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Oct 15 2010

Kiawah Town Council: October 5, 2010

Development Agreement Approved

Despite a citizen’s presentation by Kiawah resident Wendy Kulick asking for a delay on second reading of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort/Town of Kiawah Island Development Agreement ordinance, and a request by Councilman Charles Lipuma to delay reading until October 19 when Councilman Steve Orban would be in town for the vote, Council decided to go ahead with second reading. While Kulick cited an earlier discussion she had with Dan Pennick, Director of Planning and Zoning for both Charleston County and the Town of Kiawah, in which Pennick felt that if the development agreement was turned down they would not have to wait a year – as with zoning applications – to resume discussions, Town attorney Dennis Rhoad advised Kulick that he had spoken with Pennick and according to Town Code, if a motion were made to approve the Development Agreement and the motion failed, then the applicant would have to wait 12 months.

Before going into the second reading, an errata sheet was approved unanimously by Council for addition to the finalized Development Agreement and includes requests to show missing acreage on maps for parcel 10 B Residential and 10 C Cougar Island, a note about “all required parking shall be screened or enclosed” under exhibit 13.4 R-3 (DA) Residential, and a few exhibit corrections and displays of locations for subparcels both at Cougar Point Golf and East Beach Village.

Councilman Lipuma also asked that a table of contents be added to the errata sheet, and that a few exhibit pages be amended for consistency. Both requests were approved unanimously.

“I have two more substantive motions to make,” said Lipuma, motioning that, under exhibit 13.3, zoning district R-2 (DA) Residential and under exhibit 13.4, zoning district R-3 (DA) Residential, the language should be revised to read that “all required parking shall be enclosed, excepting that all required parking for multi-family dwelling units shall be screened with vegetation or enclosed.” Council approved both motions unanimously.

Before giving their final vote, Councilman Lipuma noted that the last public hearing for the Development Agreement was an eye opener. “Not one member of the public that spoke endorsed the agreement as it stands, and two thirds of the letters we received were negative or critical,” said Lipuma before pointing out several items that should be addressed by the Town before taking a vote for second reading, such as the issue of Night Heron Park, moving the villa check in to Mingo Point or off-island, reducing guest room density at West Beach, reducing building heights, requiring multiple beach access points with parking and providing steps to increase traffic flow and avoiding “pinch” points. “I would have felt more comfortable if we sat down as a Council to vet these points and say whether we agree or don’t agree,” he noted.

Councilman Harry McHugh felt differently, remarking on how successful he felt the public hearings had been as the Council had taken several points from those meetings and amended the Development Agreement accordingly, such as reducing building height at Mingo Point, requiring site plans and the commitment from both the Town and the Resort to begin negotiations on Night Heron Park as soon as the Agreement was approved. “As long as the Nown will consider some sort of conference center in night Heron Park, then that’s all we need to make it go forward,” McHugh explained. “I feel confident that we can negotiate and get property for KICA in the Night Heron Park area.”

Councilman Al Burnaford added that he also felt the public hearings had been of value, and reminded property owners that open space for each parcel of land under the Development Agreement included between 40 and 60% open space, with 30% for RST-1. “When you look at lots with that much area not buildable, that’s a large amount of greenspace,” said Burnaford. “It’s been four years and I think this is a good agreement. Is it the best or worst? No, but it will revitalize West and East Beach, and as we go through this thing, I think people will support it whole-heartedly.”

Mayor Wert agreed with Burnaford, pointing out that he feels that each party is doing what they think is in the best interest of the island “we call home.” “No other issue has been more public and thoroughly vetted in island history,” said Wert. “We’ve held four public hearings, as well as three webinars for those who were not in town. The resort may reject the agreement, but that is their choice. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do and it probably will be tweaked and amended as we go on. This has not been an easy time for us in Council and we all feel we’re doing the correct thing. I feel that in every elected official’s time, there are seminal moments between what is politically easy and what’s best to do for the good of the public. This is one of those times. “

The Development Agreement passed, 3-1 with Councilman Lipuma voting against.

2010-08: Fiscal year 2010-11 budget agreement

While a public hearing was held 15 minutes before the day’s council meeting, no one spoke. Council approved the second reading of the budget amendment unanimously.\

2010-09: Amendments to Article 12 and Comprehensive Plan

A public hearing was also held just before the day’s council meeting on amendments to Article 12 and the Comprehensive Plan, bringing Town Code in accordance with the new Development Agreement. No one spoke during the hearing and Council approved second reading of the amendments 3 -1 with Lipuma voting against.

Roudabout irrigation repair and mulch replacement

Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker reported that roughly 100 sprinkler heads need to be replaced at the Freshfields roundabout at a cost of $4200, and that the landscaping along the parkway needs to be re-mulched at a cost of $13,000. Council agreed to just mulch in the most visible areas and allow plants to grow around it instead of mulching the entire area. Both motions were approved unanimously.

Charleston Symphony Orchestra League performance approved

Administrator Rucker pointed out that Council discussed the expenditure of a performance from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra during the Kiawah Fall House Tour, and while the Accomodations Tax Committee (ATAX) approved $25,000 for a full Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) performance, it is not certain whether the CSO will still be in existence as of the performance date on October 30, so Rucker asked that Council approve $13,000 to have a performance from CSO musicians instead of the full CSO. Council approved unanimously.

