By Emma Woodham for The Island Eye News
Following the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Isle of Palms City Council, Mayor Carroll asked for any citizen’s comments. Ed Gwilt of 4 25th Ave. has been trying to build a new home on his lot for months now. When he began taking the necessary steps with the Water & Sewer Department to obtain approval for his building permit, the instructions he received on how to achieve his goal changed numerous times.
Despite doing all that was asked and trying to pay the necessary fees, he still has no building permit. While Mr. Gwilt understands that the city does not have authority over the Water & Sewer Department, he believes that the two need to work more closely together because it’s very difficult to accomplish anything.
“All we want to do is build our house,” Gwilt said.
Joe Settimio of 45th Ave. complained to the council about off-island dogs. He says he recently visited the island dog park and was bitten by a dog that he believes belonged to a nonisland resident. Settimio would like to see the city require dog licenses that non-island residents are required to purchase. He would also like to see aggressive dogs prevented from visiting the beaches and the local dog park.
Coyote issues were the biggest concern for Patricia Ryan, a resident of Forest Trail Court 1. Ryan feels that the council is not doing enough to rid the island of coyotes. She pointed out that so far, trapping the animals hasn’t been very successful, and she believes that the problem has gotten so bad that her small dogs are basically coyote bait. She believes the animals must be exterminated and quickly.
Steven Traynum of Coastal Science & Engineering updated the council on the progress of the beach re-nourishment project. To date, approximately one million cubic yards of sand have been distributed on the beach so far, and the project should wrap up soon. City Council is still waiting on FEMA approval for extra funds that would allow for more sand on the beach, but the window for that opportunity has almost passed. City Administrator Linda Tucker thanked the Isle of Palms Police Department for making sure that curious people are not allowed too close to the work site.
Councilmember Jimmy Ward reviewed the recent Ways & Means Committee meeting, noting that some discussion took place about the possibility of charging for parking along Palm Blvd.
A motion was made to purchase new Ford Interceptors for the police department from Benson Ford Nissan, a cost the city had budgeted for. The other main item that the committee reviewed was the agreement with the Palms Hotel to allow its guests to park in the Municipal Parking Lot. Ward believes a few more tweaks to the contract are still needed. Councilmember Kinghorn asked what provisions had been made to allow the city to cancel the contract if the lot was needed unexpectedly. The City Attorney noted that the contract was for one-year but could be canceled with sixty days’ notice. A motion was made, and the contract was approved.
Councilmember Susan Hill Smith reported on the February meeting of the Public Safety Committee. Changes to city ordinances regarding noise were discussed, particularly that of construction noise that is affecting many residents. She added that the IOP Fire Department will soon need to replace its ladder truck, something that was not budgeted for this year.
Smith also provided an update on the coyote issue, agreeing that the coyotes are too comfortable on the island. She added that an expert on the subject has suggested conducting studies to determine the minimum number of coyotes on the island. Councilmember Randy Bell expressed his own frustrations with the trapping efforts and thinks the city needs to take a more aggressive approach in dealing with the growing coyote population, even if that means utilizing professional hunters. “I don’t think we’re going to trap our way out of this,” Bell said.
Councilmember Ted Kinghorn reviewed the Public Works committee meeting, offering some updates about the drainage issues on 32nd Ave. Jurisdiction of the area has been debated, but it has now been determined that Corps of Engineers does not have jurisdiction, so the committee will continue to investigate. The Phase II Drainage Project is moving along, despite some complications, and should be done sometime in June. The Public Works committee has also reviewed the scope of their duties and decided that it is in need of a name change. If passed, the committee would be called Environmental, Public Works, and Infrastructure Committee. The committee also recommended abandoning the twenty-foot drainage easement over property owned by Lowe Wild Dunes Investors, and the motion passed unanimously.
Councilmember Ryan Buckhannon, Chairman of the Recreation Committee, noted that the city’s Easter Egg Hunt will be on Saturday, March 31 and that discussion about the 2018 Farmers Market is currently underway.
