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Apr 08 2015

Sullivan’s Island Council Candidates Address Issues

By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor

Residents of Sullivan’s Island will go to the polls Tuesday, May 5 to vote for 3 open seats on the Town Council. The council is comprised of 6 councilmembers and the mayor. Two incumbent councilmembers are running for re-election, Mary Jane Watson and Jerry Kaynard. Hartley Cooper is stepping down.

Due to the passing of Mayor Perkis last year and the subsequent election of incumbent councilman Pat O’Neil as Mayor, there is also a 2 year seat on council open (filling the remaining time in O’Neil’s term). The election to fill that that seat is also being held on May 5.

Island Eye News posed the following questions to all the candidates running for Town Council. Their responses are below, divided into those seeking one of the three, 4 year seats and those seeking the single, 2 year seat.

1. What is your position on the proposition of a managed, paid parking plan on the island?

2. Do you agree with the current Town Council policy that an island-wide 100ft transition zone be established in the accreted land/Maritime Forest? If not, how do you think it should be managed?

3. Do you believe the coyotes on the island pose a significant threat to people? What do you think the Town should be doing to manage the population?

4. The Town has been dealing with significant capital improvement projects in last year (Town Hall / Sewer System/new Fire Truck). What other improvement projects, if any, would you like to see the Town embark on in the coming 4 years?

5. What is your position on the management of

the Town’s commercial center? Do you believe it should be allowed to expand in anyway?

In the next edition of Island Eye News candidates will answer questions on lawsuits, Planning and Zoning and communication.

CANDIDATES FOR 4 YEAR TERM

Mark Howard

Mark Howard

1) Parking: I believe the current paid parking program being studied is heading in the wrong direction. Simply stated: Paid parking is commercialization. To implement this plan will put a commercial value on every parking space on the entire Island and overlooks our fundamental tenet: we are a single family residential community.

I support a simpler plan that reflects a friendlier attitude for everyone. My proposal is: Parking Island-wide on one side of the street only. With this plan our major concerns are met in its design. It limits density and increases safety in an easy to implement format. I understand that the SCDOT has the final approval on this matter. I hope we can convince department officials that “One Side Only” has many benefits for all parties.

There are many concerns that need to be addressed. As an example, I believe paid parking is proper within the commercial district, as well as in the municipal parking lots. Many explanations and refinements are sure to come with time. This plan—“One Side Only”—preserves the residential nature of our streets while it continues free parking for our visiting neighbors; a friendly and welcoming policy towards all.

2) Accreted Land: I do not agree with this one size fits all approach to the transition zonecurrently being proposed by Town Council. It breaks down the initial good faith work the Land Use and Natural Resources Committee has spent years developing. The accreted land was placed in sections so that a plan could be developed to adjust practices dependent on the stage of natural development within each zone. This plan was developed utilizing scientific and management practices to benefit both natural development and land use for everyone. This was simply a land grab of the public’s property. We have a duty as a party to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust to practice better land use methods. Our management plan should be principled, guided by the experts, and reflect all concerns with a conservation based foundation.

3) Coyotes: It would be foolish to say coyotes are not a possible threat to anyone at any given time. One should always be alert now that a coyote population has appeared on the Island. Coyotes are everywhere in this country and successful in adaptation, so much so that are afforded no protection by any Federal or State organizations. They will not receive any on Sullivan’s Island either. That being said, I believe the Island has done a good job in its initial response to the problem. The coyote population is being closely monitored and recorded by the police. Cameras are available for use to the public to confirm any suspicions of activity in residential areas. The public is encouraged to hire professional trappers in private yards.

The Island goal here is not the protection of coyotes, but the concern that we do not hurt each other in any unwise actions taken by individuals.

4) Improvement Projects: After the current capital expenses that have been taken on by the Town, my initial response would be to stand down and take account of our current situation. As an Island, our growth and future income has limitations. I feel we are in a safe financial situation currently, but moving forward only with caution on expenses is the proper response right now. The infrastructure is our present concern.

The sewer plant is a major concern. We are currently making an application for a Federal grant and if that comes through additional funds will be required. There are many things I would have on the wish list for the Island. I would like to see some advances in access to the marsh side of the Island, and landscape beautification work at the Island’s entrance and signage. However, at this time, infrastructure is our main concern.

5) Commercial District: Expansion of the Town’s commercial center should be done only to fulfill a proven Island need. I believe a review of the Commercial Overlay District is in order. Parking, height, and square footage requirements need improvements.

