By Gregg Bragg or The Island Connection
The Town of Kiawah Island wasn’t about to cancel a second Town Council meeting so close to its July recess.
Marked safe from the hurricane for only a couple of days, the town hastily swapped its Sept. 3 meeting for one on the 10th. Residents were still returning from evacuations, so attendance was thin, and Hurricane Dorian headlining the mayor’s report shocked no one.
Mayor Craig Weaver said he stayed on the island during the hurricane. He thanked a laundry list of people and organizations that helped with the cleanup, then made a few observations. Weaver conceded his information was still anecdotal at that point, that debris would be measured and the result made official during October’s Town Council meeting, but he wagered the volume of rubbish cleared exceeded the amount left by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“I’m getting a little tired of doing this every September/October,” Weaver shrugged.
The Council approved funds for the cleanup by emailed votes in some cases, Weaver said. He was quick to point out it was appropriate under the circumstances, and the work was already underway by the time of the meeting. Bulldozers made piles, and four front loaders and two grapple trucks worked their way through four zones to get the island up to snuff. Dorian also impacted the town’s agenda for the meeting.
“The last thing I just wanted to note for the record, otherwise we aren’t going to talk about short-term rentals. That item was obviously taken off this agenda and will be on the October agenda. I just want to make clear, there are really two reasons why we took that item off this Council meeting’s agenda. The first reason is we scheduled this meeting very, very quickly, with only a little bit more than a day’s notice. … and I think all of us agreed that it would have been totally inappropriate to hold a discussion of the Town Council and potentially have a first vote on first reading of an ordinance with so little notice to our residents that we were actually scheduling a meeting. So I think we agreed it was not the appropriate thing to do, that it made more sense to defer that until October,” Weaver said.
“And the second reason is because, the fact is, we are listening to the comments that we are getting, whether it be phone calls or mail or any other forum. I think all the Council members are listening and paying attention. I think one of the opportunities we have by holding this off until next month is it will give the staff the opportunity and a few more weeks to consider and think about some of the feedback and information we’ve got and put us in a better position to maybe respond to some of the questions that we’re getting, for clarification,” added Weaver, who then kicked off citizens’ comments.
There were no takers, but there was a presentation on the 2020 census conducted by Town of Kiawah Island Planning Director John Taylor. He provided some statistics on which states had the highest and lowest populations, the distribution of South Carolina’s population and which states are projected to lose, gain or retain congressional seats.
He emphasized the importance of completing census documents, which help guide federal policies on subjects including:
- Apportionment of congressional seats;
- Drawing congressional and state voting districts;
- Enforcing voting and civil rights legislation;
- Distributing federal dollars;
- Informing businesses on where to locate.
Detailed information is available by visiting census.gov.
The Town Council voted unanimously in favor of ordinance 2019-06 for the second time. The act will add the celebrated Sea Level Rise Adaptation Report to the town’s comprehensive plan.
Ordinance 2019-05 also passed a second reading unanimously. The measure will ban drones and model aircraft from Kiawah for the sake of privacy.
Council also discussed:
- A new truck for Jim Jordan and the Wildlife Department;
- A continuation of a contract with Phillips and Jordan for debris removal;
- A contract with Summit Cleaning Services.
New business consisted of updating the Night Heron Park Franchise Agreement. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort wants to add adult-sized tricycles for resort guests. The rub is that they want to put them on the beach, which is not currently permitted. Kiawah Island Golf Resort Director of Recreation Liz King explained the “trikes” will benefit older visitors but are too big for the bike trails. She said they will only be ridden on the beach and will be stored at the park in the evenings. The updated agreement was approved.
The final act of new business was the addition of Kiawah Island Community Association Security Chief Tony Elder and Kiawah resident Bonnie MacDonald to the Public Safety Committee.
The town administrator’s report featured Stephanie Tillerson commenting that Kiawah Island’s plastics ban was officially in effect. Details are available by visiting kiawahisland.org/wp-content/ uploads/2019/05/Draft-Town-Single-usePlastic-Ordinance1.pdf.
Council member Maryanne Connelly provided the only committee report. She said quick response vehicles were now roaming the island. The county is the only entity authorized to transport patients, which is a problem because of the island’s distance from a hospital. In 2009, it was an hour before help arrived for a person suffering with chest pains. The county responded by adding QRVs to its arsenal and allocating two QRVs to station 10 – Betsy Kerrison. The only problem is that they are committed to the county.
The “dynamic deployment system” is utilized when emergency personnel are activated. When a call comes in and resources from one station respond, there’s a gap. Resources from surrounding stations collapse around the now empty location.
The effect is that county resources near Kiawah may be called on to fill these gaps, leaving Kiawah vulnerable.