2009-2010 Town’s Audited Financial Statements

Rucker also announced that the Town has received an unqualified opinion, or clean audit, for the financial year ending June 30, 2010. As of the audit, the town has more than $21 million in assets and more than $13 million in the current balance. “It’s a compliment to the Town Staff to have a clean audit report,” said Mayor Wert, thanking Rucker and Town Treasurer Kenneth Gunnells for all of their hard work.

Arts Council Report

Councilman Lipuma applauded the recent performance by musician/comedian Jimmy Keys, and while all 200 tickets were distributed, only about 130 people arrived for the show. “That as a disappointment,” Lipuma said. “If you have tickets and can’t make it to an event, please call and let us know so we can make those tickets available to someone else.” The next Kiawah Arts Performance will be “Gaubert Vivant! Flute and Piano Concert” on Friday, October 22, at the Church of Our Saviour starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now at Kiawah Town Hall.

External affairs report

Councilman Burnaford reminded the Council and citizens that tree trimming is continuing along Bohicket Road for the next several weeks, so be careful while driving. He also noted that he will be visiting Columbia that Friday to argue for allowing municipalities to keep their amount of ATAX funds. “This could mean a loss of up to $250,000 in ATAX funds,” said Burnaford, but assured that he would argue it and make a case for the Town.

Town Administrator’s Report

Town Adminstrator Rucker reminded Council and citizens about the franchise fee change with Comcast from $25 per year to 3%. There is a 90 day waiting period before the change goes into effect, but once it does, Rucker assured that residents would be informed before the change. She also noted that minor improvements are being made to the conference room at Town Hall, and that the Town Staff is still making sure everything is in order in the event of a hurricane, since the season does not end until November. In terms of the work being done both inside and outside of the gate along the bike path, Rucker noted that Berkeley Electric has started pulling wires through duct lines under the parkway and will continue over the next few months. Rucker also stated that the Town has requested a CD ROM of all registered voters on the island to make available to candidates running for the November 2 elections. Finally, on a sad note for the Town, Rucker noted that Town Clerk Cathy “Cat” Wilson has left to pursue a position near her home in North Carolina. She will be greatly missed, but the staff is happy for her.

Mayor’s report

“We will miss her, she was a wonderful clerk,” said Mayor Wert in regards to Wilson. The Town is currently interviewing replacements and have culled it down to three finalists. In terms of local crime, Wert noted that seven units along Tennis Club Lane had been broken into over the past week. Robbers removed some electronic items and the Town has requested that patrols be increased on the island, and KICA will be increasing their patrols, as well. “Also, a shrimp/trawler boat being towed up the coast didn’t quite make it,” said Wert, “so flotsam has washed up on the beach.” Wert assured that the Beach Patrol has been collecting the broken bits of the ship and pulling the biodegradable pieces further up shore so they can help collect sand. Lastly, in reference to the meeting Councilman Burnaford will be attending in Columbia concerning ATAX funds, Wert noted that they are looking at “some pretty draconian slashes in allocation. This is part of how the state istrying to balance their books,” said Wert.

“It’s across the board, so we will lobby hard to avoid a reduction.”

Citizen’s Comments:

Mark Permar, a Kiawah resident and representative for the applicant to the Development Agreement, thanked Council and the community for their involvement with the Development Agreement process. He made some notes about the most recent changes which Council motioned to be included in the Agreement, stating that enclosed parking could lead to larger heights of buildings and/or more buildings with covered structures. He also gave a brief history of the development of Kiawah Island, stating that before 1974, zoning on the island would have allowed for 12,000 units, turning Kiawah into one big subdivision. The PUD for Kiawah changed this to a 7,000 unit maximum and in 1994, the island took the lead word “resort” from its entrance sign and began balancing between residential and resort, moving Kiawah toward becoming more of a residential community with a resort in it. Then, in 2005, KRA withdrew a hotel entitlement at end of Beachwalkder drive. “It was in direct response to the community’s desire to go more toward residential,” said Permar. “I’m confused about comments on density because our ranges are modest by many standards. There’s science in this, it’s not whimsical.”

Roger Warren, President of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, also spoke, thanking the Town and Council. “We’ve had good moments and difficult moments,” he said. “I think the citizens of the community should feel good about the process and those who represented them. I felt an underlying sense of mistrust in those in process and don’t know why. These people are committed to do what is right for the community. it astounds me that, with where we live and the opportunity we have and the quality of life, that we spend so much time in discord as we do.” Warren hoped that, as the Town and Resort go forward, that “we should learn to trust, and this is hard for me to say, the governmental process. We have an expectation for these people to be more informed than most. So many ideas were expressed based on bad information. This DA Is being done with a lot of care on their [Bill Goodwin and family] part. This is a family business and the people on this board believe in this island, and what they’ve done to this point represent that. We’ll do what’s right for the island and ultimately, we’ll make money off of it. Thank God we live in America.”

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