For the Personnel Committee, Administrator Tucker noted that the fire department will soon have a vacancy and that the city is working on refining the Education Reimbursement Program, which provides city employees in good standing with means to achieve higher education. Tucker reported on the Real Property meeting, stating that Tidalwave Watersports’ Safety Handbook was adopted by the Watersports Industry Association of America and Lloyds of London as guidelines for water safety training worldwide, an accomplishment of which the city should be proud. Also, Michael Fiem’s idea of creating an IOP Adventures where tourists could book different activities at a location on Front Beach and potentially be shuttled from there to Tidalwave or other locations really isn’t feasible for the 2018 season. City codes would need to be changed, and the committee doesn’t believe it’s possible to get the necessary changes sorted out before tourist season kicks off.
Following the committee reports, Mayor Carroll presented the second reading of Ordinances 2017-07, 2017-08, 2017-09, and 2017-10. These ordinances relate to the elevation requirements for residential and non-residential construction and requiring new construction or any residents doing substantial improvements to their homes to tie into the public sewer line. Mayor Carroll asked that the council defer these readings until it can be better educated on the issues. Councilmember Sandy Ferencz suggested a meeting between the Water & Sewer Commission, Planning Commission, and City Council. Councilmember Kinghorn requested that the council not defer these items too long. The motion to defer these second readings was approved.
First reading, by title only, of Ordinance 2018-02 was presented to the council. This amendment would chance the tile of the Public Works Committee to Environmental, Public Works, and Infrastructure Committee.
Councilmember Ferencz did not oppose changing the name of the committee but felt council should examine the scope of all the different committees to see if any of the others warranted name changes and then pass all the changes at once.
Councilmember Buckhannon agreed with her. Councilmember Kinghorn, Chairman of the Public Works Committee, suggested that this first name change act as a model for the rest, but the council voted to defer this until a more thorough examination of all the committees and what they oversee could be conducted.
The last order of business that Mayor Carroll presented was the Charleston County Transportation Sales Tax grant award. In 2017, funds were allocated to the city of Isle of Palms for the purpose of constructing a sidewalk on the western side of 28th Ave. The plan would connect the Rec Center sidewalk to the Palm Blvd. sidewalk. Mayor Carroll says he does not see the need for that sidewalk and made a motion that the city should not use the funds awarded by Charleston County. Councilmember Carol Rice stated that anytime the city can add sidewalks, particularly on 28th Ave. where many people walk back and forth, it should. Administrator Tucker added that if the city does not use the funds, the rejection has the potential to affect any future awards from Charleston County.
Councilmember Kinghorn called on Chief of Police Thomas Buckhannon, asking if additional sidewalks on the island is beneficial for safety. Chief Buckhannon briefly stated that anytime recreation is occurring, having a sidewalk to channel that recreation along is preferred. Secondly, Councilmember Kinghorn called on the director of the Rec Center, Norma Jean Page, to ask if she thought a sidewalk on 28th Ave. will be beneficial.
“Do you think that having a sidewalk in the location that was applied for, approved by council, and about to begin construction going to the Rec Center is a good thing for families, children, and seniors?” Kinghorn asked.
Page told council that in the summertime, Rec Center staff members often walk down 28th Ave. with summer campers. Usually they walk on the street, but Page said if a sidewalk was available, staff would certainly utilize it.
Mayor Carroll stated that he spoke to a member of the Charleston County council members who stated that Isle of Palms would not be penalized if the city didn’t use the funds. A vote was called for, and the motion to cancel the 28th Ave. sidewalk project was defeated. Mayor Carroll was the sole voter in support of canceling the project.
Councilmember Smith stated that she recently attended the Moultrie District 2 School Board meeting where some possible district changes that would potentially affect island residents were discussed. More information about that will be forthcoming.
The next meeting of the IOP City Council will be on Tuesday, March 27 at 6 p.m.