A public hearing for Ordinances 2009-08 and 2009-09 was held at 2:25 before the Town Council meeting. As there were no comments, the public hearing was closed at 2:30pm.
For the ten months ending on October 31, 2009, Mayor Holtz reported that revenues are $732,302.69, which is $53,607.54 better than budgeted, but still $183,176.61 less than last year-to-date. “This is indicative of what’s going on with all municipalities,” said Holtz. “But we’re exceeding our budgeted revenue, which is good.” Expenditures for the ten months are $437,134.47 against a budget of $460,029.06, and the excess of revenues over expenditures total $295,168.22, which is down from last year’s excess of $470,839.80. “We’re running about 37% less than last year in surplus, but it’s still a surplus,” said the Mayor, noting that the discrepancy is mainly due to business license fee income.
Councilman Jerry Cummin asked about the Utility Commission loan line item, which states $440,000 as the total of the loan in the Seabrook Island budget, but is listed as $438,000 in the Utility Commission budget. Council asked Joe Hall of the Utility Commission about the discrepancy later in the meeting, and Hall explained that they had initially requested a loan of $438,000, but all of the bond instruments were written in units of 10, so the bond is covered at $440,000 and the loan is for $440,000.
Becoming acquainted with disaster
As the Seabrook Town Council has recently added two new Council members – Councilmen Sam Reed and Terry Ahearn – newly appointed Mayor Holtz asked that Scott Cave from Atlantic Business Continuity Services return to Council and briefly run through the Town’s new Comprehensive Disaster Plan. “This is a major project and we want to make sure everyone knows what’s going on,” said Holtz.
As he did for last month’s meeting, Cave ran through the plans major points, noting the tabs which discuss how to handle potential threats to the Town including specific responses to individual entity emergencies (Town Hall, Utility Commission, etc.), and pointed out that training and maintenance of the plan are necessary for its effective implementation. “This is a living document that needs to be maintained,” said Cave.
Councilman Ahearn asked if the plan includes provisions for the supply of fuel in case of an emergency, and Cave replied that a vehicle is scheduled to leave the island in case of an advance warning emergency. As for fueling the generator, Town Administrator Pierce noted that the new Town generator has a 1,000 gallon propane tank, which will allow it to run for up to two weeks. Councilman Savin also pointed out that there’s fuel at the Seabrook Island Club, and the Utility Commission has a 20,000 gallon tank which “could run for months”.
The green space controversy
“Let’s talk about charities and green space,” said Mayor Holtz. “The previous Council did not give to any non-profits or charities because they were unable to determine which organizations should have the money and they’re all good. There are none that do not deserve help.” That being said, Holtz brought up the recent request by the Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy for a donation of $10,000 to sponsor their gala event in March, 2010. “They help all of Seabrook and have done great things,” said Holtz, “but I know if we approve one, we’ll have ten more coming.” The rest of Council agreed, stating that, even though the Green Space Conservancy is a good cause and an excellent organization, the Council should continue its policy of not donating to charities and non-profits.
“We’re not a charity,” said Joe Crispyn, Assistant Treasurer for the Conservancy. “We’re a non-profit 501 (c)3 organization established for the benefit of Seabrookers.” He reminded Council that, over the past ten years, the Conservancy has preserved more than ten acres of land on the island at an appraised value of $6 million. “Our 2010 plans include preserving the access road running from the Freshfields circle to the Seabrook gate,” said Crispyn.
Conservancy President Dick Hughes concurred with Crispyn, pointing out that the Conservancy has used primarily individual contributions to purchase the land. “We regard support from the Town as a way of equitably sharing amongst all of the citizens,” said Hughes. “If part of the money applied to the water bill refund were applied to support green space, all of the citizens would have contributed to something that is for their wellbeing.”
Councilman Savin asked why no one had to come to the Council about the issue until after the water bill was refunded, and Hughes clarified that he is focusing on next year’s refund. “If you could support us, you could make the point that this is a refund to the community, not a charitable contribution,” said Hughes.
The Council listened, but in the end, Mayor Holtz stated that he appreciated the Conservancy’s position, “but I’m make a motion to continue to not support non-profits and charities.” The Council agreed unanimously. “You have a good point,” said Holtz, “But we’re not going to bend on this one.”
Report from Public Safety
Councilman Savin reported for the Public Safety Committee, noting that he and Town Administrator Randy Peirce have gone through the Committee’s implementation schedule and are currently waiting for the Town attorney to get back with them on some questions before forming the official Committee.
Report from Roads Committee
Councilman Sam Reed, as the head of the Roads Committee, stated that he feels confident that progress is being made toward improving the safety of roads on Johns Island. He reminded Council about the all day Greenway drop-in meeting at the Johns Island Public Library on Monday, December 7, and noted that the Roads Committee which he had chaired under the Property Owners Association would most likely continue in its present form under the auspices of Seabrook Island. The Roads Committee will continue to work with the Kiawah Roads Committee, which is headed by Dr. Paul Roberts, President of the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA).