Future construction must address these major concerns. More historic consideration and protection should be given to this area.

Some new development on certain lots, e.g. the post office, are sure to arise in the future and advanced planning is now required with more input from the public.

Jerry Kaynard

Jerry Kaynard

1) Parking: I do not want to charge people to park at the beach. I’d rather see a plan that reduces the number of cars that come to the beach. We are a popular destination and the number of visitors will increase over time. State law requires public access be guaranteed by local government. The town’s primary obligation is to protect our residents and guests when crowds seriously threaten health and safety. Explosive growth nearby has increased car traffic causing congestion and more accidents. Crowds impede our fire, police and first responder’s access for lifesaving medical, fire, and safety services.

We should continue to explore alternatives for a regional approach to reduce the number of cars coming to our beach. I have suggested parking cars in Mt. Pleasant with a trolley shuttle express to our beach. Once IOP adopts a paid, parking plan, we will be overwhelmed with cars from IOP if we are not prepared to manage the increased traffic. I am suggesting a regional solution, with county participation.

We also need to hire a consultant to prepare a traffic study and parking plan so we can apply to the SC Department of Transportation for approval. If a paid managed parking plan is part of the solution, then I will vote to implement it.

2) Accreted Land: The Town has not yet adopted a complete management plan, while the size of the accreted land has increased substantially with unmanaged growth since 1991. Town Council has agreed to remove 15 invasive species, create two educational walking paths, conduct periodic “clean-up” walkabouts, clear emergency paths and allow adjacent landowners to clear their beach footpaths.

Council has also agreed to create a transition buffer zone between the accreted land and adjacent landowners and remove myrtles which are overgrown and overwhelming all other species. I agree with the Transition Zone plan to meet the needs and concerns of the adjacent landowners, who constitute a neighborhood with specific problems and needs. I am for protecting priority trees, including Grande Trees and all palmettos in the transition zone.

There is a precedent for transition zones in our community. Residential lots have front, back and side setbacks, a form of transition zone or buffer. When we designed the new Sullivan’s Island Elementary School, we provided a buffer zone on the east and west boundaries of 100 feet or more. Council should be good neighbors and be responsive to neighborhood special needs.

With about 200 acres of accreted land, we can protect every kind of environment, ranging from mature maritime forest to dune fields for bird nesting and wildflowers.

3) Coyotes: I have advocated for a more aggressive action policy by Town Council since this problem developed over a year ago.

Coyotes are no longer seen occasionally, but are reported by residents as roaming through yards daily with increasing boldness. My dog, Banjo, has been attacked twice by coyotes.

The number of coyotes has increased and they have killed pets, rabbits and other wildlife on the island. Twenty people, including joggers, have been bitten by coyotes in the Denver area. I recommend that we adopt policies that have worked in other communities including:

Education of residents to stop feeding coyotes, intentionally or unintentionally;

Place warning signs where coyotes have been seen; and

Reduce the coyote population by using best practices that were tested and work in other communities.

Coyotes are wild animals. They are dangerous predators and will kill for food at any time. They are territorial and will attack to defend their dens. Coyotes represent a deadly threat to our beloved turtles—they eat the turtle eggs. Our children and pets cannot play freely and safely in their own backyards.

Government has an obligation to act when its residents, their pets and our guests are at risk. We must provide a safe environment.

4) Improvement Projects: The Sullivan’s Island Park Foundation has proposed substantial improvements to the J. Marshall Stith Park. I favor improved maintenance for the Park and adoption of the projects as recommended by the Park Foundation. These include a terrace and improvements to the mound, upgrading the road to the mound, removing invasive plants to improve views at the top of the mound, install new hardscape and plantings through the park, install irrigation in the gazebo area, add benches and sitting areas, add a passive walkway at the top of the mound with historical markers and add fitness stations in the park.

I have advocated for improvements to the Island Club, so that its use for children, seniors and all residents can be expanded.

It needs new bathrooms, new wiring and fixtures, and windows on both walls to allow natural light. Suggestions include opening the ceiling to expose beams and adding an exterior deck. Landscaping is needed to improve a worn, aging exterior together with painting. The Island Club can be a first class community center that we all enjoy and are proud of.

I would add to the capital improvement projects more upgrading and extensions of our boardwalks to the beach. I would add sidewalks, where we have heavy pedestrian traffic.

5) Commercial District: I support a small, appropriate commercial district that serves the needs of our residents. It is now a sufficient size and I oppose any expansion of the commercial district.

