A public hearing on ordinance 2011-01, an ordinance to adopt the re-codified Town Code for the Town of Seabrook, and on ordinance 2011-02, an ordinance to adopt the re-codified Development Standards for the Town of Seabrook, was held just before the formal meeting of Council. As no one arrived to speak, the hearing was closed.
Mayor Holtz reported that the Town’s business licenses came in around $3,000 higher than this time last year, “So we’ve had a good start,” said Holtz. Total revenue is $70,347.62 for the month of January against the $52,039.69 from the prior year. Total expenditures came to $24,800.12, which was $650.36 less than last year-to-date, and total excess of revenues over expenditures was $45,547.50; better than what was budgeted by $28,253.84. “We’ve had a nice month and there are some times when I can’t say that,” said the Mayor.
Steve Carroll of Red’s Ice House spoke before the Council on behalf of the Charleston Restaurant Association, recommending that the Town should be a sponsor of the 2011 Taste of Charleston event in order to gain more exposure.
“Southern Living is sponsoring this year’s event, and you could receive national attention through this,” said Carroll. “Southern Living readers are your demographic.” Carroll went on to explain that being a sponsor of the Taste of Charleston would allow the Town to essentially advertise in Southern Living for pennies on the dollar.
Holtz thanked Carroll for coming and telling them about the sponsorship and he would give it the Visibility Committee for consideration. He did express some reserve over how the Town would be listed as a sponsor – whether they would be a part of a long list or featured in some way – but he stated that I was a great things to “add to the list.” “We’re just trying to figure out where it’s best to put our limited amount of funds,” said Holtz.
A visit with the Municipal Association
Councilman Sam Reed reported that he recently attended an all-day meeting in Columbia with the Municipal Association of SC. In attendance were more than 400 Council members and Mayors, and Reed noted that they spent a good amount of time networking, visiting and attending several interesting talks. Of note was the fact that Reed heard the amount of Accommodations Tax (ATAX) money received by municipalities may be cut by up to 20%, and that the Municipal Association is lobbying, hoping to have oversight of local ATAX funds. “All in all, it was a very interesting meeting,” said Reed.
Update on the roads
Councilman Reed went on to note that while he was out of town recently, the Mayor attended an organizational meeting of a group put together to deal with the roads issue. The group, consisting of members from both Kiawah and Seabrook, will be working with Maurice Washington, whom the Kiawah Island Community Association has hired to help them with the issue of the roads on Johns Island.
To summarize, Holtz stated that the meeting simply consisted of the group requesting that Washington give a monthly report on his progress at the end of every month, and that he give it in person at least every other month.
“They’re basically pushing the Greenway as the least expensive alternative, but the county might come up with another alternative, and if it produces safer roads, we’ll look at it,” said Holtz, “but right now, there’s no plan in place and we need a plan from the County.” Holtz also noted that, during the meeting with the consultant, he did speak up for Seabrook very religiously.
Turning eyes to Seabrook
Councilman Terry Ahearn reported on the last meeting of the Visibility Committee, during which they discussed potential publications in which to advertise the island with Obviouslee Marketing representative, Jenny Ferrara, and discussed ideas on things to highlight. One idea the committee suggested was highlighting some of the interesting people who have chosen to live on the island, “Such as our own ex-Mayor,” smiled Ahearn, noting the famous painting “The Dugout” by Norman Rockwell, in which former Mayor Frank McNulty posed as a dejected bat boy for the Chicago Cubs. Ahearn noted that the committee is planning to have monthly meetings and will monitor results as they choose publications in which to advertise.
In other Visibility news, Ahearn reported on an open house held by the committee for realtors last week on the island, and noted that several good questions were brought up during the meeting. One asked that, if they brought people to look at a home on Seabrook, could there be a way for them to stay and ‘seal the deal’ by being able to buy a drink or lunch at the Pelican’s Nest.Anohter asked if there is a uniform policy for allowing outside realtors onto Seabrook and if so, what is it, and a third stated that it seemed that Seabrook real estate agents didn’t show listing from people outside the island. Joe Salvo of Seabrook Island Real Estate stated that, since he’s been director of the company, that has not been the case.
Ahearn also reported on a meeting of the Gate Sub-Committee, which consists of four members of the Visibility Committee. The group discussed solutions to the realtors’ questions, such as the possibility for realtors to be able to use a one day pass when they pick up their keys to show on the island. The committee discussed costs for the card’s usage – from no charge to a usage fee to cover the cost of running credit cards – but no decisions will be made until the ideas are brought before the board.
Councilman Ahearn also briefly brought up the idea of one day self-guided tours which would require a strict registration process in order to allow more people to see the island, but Councilman Rob Savin reminded the Council that he had talked to a number of residents who do not want “unfettered driving around and looking around” on the island. “This issue has been around as long as we’ve been around,” said Holtz. “We’ll work on it, but it will probably never be perfect.”
Website update and CVB’s March meeting on the island
Councilman Jerry Cummin reported that things are going well with the new town website, and they are working on the best way of allowing island entities to post on the website’s calendar. Project number two for the committee is setting objectives and discussing the possibility of online promotional videos. Lastly, Cummin stated that the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau, or CVB, would be holding their March meeting on the island on March 23. Those who arrive an hour before the meeting will be offered a tour of the facilities, and the meeting itself should only run about an hour. CVB members, Cummin noted, include politicians, members of the restaurant and hotel industry, and business owners. “It’s an excellent cross section of Charleston who will be seeing this island, most of them for the first time,” said Cummin, pointing out that the meeting will only be open to members of the CVB.