In terms of working with the Kiawah Roads Committee, Councilman Reed made his first motion as Chair of the Roads Committee, asking the Town to contribute $1,000/month toward continuing the services of Jerome Howard, a Johns Island resident who has been instrumental in introducing the Greenway concept to Charleston County Council. “I have every confidence in the reliability of [Dr. Paul] Roberts, but I asked that they run contributions by us before dispersing them,” said Reed. Holtz, however, asked that they hold the motion until December so that they could clarify the details of the agreement. Reed withdrew the motion.
Island entity Liaison Officer
Councilman Terry Ahearn has been appointed as the Liaison Officer between the Island’s many organizations and business entities, and for his first report, Ahearn noted that he has been in contact with both the Seabrook Island Club and the POA. He pointed out that they are both interested in cooperating and brought up the issue of the Town’s website and how they would both like for there to be a joint website which would provide information about Seabrook, as well as links to the various other entities. Mayor Holtz recommended that Ahearn work with Councilman Jerry Cummin, chair of the Communications Committee, who has some experience in building websites.
Report from Communications Committee
Councilman Jerry Cummin, head of the Communication Committee, reported that his Committee is working on a project to determine what radios are available on the island and how to sync them with each other so that they will be able to communicate in case of a disaster. He noted that Councilman Savin is in charge of acquiring two satellite phones, “but we need to know how we’ll communicate with other island entities,” said Cummin, “so that’s one of our projects.”
Appointment of Mayor Pro-Tem
Mayor Holtz motioned that Councilman Rob Savin, as the most senior Council member, be appointed as Mayor Pro Tempore. The motion was approved unanimously.
Zoning changes on the island
Town Administrator Randy Pierce reported that the zoning map for Seabrook Island is updated every year, and this year, the only real change is to Jenkins Point as per the recently passed Ordinance which allows for a one acre subdivided lot to be rezoned as SR-1. “One housekeeping issue is that on the Town map, an old construction route near Pelican Watch is designated as an easement, though it actually belongs to Pelican Watch and is private property,” said Pierce. With the change to Jenkins Point and the adjustment to the old construction route near Pelican Watch, the Council approved the changes to the Town zoning map unanimously.
The boundaries of Captain Sams Spit
Councilman Cummin asked whether or not the Town is satisfied with the current boundaries in place around Captain Sams Spit. Pierce stated that a survey had been done of the property by a survey group in Charleston. At the time, the boundaries were approved by the Council, but Town attorney Steve Brown is checking into the legality of the platted coordinates. “We do have an agreement with Kiawah that says the boundary will always remain where the cut goes in place,” said Pierce, referencing the regular dredging of the Kiawah Island River which has been done twice in the past and is being prepared for a third dredging, “So hopefully we have everything in place to lay a solid boundary.”
Report from Utility Commission
As the sole survivor of the Town of Seabrook Island’s 1985 Incorporation Committee, Joe Hall remarked that the Town of Seabrook Island was originally zoned for 3600 residential units; a number which, as far as he understands, has been reduced to 2600. “The Town looked at the percentage of impermeable surfaces on the island such as roof coverage and asphalt roads, and through the years has put 42 acres of land into green space. It cost thousands to get that done,” said Hall. “It’s just a point you ought to know and be proud of.”
Councilman Savin asked Hall about a recent incident reported to him by an island resident, wherein she found that “black stuff” was coming out of her faucet. Hall reported that this had occurred all over the island this past summer due to a low amount of chlorine in the water system; the result of a faulty chlorine distribution system. “It’s actually mildew that grew in the storage tanks and permeated the system,” said Hall. The problem has since been corrected.
Lastly, Hall reported that the flooding problem at the corner of Marsh Hen and the back of Seabrook Island Road is being repaired with the installment of a back blow valve.
Second reading of Ordinance 2009-08: membership of various committees
Currently, the Town of Seabrook Island’s Public Safety Committee consists of one member of Council. This Ordinance adds the phrase “plus two additional at-large members to be determined by the Public Safety official and approved by Town Council.” The second reading approved unanimously.
Second reading of Ordinance 2009-09: debris removal
This Ordinance states that that the Mayor may order the removal of debris on public or private land if such action is required to eliminate or lessen immediate threats to lives, public health, and safety; or as it is needed in order to eliminate or lessen immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property through cost effective measures; or to ensure the economic recovery of the Town to the benefit of the Town-at-large. The second reading approved unanimously.
Holtz read a resolution which waives an Ordinance, allowing for the discharge of firearms for the sole purpose of thinning the deer herd on Seabrook Island. The person who will perform the herd thinning will be hired by the POA. The resolution was approved unanimously.
Charleston Visitors Bureau
Katie Chapman of the Visitors Bureau reminded Council once again about the availability of Be a Tourist in Your Own Town passes, which can be purchased at www.beatourist.net. Also, the CVB will be printing 100,000 more copies of the new Charleston visitor’s guide for a total of 600,000 copies to be dispersed across the United States.
Councilman Savin asked if a “yield” sign could be installed at the right hand curve which bypasses the Freshfields roundabout to allow drivers onto Seabrook Island. Holtz agreed that it would be a good idea, noting that “I’m not for a hundred signs on the island, but I’m for that.”
The next meeting of the Seabrook Town Council will be held on Tuesday, December 22, at 2:30pm at Seabrook Town Hall, located at 2001 Seabrook Island Road. For more info, call Town Hall at 768-9121.