By Meredith Poston, Island Eye News Staff Writer
The July Isle of Palms City Council meeting began with discussion of the upcoming City sponsored farmers market, which begins on Thursday, Aug 31, at 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the county park. Parking for citizens and residents of the island will be available free of charge at the City Hall municipal lot.
Produce, arts and crafts, and music will be featured at the market. “Even if you don’t want to buy any arts and crafts or buy a cucumber, you can at least sit and enjoy the music that is being played,” said Mayor Cronin. Cronin then thanked Lewis Gregory and his volunteers for organizing the market, which will run through Oct 26, given community response.
Last month’s proposed SEALkids fundraiser event was approved; it will be a swimming exhibition to be held on Sept 9 at the Windjammer.
After making the opening statements, Mayor Cronin continued the meeting with the swearing in of several newly appointed employees of the City of Isle of Palms, including five police officers; an active officer and firefighter; an employee of the building department who will oversee handling the licensing and billing for the department; a communications specialist; and other personnel. “Don’t let them get you down,” said Mayor Cronin. “Some of these tourists can get a little antsy.”
Following the swearing in of the new employees was public comment. First to speak was a resident who wanted to address the marina makeover referendum that was approved by Council in June. “I’d like to know what additional income was realized during this time,” asked the concerned citizen. “I personally have issue with the 30-year lease; I just have been a business executive for a lot of years and have never seen anything like it. I have mentioned it before to Council, and frankly I find it irresponsible.” He continued, saying, “the Council has continued to offset marina expense for the last ten years in an average of about $500,000 from the general funds. General funds money is earmarked for tourist-specific expenditures. I do not think that offsetting marina lease expenditures and other things fall into that, in my mind. We now have an impending referendum based on lease terms that I think we should worry about… All I am asking is that when you look at this as citizens… take the time to understand what it means, and vote accordingly.”
Next to speak during public comment was Phillip Smith, an Isle of Palms resident who is also concerned about the impending marina development.
Smith has continually expressed displeasure to Council regarding lack of buffers between his neighborhood and the popular and therefore bustling water sports business located by his residence, stating that he has “been arguing with the Town and pleading with the Town about it since 2012, and here we are and its 2017.” He continued, saying that “under special exemptions… there are supposed to be proper buffers for residential properties and there isn’t… There are sometimes 50 to 75 people out there, and this is not what I consider a proper buffer.”
Michael Fiem, the owner of Tidal Wave Water Sports spoke next in defense of noise complaints made by IOP resident Smith. Since its start in the early 1990s, the water sports company has been in the same location by the Isle of Palms marina. The owner spoke of Smith’s complaints, stating that he and Smith had been on very good terms until personal instances drove them apart; according to the Tidal Wave owner, it was then that Smith began to complain about the business, calling it a nuisance.
Fiem continued, stating “Think about the fact that we were there first. In 1996, our 16 jet skis were there, and parasail boats were there, but he wanted to build anyway.” Council then went into executive session for legal advice regarding Ordinance 2017-05.
An ordinance was then proposed regarding whether to go into a binding/non-binding advisory referendum, granting the City proper flexibility with budgeting that will be inclusive of the proposed marina. Deference was made to redraft the ordinance to make it a binding referendum. The motion was passed with Councilmen Ted Kinghorn and Patrick Harrington opposing.
The treasurer’s report was then given by Mayor Cronin; budgeting is “relatively stable,” with revenues expected to come in comparable to last year’s incomes. “All of our funds are in excess of where we were last year. Capital projects, tourism funds, as well as beach preservation, etc. are the biggest kickers.”
Councilwoman Sandy Ferencz then gave the Public Works report, stating that the beach clean-up had been that month’s primary focus.
Discussion was made regarding a city compactor, which has become a health hazard as it has collected debris, drawing rats and other pestilential creatures to the location. A plan has been made to relocate the compactor and improve the locale, with further exploration and a “comprehensive study to be made.”
Real Property meeting details were provided by Councilwoman Barbara Bergwerf, who spoke of successful park and recreation developments, as well as an award by SCDOT to the marina for its efforts in the Adopt-a-Highway program. Additionally, the marina is taking part in a program, converting all containers and bags to paper.
Tidal Wave’s assistance and constant, quick response in distress calls was also mentioned by Bergwerf.
The meeting continued with discussion regarding the possibility of renovating the existing water sports dock to be the City dock. Tidal Wave Water Sports would be moved to a different dock, with the City moving to the existing sports dock. “This is still a work in process,” stated Mayor Cronin.
Councilwoman Carol Rice continued, saying “I do think that the City dock is such a wonderful asset that we can be so excited to tell people what we are doing.”