Aug 01 2019

Seabrook Island Town Council Meeting: Tuesday, July 23rd 2019

By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Sr. Staff Writer

The Seabrook Island Town Council (SITC) meeting of July 23 had five ordinances on the docket with particular attention given to Ordinance 2019-08 (a curb on single use plastics).

Mayor Ciancio reminded attendees SITC had been working on Ordinance 2019-08 since the beginning of the year. He said the action was deemed in the best interest of the community after consulting with the Seabrook Island Club, Bohicket Marina, and local restaurants. Ciancio said the town’s blog showed a majority supporting the action.

Council member Finke publicly mentioned Ordinance 2019-08 for the first time during the town council meeting of March 25, 2019.  She made a motion to commit the town to act on Ordinance 2019-08, saying in part, “Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island stand out as two of South Carolina’s coastal communities that have not passed some version [of a ban]. I don’t think [we] should… adopt a policy just because a neighboring municipality has done so, but… because it is the right thing to do for Seabrook Island, and our very vulnerable and special ecosystem… Also [this] may give the town standing if the ‘Ban the Bans’ is enacted [e.g. state legislature], and there is a challenge to local authority,” Finke said at the time.

Ordinance 2019-07 also drew public comments from several Seabrook residents. The measure gives SITC the ability to issue up to $4.5 million in General Obligation Bonds and language in the bill stipulates either the mayor or town administrator can act alone to issue them. The mayor explained the ordinance was only to give the town the option of securing the funds in response to a disaster and would require action by council.

However, the mayor also explained the flexibility of the language was designed to address an evacuation scenario, when a quorum might not be possible and delays to begin clearing roads intolerable.

The final contribution to the public hearing was a statement of support for Ordinance 2019-04. The act transfers another piece of land to Seabrook’s Greenspace Conservancy. The parcel at 2820 Dove Nest is the fifth contiguous lot near the Lake House.

The mayor reported revenue for the month was $238.768.06, which he attributed to a check for business license fees from the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC). The amount brings Seabrook to about 40% of its annual projections. Expenses for June totaled just under $139,000 or about 35% of the annual budget. The Mayor said the town didn’t receive franchise fees from Berkeley Electric, AT&T, or Comcast in June. However, he thinks the checks are on the way and should boost next month’s figures. 

Council member John Gregg said the public safety committee continued to revise a 2013 memorandum of understanding with the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) for clearing debris from private roads after a disaster. The topic was broached because of new guidance received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), changing what can be easily approved for costs of clearing roads for the passage of emergency vehicles. The committee also considered debris removal plans of other municipalities, based on updated information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Council member Wells reported that Seabrook won the coveted 2019 Achievement Award bestowed by MASC for towns in the 1001 -5000 population range. Credit for the wins goes to the Dolphin Education Program.

“The Town of Seabrook Island has the distinction of being one of the few places where visitors can observe Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the process of strand feeding, a behavior in which they launch themselves up onto a beach to eat the fish they have driven out of the water before them.

“The Seabrook Island Dolphin Education Program, designed by NOAA Fisheries and managed by the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, relies on volunteers working during peak tourist season to engage with and educate beachgoers,” read parts of MASC’s account of the award. 

The mayor reported the town is in receipt of a petition signed by approximately 100 residents requesting changes to the beach ordinance. He detailed the request as well as the groups and organizations which have been consulted on the matter. He closed the topic by saying council had not reached a decision on how or if to move forward.

Mayor Ciancio said the town was close to a deal with the proposed senior living center. While he could not share details, he said any agreement would be shared with the public and voted on by SITC. 

He proposed a donation of $1000 to the Citadel on behalf of former Seabrook mayor Terrence J. “Terry” Ahearn. “Terry was an alumnus of the Citadel, served Seabrook in various capacities on the POA, and one term as mayor. I’m sure he would have served many more if his health hadn’t failed him… and the Citadel has set a goal of $50,000 for this effort,” said Ciancio.

The Citadel proposes to name a classroom in its new Capers Hall – School of Humanities and Social Sciences for Terry. Donations can be made by emailing Donna Factor, Director of Development, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, or calling 843.953.5258. 

Town administrator Joe Cronin detailed the beach patrol report for the month of June [townofseabrookisland. org/beach-patrol.html]. He also secured a temporary use permit for the Alan Fleming Tennis Tournament to be held October 2-6, 2019, and reported that work on 1126 Ocean Forest Dr. is complete.

 All ordinances scheduled for second reading/enactment passed with unanimous support.

Ordinance 2019-04 rezones 2820 Dove Nest from the single family residential category to agricultural-conservation.

Ordinance 2019-05 deletes section and amends section 7.60.80. The net effect allows residents to apply for variances to setbacks for HVAC equipment in homes built before the town was incorporated and before the current set of FEMA regulations went into effect. It also reduces the application fee by $200.

Ordinance 2019-06 allows adoption of the town’s updated comprehensive plan.

Ordinance 2019- 07 renews the town’s option to issue bonds in the amount of $4.5 million, should the need for additional funds arise (e.g. a disaster).

Ordinance 2019-08 prohibits the distribution of single use plastic bags, plastic straws and polystyrene (coolers, cups, and other food containers) by any business operating in the Town of Seabrook Island.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

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