, stating that both of the Maybank Highway Improvements alternatives did not have anything to do with the extension of I-526. He did note that, when he asked about the information used to determine the amount of projected traffic onto Johns Island, the count was less than half of that provided by the Council of Goverments (COG). “In my opinion, the widening and/or pitchfork does not handle the amount of traffic the COG predicts, which to me means it won’t be able to handle the traffic,” said Burnaford.

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