I have invested in our community’s commercial district and I’m very proud that the businesses that lease from me provide service that residents’ value—a creative and community-minded architectural firm, a friendly gas station, a fitness center that is a great place to work out. None has ever been controversial. We need a commercial district to be more than a bedroom community but we need to be sure it stays small and is regulated for the benefit of our residents.

Traffic and congestion continues to be a challenge in the commercial district. Parking on Middle Street is usually available within two blocks. With the current regulations in place, new businesses should not substantially increase the traffic in the commercial three-block district. We all enjoy the services provided. Increased use of bikes and golf carts to get to the business district may reduce some of the traffic congestion, while still permitting easy access.

Rita Langley

rita langley

1) Parking: As we all know, the population in the tri-county area is growing rapidly.

For 2013, Mt. Pleasant alone was the ninth fastest growing city in the United States. This growth is increasing congestion and traffic on our Island and other neighboring islands.

Adding to this situation is IOP’s intention to have paid parking. If IOP has paid parking, I believe more people will come to our island because our parking is free. This would add more congestion, parking woes, tax our infrastructure and our quality of life. A parking plan is needed but before we make any decisions, considerable public input and thoughtful dialogue is needed. One size does not fit all.

2) Accreted Land: Town Council adopted a set of basic principles to guide development of an improved Accreted Land Management Plan. These principles included a transition zone as a good neighbor policy that would minimize fire hazard, provide a buffer from unwanted wildlife and enhance breezes and sight lines. Town consultants emphasized that the Accreted Land varies substantially in depth (from 100 ft. to over 800 ft.) and in vegetation (from forest to shrub and grassland) and management strategies should also differ from area to area. The Land Use and Natural Resources (LUNR) Committee adopted this strategy in planning transition zones that vary for different beachfront areas. The shoreline is not a straight line and it makes sense for the transition zones to emulate this changing shoreline. I cannot agree with this one-sizefits- all, 100 feet transition zone for the entire beachfront.

3) Coyotes: I attended the Planning Committee meeting where the wildlife biologist from DNR was invited to speak. He explained in detail the biology and behavior of coyotes living in urban/ suburban areas.

He assured us that coyotes do not pose a serious risk to us and that the town’s current management plan is effective in controlling the population. The biologist also explained that our area will always be an attractive habitat for coyotes. The biologist stressed and I agree that we need to continue educating citizens on living with coyotes and continue to study and collect data on occurrences and population trends.

I agree with the town’s current plan to deal with coyotes. Traps have been set and cameras are monitoring specific coyote areas.

The town will hire appropriate professionals to trap coyotes on Town property if necessary. Also, individual residents can contract with a professional to trap coyotes on their property if necessary.

4) Improvement Projects: We have spent considerable time and money on much needed capital improvements in the last few years. Sewage/water is in need of additional improvements. I understand these improvements will be paid for by a grant and the Town has allocated the remainder of the funds. The focus should now be on effective oversight of these major projects—new town hall and upgrades to the water treatment facility—to make sure that they come in on time and on budget. I would like to see improvements in communication starting with live streaming of town council meetings. This is overdue. As a member of council I would be committed to spending residents’ money wisely.

4) Commercial District: I support our quaint island atmosphere which includes our limited commercial district. I believe Sullivan’s Island has more than an adequate commercial district for its size. We should continue to evaluate a long term vision for the commercial district and make sure our ordinances reflect this vision for the Island.

For example, last year the town council passed an ordinance banning chain restaurants. Also, after considerable public input and discussion we passed an ordinance that allows for a limited number of coffee shops. I applaud this effort as a demonstration of the town’s commitment to fostering a commercial district that considers the needs of locals as well as tourist.

5) Commercial District: I support our quaint island atmosphere which includes our limited commercial district. I believe Sullivan’s Island has more than an adequate commercial district for its size. We should continue to evaluate a long term vision for the commercial district and make sure our ordinances reflect this vision for the Island.

For example, last year the town council passed an ordinance banning chain restaurants. Also, after considerable public input and discussion we passed an ordinance that allows for a limited number of coffee shops. I applaud this effort as a demonstration of the town’s commitment to fostering a commercial district that considers the needs of locals as well as tourist.

Bachman Smith IV

Bachman Smith IV

1) Parking: Paid parking is an excellent idea that could be a source of revenue for the town as well as a solution to safety concerns regarding accessibility for emergency vehicles and Island residents as well as alleviating traffic. While implementation in the immediate future may be desired there are concerns regarding cost, available parking, re-vamped parking ordinances upon which enforcement is based, and right-of-way encroachments, among others that need further vetting and/ or leg-work. We should not be concerned with beating the Isle of Palms to the punch by rolling out a plan before them. We should be a good neighbor and work with the Isle of Palms for reasons of economy through cost savings and for ease of implementation/ transition with our visitors knowing paid parking is a reality on both islands.

