By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Staff Writer
Seabrook Island Town Council (SITC) began its July meeting ahead of schedule to allow time for a public hearing. No one was there who didn’t have to be when the “hearing” began and there were no comments or objections to Ordinance 2017-02, an amendment to the Development Standards Ordinance— Encroachment Permit. The mayor moved for order, and approved last month’s town council meeting minutes. He also commented there had been a ways & means committee meeting, but the minutes had only just been completed.
They would be reviewed before and approved at the next meeting of SITC, said the mayor.
Mayor Ciancio began June’s financial report for Seabrook by announcing the town has amassed over $2 million in emergency funds. The mayor said the town had a stellar month, which put Seabrook $98,000 over estimates for the year and $52,000 ahead of this time last year. He attributed the excess to spikes in interest income, and local option sales tax.
Costs continue to show guardedly good news as well. Expenses for the month were limited to $15,000 for a total of $329,000 less than anticipated for the year, and $36,000 less than at this time last year.
The news came with the now familiar asterisk: funds earmarked for drainage/ repairs along Seabrook Island Rd. would be spent, but there’s a shiny side to even that cautionary remark, delivered by councilmember John Gregg.
Gregg said the club’s long range planning committee did not meet in July, but is now expected to meet in August with the objective of reviewing their annual survey.
The Public Safety Committee met on July 10, said Gregg, but with a renewed focus. Not only has the committee discovered some adjustments it would like to make to the comprehensive plan, but Charleston County is reviewing their own comprehensive plan. Gregg now hopes further examination will enable the town to fine-tune its comprehensive plan and possibly dovetail with the county’s version.
Gregg then made the motion to transfer some excess funds to the community association. Seabrook’s budget for Disaster Awareness Day (DAD) was $6,000 but they managed to stay under the figure by $2,300. He moved to split the $4,300 cost incurred by the community association’s videotaping DAD for the benefit of remote/absentee participants. There was a bit of debate and everyone seemed to agree taping was expensive, and a review of how many people took advantage of the resource was needed before repeating the gesture. The measure passed unanimously.
Gregg concluded his report by saying Charleston County had accepted the town’s application for funds to assist with the planned renovations to Seabrook Island Rd. (between the traffic circle and the new gate house). He seemed encouraged by the prospect of getting as much as $158,000 in funding to assist with the project as a qualified hazard mitigation measure.
Councilmember John Turner was back in full form and tackled yet another environmental issue. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is soliciting feedback, separate from the town’s previous effort to contact elected officials, on the subject of off-shore drilling. Turner informed council the deadline for comments is August 17 and suggested SITC send the same letter of objection to expedite response time. The mayor was reluctant to send a “boiler plate” letter and the two council members will work together to craft a letter tailored specifically to BOEM’s request.
Individuals interested in commenting should visit https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=BOEM-2017-0050-0001 and click on the “Comment Now” button in the upper right hand corner.
Turner had also done some research on the municipal association’s website and found three SC coastal towns with regulations on fishing. Hilton Head, for example, restricts fishing in a designated swimming area. Turner wasn’t sure that would work on Seabrook, but is concerned about the safety hazard created by unattended lines. He also said beach patrol had reported 86 incidences of dog leash violations. Both topics will be dissected and organized into a detailed report at a future council meeting.
Councilmember John Wells said the advertising extravaganza was all set and funded. Seabrook will host travel writer Tracey and photographer husband Wesley Teo from July 25 – August 5. Tracey Teo writes for a number of travel magazines as well as such newspapers as the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Tennessean. Activities galore are scheduled to show them the best of Seabrook.
The mayor’s report included more information on last month’s announcement of Seabrook’s 30th anniversary celebration. The mayor hired the Charleston Symphony Orchestra to visit Seabrook with 46 musicians and funding was approved during June’s SITC meeting. The CSO will be at the Lake House at 4:00 p.m. on October 15, with a rain date of October 20, also at 4:00 p.m.
Jim Bannwart said the Seabrook Island Utility (SIU) operated at a loss during June, which he attributed to rain and simply selling less water as a result.
He peppered in a little known statistic: SIU processed about .5 million gallons of wastewater per day during the reporting period. Bannwart concluded his report by saying that SIU contract manager Tommy West had attended a seminar conducted by the Rural Infrastructure Agency. SIU representatives were trying to determine if membership in the organization was appropriate, but recommended Seabrook not join the association.
The sole item of new business on the agenda was Ordinance 2017-02. The measure, if adopted, will enable SITC to assess fees for impacts along Seabrook Island Rd. in areas technically outside the town’s jurisdiction. The second reading of the measure passed unanimously without debate or comment. Councilmember Wells made a point of thanking the planning commission for its work on the measure.
Seabrook resident Allison Blakey was back this month and thanked council members for the attention they were giving the issue of fishing lines. She attended SITC’s meeting in May to call attention to the matter, and seemed pleased by the progress. She added her concerns about people feeding alligators, and traffic delays at the new gatehouse, and was referred to the community association, though the mayor assured her of his support for new signage, if she/they think it will help. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.