By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Sr. Staff Writer
Satellite parking outside Town Hall and front row seats inside were all that remained when Seabrook Island Town Council called its Aug. 27 meeting to order.
Several thorny issues of interest to a broad swath of Seabrook residents checkered an otherwise thin agenda. The resulting discussions, which contributed to a long meeting, followed on the heels of standing reports.
Mayor Ron Ciancio reported $184,000 in revenue for the month of July. The town received the long-awaited check from Comcast in the amount of $14,000, less than $27,000 in local option sales taxes and $125,000 in grant funding to offset some of the town’s expenses for improvements along Seabrook Island Rd. Total revenues of more than $968,000 for the year to date bring Seabrook to about 50% of annual projections. Seabrook spent just over $80,000 for the month, bringing expenses for the year to $768,000, which puts Seabrook in the black for the year by about $200,000.
There was a fire at 2472 Seabrook Island Rd. on July 22, said Mayor Pro Tem John Gregg. Brandon and Heather McKee were renting the house from Seabrook resident Daniel Arnold. The McKees allowed passersby to recharge their electric low-speed vehicles, which was the source of a blaze that completely consumed the cart and damaged the exterior of two cars and the Arnolds’ house.
The Arnolds were having dinner with Seabrook resident Karen Nutall – right next door – when the blaze erupted. She wondered if there was anything the town could do to avoid repeating the incident. “… With summer winds, the whole neighborhood could go up,” she said. Her concerns were vigorously echoed by Seabrook resident Martha Goldstein and several other concerned citizens. Council agreed to review the matter.
The Public Safety Committee is all but finished revising a 2013 memorandum of understanding with the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) for clearing debris from private roads after a disaster, Gregg said. The topic was broached because of new guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) changing what can be “easily” approved for costs of clearing roads for the passage of emergency vehicles.
Gregg also said Seabrook’s contribution to Charleston County’s hazard mitigation plan will be approved. The plan contributes to the “community rating system” used to determine insurance rates. Seabrook has long-enjoyed a very positive rating that Gregg expects will continue for the foreseeable future. Gregg concluded his report by announcing the addition of Elizabeth Murphy and Frank Farfone to the Public Safety Committee.
Council Member Skip Crane got right to the point and announced that the Charleston Symphony Orchestra would be preforming live at Seabrook’s Lake House on Sept. 22, starting at 4 p.m. Everyone’s invited, he said. Kiawah residents wishing to attend should stop by Seabrook Town Hall for a pre-approved gate pass.
Ciancio opened his report by saying a January 2019 memorandum of understanding with developers of a proposed senior living center is all but finished. The mayor recapped, saying the town’s Planning Commission approved the development last year but with nine conditions. Atlantic Partners II objected to all nine, and the matter ended up in the Court of Common Pleas.
Some of the agreement’s details include:
- The bike path will be protected.
- Atlantic Partners II will build a left-hand turn lane at its expense and will do so during off-peak hours.
- The town will contract for a traffic study to be paid for by Atlantic Partners
- No deliveries after 8 a.m. on Saturdays.
- Atlantic Partners II will pay the town to hire a traffic engineer to serve as an ombudsman for Seabrook.
- Atlantic Partners II will post a $150,000 bond.
- Fines of $500 were established for violating the conditions of the memorandum of understanding.
If there are three of the same violation or a total of 12 violations, Seabrook can revoke the agreement.
Ciancio said the agreement is on the town’s website. He encouraged residents to have a look in advance of a public hearing on the matter, scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 17 in chambers. The hearing will be followed by a vote of Council, with final ratification slated for the regular Council meeting on Sept.24.
Ciancio then floated a solution to the town’s leash law/beach ordinance. He encouraged a roundtable discussion of a proposal developed after months of consulting with island residents and several state agencies.
The mayor’s suggestion:
- Dogs are allowed between boardwalks 1 and 9.
- During the summer, April 1 to Sept. 30, dogs must be on a leash from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- During the winter, Oct. 1 to March 31, dogs must be on a leash from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Martha Goldstein said the town was rushing the matter. “This all started because a dog stole a piece of cheese from a picnic in 2006,” she said.
- Bob Lawrence, executive director of Camp St. Christopher, wants dogs on leash 24/7/365 in his area.
- Max Sherman wasn’t sure why the town was going to all the trouble of resurrecting the issue.
- Nancy Brown said the “birders” weren’t concerned by the change.
- Dale Leibach campaigned for dogs off leash 24/7/365 during the winter months
- Jennifer McDonald suggested getting input from renters
The Council will consider the many change requests, solidify a plan and act on the matter later this fall.
Town Administrator Joe Cronin delivered the beach patrol report for the month of June.
- secured an extension to the building permit for 2959 Seabrook Island Rd.;
- led a debate about a new LED sign requested by the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association;
- informed Council there have been some setbacks to issuing a request for proposal as part of the town’s effort to secure a new auditor. He assured Council there was still plenty of time but cautioned that a compressed schedule may be required for Seabrook to change auditors before the end of 2019;
- recommended Seabrook residents use the county’s online Mosquito Treatment Request Tool. General information about the program is available at charlestoncounty. org/departments/public-works/ mosquito-about.php. The form to request treatment is available by visiting charlestoncounty.org/ departments/public-works/workorder-request.php;
- announced that the next shredding day for Seabrook is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Town Hall.
Just a reminder: The Citadel proposes to name a classroom in its new Capers Hall for Seabrook luminary Terry Ahearn. You can donate directly by emailing Donna Factor, director of development, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at 843.953.5258. You can also visit the town’s website for more information or for ways to bundle your contributions with those of other residents.