For emergencies, always dial 911
Councilman Savin began his report on public safety by reminding Council and those in attendance that, if there is a fire, police or medical emergency on the island, CALL 911, not the front gate. “The gate has a radio that monitors 911 calls, so they are apprised of the situation,” said Savin. In other public safety news, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division will be holding an earthquake drill on the morning of April 28. The island will be participating, and using the help of Scott Cave, the author of the Town’s disaster plan, in order to make sure they do everything by the book. “The important thing to remember if we have an earthquake is Stop, Drop and Cover,” said Savin, “Just stop what you’re doing and get under cover or under a door jam.”
“Just like the bomb drills from school,” smiled Cummin.
Lastly, Savin reported on a recent meeting he attended which included representatives from the five islands – Kiawah, Seabrook, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms and Folly. The group discussed the potential changes in ATAX funding, noting that a lot of those funds are used to pay for extra police officers and trash collection, especially during the summer months. One sore point was the state’s Robin Hood clause, which allows the state to distribute ATAX funds to inland counties and those that receive little to no tourism. “They wanted them to know, at the state level, that they really do need the money for their regular operations, especially in the summer,” said Savin. Other issues included the problem of “surf camps” wherein people take up a section of public beach for exercise boot camp, yoga, and surfing; franchises on the beach; dogs on the beach; and excess coastal insurance premiums, which will be discussed during future meetings. Savin did also note that an increase in the amount of ATAX taken from the state will not happen, and that ATAX refunds may increase due to a higher income than expected by the state.
Lastly, Savin stated that the Council needed to keep an eye on Bill 229, which is currently in the Senate. The bill concerns the point of sale fee and could affect the POA in fees collected during real estate transactions.
Fourth best water utility in the country
While Joe Hall of the Water Utility didn’t have anything directly to report, he was happy to announce that a study by the national Environmental Working Group (EWG) rated the Charleston Water System as the number four top rated water utility in the United States out of 100. Charleston was just below Fort Worth, Texas, with Arlington, Texas’s water utility coming in at number one.
Mayor Holtz reported on a concern from residents of Salt Marsh Townhomes, located at the end of Landfall Way, that they are having trouble accessing the bike path on bikes or while walking from the right hand side of the road and have requested a cross walk. “I don’t know the solution, but I said we’d look at it,” said Holtz.
Town Administrator Randy Pierce later reported that the Town is in the process of putting together a bid package to restore the sidewalk on the right hand side of Seabrook Island Road, and will be looking to railing to replace the reflective stantions currently in place. “It shouldn’t take more than three or four weeks to complete once everything’s approved,” said Pierce. Holtz reminded him that it would need to be done before Easter weekend due to all of the activities on the island.
Holtz was also happy to report that the first Kiawah Arts event held on Seabrook with the Planet D Nonet Jazz Band boasted more than 450 attendees, and a second Kiawah Arts event is scheduled for mid-March with a performance by the Charleston Ballet.
In terms of well-attended local events, Holtz was pleased to note that about 20 couples attended the Newcomers meeting at the Lake House recently, and one new resident has already expressed interest in joining the CERT program.
Holtz also reported that Gene Corrigan, the former head of the Election Commission, has resigned, and discussions are underway for the possibility of the County handling future elections, as the Town only has authority to run municipal elections, and all other elections are already run by the County.
Seabrook Race is on!
Town Administrator Randy Pierce reported that the Planning Commission has approved the Seabrook 5K and 10K race on April 23, which is the Saturday before Easter. The race will begin at the Bohicket Marina and the loops will take runners through scenic areas of Seabrook Island.
Pierce also stated that the Town has just finished their annual audit and the company which performed the audit, Glazier and Duncan, did an outstanding job. In fact, the company has offered to lock in the same contract and price for the next three years. Council approved the contract unanimously.
Ordinances for second reading:
Ordinance 2011-01, an ordinance to adopt the re-codified Town Code for the Town of Seabrook, and ordinance 2011-02, an ordinance to adopt the re-codified Development Standards for the Town of Seabrook, were approved by the Council unanimously.
Safety at the Marina
Before closing the meeting, Steve Carroll of Red’s Ice House spoke in regards to the issue of safety in the parking lot at the Bohicket Marina. Carroll noted that there was an instance in which a person was held up in his car after leaving Fischer’s at the Marina at 6:30 in the evening. While Red’s Ice House hires an off-duty cop every night, the officer typically doesn’t arrive until 7 or 8 p.m. Carroll suggested that, perhaps with the help of the town, the police presence could be extended for a longer time frame at the Marina. Carroll also suggested the installation of cameras at the corner of the marina entrance and the bank.
“It’s ridiculous when we can’t feel safe in our own parking lot,” said Carroll. “Any help from the Town would be appreciated.”
Holtz stated that they would look into it, but suggested that the owners of the Marina get on the ball, as well.
Council meetings for the Town of Seabrook Island are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2:30 p.m. The next Council meeting will be held on March 22, 2011. For more information, visit www.TownofSeabrookIsland.com or call 768-9121. Seabrook Town Hall is located at 2001 Seabrook Island Road.