2) Accreted Land: No, I do not agree with the current Town Council policy that an islandwide 100 foot transition zone be established in the accreted land. I believe the 100 foot transition zone is arbitrary, not supported by scientifically based recommendations, and in contradiction to the working plan to address the accreted land through the use of different units that have been identified and are still being refined. The accreted land at one Station is vastly different than that which has accreted at another Station in both size (depth) and vegetative make-up.

Management Plan includes a range of recommended transition zones for each unit with two of the four units having an upper end of 100ft and the other two maxing out at 40ft. Further, the working proposal specifically calls out the need to consider erosion when setting the transition zones. I find it difficult to understand how a Town policy can be so completely unsupported by the very plan upon which it is supposed to be based. It is even more troubling to me that a policy establishing the 100ft transition zone, if implemented to its fullest with the more aggressive management allowed therein could prove harmful to the property owners abutting these areas when erosion inevitably occurs.

Simply put, this is not a one size fits all issue and the establishment of transition zones should be guided by the working proposal as currently written.

The management of all coastal property should be treated as the coast behaves or evolves and that is dynamically rather than rigidly.

3) Coyotes: I do not believe coyotes pose a significant threat to people. I also believe one’s concerns that coyotes are a threat should not be dismissed as unfounded. This is a difficult question to answer considering, from a legal stand point, coyotes cannot be poisoned or relocated.

From a practical position they cannot be shot or otherwise killed via trap in their current island habitat. (I am thinking of my youth during which I covered every square inch of the island and shudder to think of what harm could inadvertently befall some young adventurous souls making their own paths throughout the island.)

Fortunately, while we are unique we are not the only small town in America to have to deal with coyotes. In fact, we do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to problem solving across the board. While I do not have the solution, I do believe this issue should be addressed with the larger picture in mind. We should consider that, according to historical data, more than 1,000 people per day must seek medical attention to treat a domestic dog bite. Framing the coyote discussion with this data gives me pause and demands we be careful of the path we choose when addressing coyotes and management thereof.

4) Improvement Projects: We should explore burying power lines throughout the island to include the causeway. Understanding that water is more of a threat to power lines than wind this would be a difficult and likely expensive undertaking but this should not deter us from at least exploring the possibility.

5) Commercial District: The commercial district should not be expanded from its geographical confines, and the businesses therein should not be treated as second class citizens. It is important to keep in mind these businesses are an important part of our tax base. It is also important that the businesses keep in mind their success, in large part, is due to their location on the Island. We should work with the business owners to identify and address concerns before they become issues that require reactionary measures.

As it is all but certain that a paid parking plan will be put in place we must keep in mind that allowing expanded use within the commercial district does not necessarily translate into greater traffic. The Town has done a very good job of managing the commercial district and keeping it confined. Eliminating weekly rentals stopped the issue of nuisance (more commonly associated with the commercial district) from spilling into the residential areas. Maintaining a geographical boundary for the commercial district not only helps preserve the Island residents’ quality of life, it increases the value and quality of those few establishments we are lucky enough to have on our Island.

Mary Jane Watson

MJ Watson

1) Parking: With the continued growth of the East Cooper area, parking for year-round beach visitors becomes a challenge for the Town. In addition to added burden of expenses to the Town General Fund to provide for those visitors, it is critical that the Town manage how and where vehicles are parked in order to facilitate ingress/egress as well as the movement of first responder equipment around the Island.

2) Accreted Land: The Town has been working for a number of years to develop a management plan that will protect the natural maritime environment while at the same time provide access and view corridors to residents and visitors. The transition zone was a result of many years of work by several Town Councils. Council voted for the concept of a 100ft transition earlier this year. Vegetation to be cleared from the transition zone has yet to be determined.

A recently commissioned tree survey will allow Council to complete a more detailed study of the transition zone and analyze what is appropriate for removal. Additionally, findings may indicate that the transition zone is either adequate or that adjustments are necessary.

3) Coyotes: Unlike many other suburban areas, coyotes are relatively new to the Island. Over the last two or three years sightings have increased.

