By Susan Hill Smith, Island Eye News Staff Writer
Isle of Palms City Council unanimously approved first reading of an updated parking ordinance for 2017 with some last minute changes in addition to those approved and reported on in November.
Council voted on the ordinance at its Feb. 28 meeting, with all nine members present except Jimmy Carroll. The ordinance will result in the following official changes:
• Each residence in a residential parking district can obtain one free book of 30 visitor parking permits a year and only after that will have to pay for them at $15 per book.
• The city’s Building Department can issue temporary permits for contractor vehicle parking for any construction projects requiring a building permit on residential properties located within a resident parking district.
• Any truck or vehicle providing repairs, deliveries or other services to a homeowner or long-term resident in a resident parking district may be allowed to park in those districts.
• Isle of Palms Marina patrons can park vehicles with attached boat trailers along the rights-of-way of 41st Avenue and Waterway Boulevard where parking is not otherwise prohibited, though a residential parking permit would be required in marked areas, which will now include the last stretch of Waterway before 41st.
• Fines related to the city’s paid parking kiosks, which caused much of the anger associated with last year’s parking changes, will be reduced to $25 this beach season, while tickets related to other parking violations will remain at $50.
In spring of 2016, the city introduced a parking overhaul that included establishing residential parking districts, and in the fall, the council held a public forum and considered the results. Council went ahead and approved some adjustments during a special November workshop, while directing staff to go back and work on solutions to other issues.
Previous changes approved by council included eliminating all street parking from 40th Avenue to 41st Avenue along Palm Boulevard because of safety issues at that bend. Council also converted some sections of 41st Avenue to residential parking only and considered eliminating parking on the side of 41st that caps the Forest Trail neighborhood because vehicles often tip over into a ditch that runs alongside of the avenue. However, council more recently decided to allow some parking along the section of 41st where the shoulder is wider.
New residential parking district decals for 2017 have arrived and will soon be available, replacing last year’s beach ball design decals, which were difficult to see once applied inside vehicles. This year, efforts are being made so that residents can order decals online through the city’s website and receive them by mail, but the setup has not been put in place yet. Decals are not needed until May 15, when enforcement of seasonal restrictions in residential areas begins.
Residential parking decals also allow for free parking in the city’s municipal parking lots by Front Beach. Otherwise, everyone should remember that even with a residential parking decal, other parking rules still apply, for example, those against double parking, as well as parking along curb sections painted yellow and within 15 feet of fire hydrants.
Council separately approved awarding more than $26,000 in contracts for two new parking kiosks in its lots, while noting that a recently announced price increase from $10 to $15 for parking at Charleston County’s Isle of Palms beach park from May through Labor Day will likely push more people to use the city’s nearby parking lots on Front Beach, where it costs $8 on weekdays and $10 on weekends during beach season.
BEACH RESTORATION DEVELOPMENTS
Council also voted unanimously to award a contract not to exceed $510,000 to Coastal Science and Engineering to assemble documents, manage bidding and supervise construction to complete an offshore beach restoration project with an estimated cost of over $15 million.
As of Feb. 1, the city was in receipt of 100 percent of the approximately $5 million in private stakeholder funding for the project, as outlined on the Beach Restoration page located under the Administration tab of the city’s website (iop.net). City Administrator Linda Tucker explained outside the meeting that 49 percent of those private stakeholder funds are from Wild Dunes Community Association members and approximately 27 percent comes from Wild Dunes resort.
Documentation of private stakeholder funds deposited to the Beach Restoration Account, together with the city’s budgeted commitment of approximately $2.8 million dollars, will be used to prove the local share of funding in the grant application the city is submitting to South Carolina Parks and Recreation Tourism.
The city, South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are also continuing to work together on a project worksheet that may establish FEMA’s participation on recovery expenses related to federal disaster declarations for Hurricane Joaquin, which inflicted torrential rains in 2015, and Hurricane Matthew, which skirted by Isle of Palms in 2016.
• Improvements to the public restrooms on Front Beach continue to move forward with council unanimously approving an additional $73,820 in expenditures that will include replacing toilets, sinks, urinals, door stalls and frames.
• Council voted unanimously in favor of adopting a revised Local Comprehensive Beach Management plan. The city originally adopted the plan in 2008 with subsequent approval from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. The full plan can be seen on the under the administration tab at iop.net.
• The city will spend up to $8,000 for stainless steel bike racks to be installed at City Hall, the Public Safety Building, Front Beach and the public restrooms.
• Resident Kevin Klemm of Sand Dollar Court appeared before council to push for a solution of long-term drainage issues on his street that may involve the formation of a sinkhole.
• Council members voted to rename the island’s Memory Park as Leola Hanbury Memorial Park in honor of Hanbury, who played an integral role in establishing the park. Hanbury, a beloved former member of the Isle of Palms City Council and otherwise active presence in the community, died in mid-February.
Councilmember Jimmy Ward made the motion, with others quickly chiming in to second it. “She was the mother of us,” Mayor Dick Cronin said as Ward and others agreed.