By Amy Mercer, Editor for Island Eye News
The final town council meeting for 2016 took place on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Councilmembers unanimously approved all 5 action items. Mayor O’Neil started off by offering a public acknowledgement of appreciation for the Thanksgiving luncheon that was provided to the staff by a group of residents. The Mayor reported on correspondence that included request to issue an official proclamation commemorating Jan. 22-28, 2017 as “The Town of Sullivan’s Island School Choice Week.” The request from Andrew Campanella, President National School Choice Week, stated that National School Choice Week shines a light on effective education options for children. A letter from Pratt-Thomas, Walker, the firm that has represented the town of Sullivan’s Island for years, stated that they were ceasing operations as of Dec. 15, and the new firm of Walker Gressette Freeman and Linton would take over. They promise to offer the same “quality representation,” and a seamless transition.
Joe Henderson, Zoning Administrator, reported the launch of the first phase of the “Comp. Plan re-write project.” The official title of this project is the Sullivan’s Island Comprehensive Plan and Joe and Lisa Darrow along with the Town’s Planning Commission will spend the next year and a half studying the existing plan and (while working with the Town’s citizenry) make decisions about what needs to be updated for the next plan.
“The Comprehensive Plan is a twenty-year planning horizon or blueprint for future growth of the Town. It describes what the citizens foresee as the future of the Town and expresses the goals and policies to guide that vision” said Henderson.
The document is updated every ten years and can be viewed on the town website. A steering committee will be formed and will conduct studies and make recommendations to Council. All Planning Commission meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend.
The finance committee approved minutes and Jason Blanton, Comptroller said that “we are right where we normally are this time of year.” He explained that the end of November is usually the lowest cash period and the Operating account, at $578,297.30, is “as low as it’s going to be.” The general fund relies on property taxes that are collected Dec. – March, and by January it will start climbing back up. Council approved the motion to withdraw the Town’s application for a loan from the SC State Revolving Fund to be used for Phase 2 of the I&I project to fix leaky sewer pipelines. Councilmember Susan Middaugh said “At present, groundwater leaking into the sewer pipes accounts for over half of the effluent treated at our wastewater treatment plant. Middaugh was the only vote against sidelining this work because she said “it will need to be done, sooner rather than later, and postponing the work will increase the cost.”
The Water and Sewer committee is getting estimates on Poe Avenue sewer replacements and Middaugh reported that the committee was making improvements to the original recommendations on the water base charge. This will be discussed further at the next council workshop. The fencing landscaping project that was reported at the Nov. 15 meeting is on hold until possibly January.
Sarah Church of the Recreation Committee said the opening day of the annual farmers market is April 6 and will run through June 29. Vendor applications are available online. The Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SIFARMERSMARKET/) is the best place to go for more information. You can also follow on twitter @simarket2016. Church reported a great turnout of about 150 adults and children at the annual Gingerbread decorating party on Dec. 11. The Dec. 15 event with best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe at Battery Gadsden was also a successful event with about 75 people who braved the cold weather to hear Monroe speak about her latest book, A Lowcountry Christmas. Council member Chauncey Clark, Mayor Pro Tem, commented on the book’s support of Pets for Vets, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports veterans with PTSD by locating, adopting and training shelter dogs as lifelong companions. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.