However, science tells us that eradication is unlikely and understanding co-existence is essential. Staff has crafted a plan to manage the population and if necessary eliminate problem animals. South Carolina DNR and the Humane Society guidance is incorporated into the management plan. Safety of Island residents is the fundamental theme in the plan.

4) Improvement Projects: Although the town does not own the roads, we will need to work closely with the DOT to improve stormwater drainage and maintenance of the roads.

5) Commercial District: The physical boundary of the commercial district has not changed in 60 years. There is no discussion to expand the district and zoning ordinances are very restrictive with regard to increasing the size of existing commercial buildings. The town continues to defend the zoning ordinance with regard to the physical expansion of buildings.

CANDIDATES FOR 2 YEAR TERM

Sarah Church

Sarah Church

1) Parking: I support a paid parking plan only if the following criteria are met:

Public Input: The residents of Sullivan’s Island have had ample time to voice their individual concerns prior to implementation. The concerns of residents living near beach access paths or near the commercial district will be different than those living on the quieter, marsh side of SI. We need to ensure all residents have had a chance for their concerns to not only be heard, but also considered. As a resident, I support a paid parking plan. As a member of council, I will need to hear from the residents before making any commitment.

No Hardship: We must find a plan that will not place hardship on our residents. The purpose of the managed parking plan is to relieve burden, not create it. It is imperative that we find ways to accommodate parking for guests of residents, church goers, and other special situations.

2) Accreted Land: I support the three years of progress that was made by the Land Use and Natural Resources Committee (LUNR) in developing a management plan, which includes a transition zone that varies in depth, dependent on the depth and vegetation of the particular stretch of land, as determined by experts. While a 100-foot transition zone may be appropriate where there is an 800 foot stretch of thick forest, it is not appropriate for a section that would be nearly, or entirely, encompassed by that 100 feet.

I am confident we can complete a management plan that protects and enhances this valuable public resource, and also includes compromises for the front row homeowners that will have low impact to the natural environment. This plan should be developed through the LUNR committee with open discussion, scientific input, and careful consideration.

3) Coyotes: If a particular coyote exhibits aggression or becomes overly comfortable in close proximity to people, it should definitely be removed. But according to experts, randomly killing non-aggressive coyotes could cause substantially more harm than good. Removal of an alpha-coyote can cause a population explosion because the remaining male coyotes start breeding in attempt to become the next alpha male.

According to our Chief of Police, coyote sightings have dramatically decreased, just as they did last spring. This is the typical cycle for coyotes, according to the SC DHEC coyote expert when he spoke to the Planning Commission on February 11. There were several other important aspects to his presentation:

Impossible to eradicate: According to the wildlife experts, it is impossible to get rid of the coyotes. Even if you are successful in removing one pack, the void will quickly be filled in by new coyotes. They can easily cross over from Mt. Pleasant, so even living on an island, we will never be coyote-free.

No threat to humans: The very rare coyote attacks in the United States have been by rabid coyotes. We have not had a substantial rabies outbreak on Sullivan’s Island.

4) Improvement Projects: I think we have our hands (and budget) full with the current projects! It will be important for Council to follow the current projects very closely to be sure they stay on budget, and include the promised elements. The new Town Hall should provide public restroom access from the park. Our new meeting space for Council and Committee meetings should be outfitted to either livestream or video tape meetings for residents to access on the town website. This will give the public a greater opportunity to be informed and engaged in our current issues and projects. Of course it is impossible to predict what will come our way in the next four years, but I don’t anticipate any major new projects.

5) Commercial District: The Commercial Center should not be allowed to expand. Our commercial district is already congested with traffic and parking issues. As a town, we should mindful of supporting our current businesses, but our island has no room for further growth. It was welcome news from our Zoning Administrator that there were no discussions on expanding the commercial district—nor are there any new applications for business licenses. There is very limited space left in the commercial center, and I would not support any expansion of this area.

Dave Spurgin

Dave Spurgin

1) Parking: I strongly believe that we need to rein in parking on the island. This can be accomplished without going through the expense of a paid parking system. I would support parking only on one side of the street, designating resident-only parking, creating golf cart parking near beach paths, consider paid meter parking in the commercial district, eliminating town parking lots, changing parking ordinances to read that vehicles must have all 4 wheels off of the pavement, increased parking fines, and encouraging the police department to strictly enforce our current parking ordinances. Implementing some or all of these strategies would go a long way towards improving our parking problem.

2) Accreted Land: The accreted land is for the benefit of all island residents. No one group or property owner should have more say over how this valuable resource should be managed.

