By Meghan Daniel for The Island Connection
The Seabrook Island Town Council held its first monthly meeting of the new year on Jan. 26, 2021. In light of continued COVID-19 precautions, both the Council and its committees are still holding meetings virtually via Zoom.
After hearing and approving a proposed amendment from councilmember Jeri Finke, Council approved Emergency Ordinance 202101. The amendment involved striking a section from the ordinance, which added an exemption for wearing a mask if a person is engaged in strenuous activity or physical exercise.
Though the bulk of the meeting consisted of updates from the various committees that fall under council’s umbrella, other highlights from the meeting included the approval of Seabrook Island Utility Commission nominee James Ferland, who was sworn in Jan. 29. An incident report from Jan. 19 involving a woman whose inability to resist the ocean’s current resulted in the dispatch of St. John’s Fire District Marine Unit, a Coast Guard helicopter and the Town’s beach patrol jet ski. An update on what Mayor John Gregg called “substantial improvements” to crosswalks on Seabrook Island Road near Landfall Way and Andell Bluff Boulevard. And a reminder that new tide tables are available at town hall and the property owners association office.
In regard to the traffic signage on Seabrook Island Road, town administrator Joe Cronin said he and a representative from Sunburst Landscaping, Inc. reviewed all of the signs from town hall to Freshfields and plan to replace backings, posts and supports on signs in need of repair as well as repaint all of the white signs to a darker grey or brown color that would better align with other signage in the area. He also plans to replace most, if not all, of the sign faces with new signage that meets S.C. Department of Transportation highway specifications and has requested a quote for repainting the sign in front of town hall to coordinate with the new color scheme.
The next phase of these improvements, he said, would be to replace the sign at the traffic circle. Ideally, these projects would be completed prior to the PGA Championship in May.
Cronin also elaborated on the draft of the Invitation for Bids (IFB) for beach patrol for the upcoming season that has been shared with Council. This draft, he explained, is similar to the IFB posted in 2018, although this year, the recommendation is for an initial two-year term with the opportunity for the bidder to pursue three one-year renewals, up to a five-year term. The current contract was for an initial term of one year with two one-year renewals. The beach patrol schedule begins April 1.
Gregg reported on behalf of the Ways & Means Committee that grant funding for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been received and will be applied to the town’s emergency fund, from which expenditures arising from pandemic were taken.
Other news from the Ways & Means Committee included: the extension of business license due dates to March 31; the availability of revised business license renewal applications and short term rental permit applications; a pledge to support the cessation of use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides; notification of a temporary encroachment permit request received for the 2021 PGA championship; a reminder that COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or over the phone and a report received from the Johns Island Task Force that proposes zoning changes in stated land parcels that would allow for an increase from four to six dwelling units per acre under the Charleston County Zoning & Land Development Regulations Ordinance.
Finke, representing both the Beach Administration & Community and Government Relations Committees, spoke about the Community Promotion Grants, which aim to “promote a sense of place with programs within the town and on the island.” These grants, which will range from $250 to $1,500, will be available to applicants that are either established nonprofits or organized, not-for-profit groups that are not politically affiliated. A maximum of $5,000 has been appropriated to distribute among grant recipients.
Finke plans for grant applications to be reviewed by an ad hoc committee consisting of Cronin, two council members and two community members.
Council approved the implementation of the Community Program Grants as outlined in the documents provided to them prior to the meeting.
Finke also reported that Lauren Rust, who spearheads the partnership between the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network and the town, is excited that Seabrook Island will continue to provide funding for the organization’s programming on the island throughout the summer.
Councilmember Skip Crane shared that the Public Safety Committee recently reviewed plans for a disaster recovery exercise on Jan. 27 which would
use “an earthquake scenario to test the adequacy and appropriateness of the procedures and processes of each entity represented in the disaster recovery council as in place today,” he explained.
This exercise would also test the use of video conference capabilities in a disaster scenario.
Crane also informed the Council that the Development Standards Ordinance Advisory Committee planned to meet Thursday, Jan. 28 to further review the second draft of the DSO.
Councilmember Barry Goldstein reported that the Special Projects Committee is awaiting two reports from ESP Associates, Inc. related to flooding of the outbound pathway and the town’s roadways. He hopes that the roadway report, once acquired, will allow Council to establish plans for the town’s roadways before MUSC proposes a traffic plan for their new Seabrook Island Road site.
Annie Smith-Jones reported that the Utility Commission transitioned their information intake, billing and invoicing processes fully online in December.
Additionally, the commission has ordered three new generators from FEMA, is in the process of replacing all meters on homes and has started to replace the town’s clarifiers.
Councilmember Pat Fox noted in her report on behalf of the Public Relations & Communications Committee that a successful radio test was conducted on Jan. 17 and that several communications pieces from the town, including proposed zoning changes, have been posted in Tidelines.