We have a responsibility to protect and preserve our natural environment while making sure that we are managing it in a way that attracts wildlife, enhances property values, and protects its natural development. Allowing specific residents or groups to dictate how this land is managed is not acceptable when the land is meant for the benefit of all residents.

I believe that by allowing property owners to encroach onto the accreted land via transition zones, with no master plan in place for the area as a whole, is essentially allowing individual property rights to supersede the rights of island residents to public land. In my opinion, this goes against the very spirit of why the land was initially placed into a trust. There was a real risk that Charleston County was going to claim the land for its own use and we would have lost complete control over how it would have been developed. Those on the front beach benefited from this action because it stopped any negative growth from happening in front of their residences and conservationists were rewarded with a maritime forest that could be enjoyed for generations to come. I sympathize with the homeowners who have been impacted by this action, but feel that all past land use practices were trumped once the land was placed into a trust. The LUNR committee developed a comprehensive plan on how to manage the land, and we should support their recommendations.

I realize that this is a fiercely contested issue, and I doubt that any one plan will satisfy everyone concerned with it; but I do know that we must put this issue behind us in order to move forward in a positive way.

We have been discussing how to manage this land for over 20 years now. Attempting to do so through individual agenda items is not working. It is time to end the debate on how to handle this land through real compromise or a town referendum.

3) Coyotes: I have done significant research on this issue and do not believe coyotes pose an immediate threat to people on the island. The few cases in which coyotes have bitten someone can be primarily attributed to people attempting to feed or tame them.

Although that is not always the case, you have a better chance of being bitten by a shark than a coyote. That is not to say, in any way, that being approached by a coyote is not a traumatic experience. You might also consider that, since their arrival, we have seen a significant drop in nuisance animals entering our attics and crawl spaces.

The protection of our pets is probably of greater concern for island residents. There have been numerous communities who have tried to control their coyote problem via trapping or killing. It has been discovered that neither approach is an effective approach.

In fact, it usually leads to an even greater population returning within short order. Raising fence height is impractical since coyote entry points into yards are usually through an opening or by the animal digging under an obstacle.

The best course of action is to educate yourself on what you can do to prevent a negative coyote encounter. Coyotes are not going away, but we can learn to live with them in harmony.

4) Improvement Projects: It is less about what I would like to see and more about how we are going to pay for it. Besides the projects noted above, we still lack a solution for our crumbling waste water treatment plant and infrastructure, the aging firehouse, numerous historic fortifications that continue to deteriorate, and a host of smaller projects that will need to be addressed in the future.

We currently have no long term financial plan as to how we are going to meet future and immediate capital needs. As a business owner, this scares the heck out of me. As a resident it scares me even more! I plan for future expenses that are outside the scope of my normal operating budget. Instead of saving money for future expenses, the current Town Council thinks issuing long term bonds is the best financial solution. The problem is that we have maxed out our ability to issue bonds without a referendum. We still have not figured out how to pay for the eight million dollars it will take to up-fit our waste water treatment plant. Town Council continues to spend money on what seem to be pet projects while not taking into consideration how we are going to pay for the repair or replacement of the infrastructure we now have. This is a recipe for disaster. We keep adding future debt while not being able to solve our current financial issues. We need to prioritize what is most important to island residents and build a sound plan around what they find most critical.

I doubt most residents know that a portion of their water bill will go to paying for expenses related to the new Town Hall and other capital expenditures for the next 15 years. Town Council makes decisions that prevent water rates from ever dropping which, in effect, actually resemble a tax increase. A tax that, based on usage rates, is applied unevenly to all residents.

This is a decision that residents should have had significant input on. It amazes me that the current Town Council opted to take a bond out for the new town hall, which is something we did not immediately need, in lieu of replacing a waste water treatment plant, which is something we cannot live without.

5) Commercial District: The town could have done a much better job of managing the commercial district. The primary purpose of having this district is to encourage businesses that will support the needs of residents. It seems that our current council is more interested in meeting the needs of county residents instead of the needs of island residents.

We not only have to deal with parking, traffic, lawsuits, and noise related to current commercial activities, but we have to deal with being unable to enjoy existing services due to overcrowding.

As a town council member I would not support any changes to our ordinances that contribute to our existing problems. We need to have a solid mix of businesses that meet the needs of residents first without compounding our traffic and parking issues. As a business owner, I sympathize with the existing establishments.

Still, I do not believe adding more restaurants or multi-use developments will in anyway solve our problem. How the commercial district develops will have an immediate and long lasting effect on our quality of life for years to come.

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