By Gregg Bragg for The Island Eye News
Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll welcomed everybody to the June 25 City Council meeting. He said everyone had been duly notified including the press in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. “It’s 6:00, let’s start on-time,” he said. Carroll then dispatched parliamentary obligations, approved minutes and opened the floor to citizens’ comments.
Joe Bodek of 65 Twin Oaks Lane had a couple of topics to cover. He thanked the new chief of police for his support, and for the great job he and his department did on his street in the early part of June, when thief-wannabes broke into the house of his 65-year-old neighbor. “We have a great police department… and fire department, too,” he said. He also spoke in support of an item on the agenda fining people for littering on the beach. “They have no idea what we go through to keep our beach clean,” he concluded.
Ginger Campbell of Tidal Wave Sports fame, and resident of 3907 Hartnett Blvd., also wanted to talk trash. “I’m really excited about the [plastic] ban. I’ve been doing the beach clean-ups. I think the ban will help get rid of some of the trash but will also get it in our… visitors’ heads; ‘hey maybe I should check all my trash out.’ I think the ban is going to be amazing… but we have to do something to lock down the trash cans,” she said.
Campbell went on the say that a recent storm pushed two of the cans into the ocean and had to be retrieved by her nephew. She also said one of the big problems on the beach was cigarette butts and floated the idea of banning smoking on the beach.
Michael, another Tidal Wave Sports employee and resident of 69 41st St. was also talking trash. He encouraged Council to consider staking trash cans to grounded posts and named a few examples the City could use. Michael also asked Council to find a semipermanent home for the company’s jet boat, recently displaced by a recommendation from the Ocean & Coastal Resource Management department (OCRM).
Kelly Thorvalson from the South Carolina Aquarium was next with a comment. She thanked Council for its plastics ban and segued into support for and a discussion of the beach sweeps. Thorvalson said the data collected by she and her colleagues while picking up trash on the beach was vital, especially before and after a plastic ban like IOP’s goes into effect. Thorvalson plans to use the data to convince the state legislature to forego further consideration of their now infamous “ban on plastics ban” bill.
Councilmember and Ways & Means Committee Chair Jimmy Ward delivered a rosy picture of the City’s finances to the tune about $1.25 million to the good.
Ward then moved to suspend the rules of order (approved unanimously) to immediately consider two of the most critical items before council;
- A motion for an across the board merit pay increase (effective in 2019) for City staff. It passed unanimously with very little discussion.
- A motion to approve ordinance 2019-10, the 2020 fiscal year budget.
It also passed unanimously and without raising taxes, but with plenty of discussion.
Councilmember Ted Kinghorn lamented the fact the 2020 budget did not mention or include funding for additions to the City’s sewer system. He posited the idea everyone should be on the City’s system by 2030. Kinghorn said seas are still going to rise, major rain events are still going to occur and the damage and costs associated with septic systems adding to the mix is something the city needs to plan for, he insisted.
Councilmember Randy Bell concurred with Kinghorn’s assessment. He made the observation: there are still 1,400 residences with septic systems on the island. Bell conceded the City had done all it could with the 2020 budget, but agreed it was time to expand the City’s sewer system. He made the observation the City couldn’t consider these large projects with[out] some form of additional revenue. Bell seemed to imply the City has not ignored the problem, however, saying money set aside for strategic planning could be leveraged to get the ball rolling, but cautioned attendees a full blown effort to expand the sewer system is on the horizon.
Councilmember Ferencz also tried to mitigate concerns, citing the existence of ordinances in the pipeline that will require sewer hook-up within 150’ of shore, for example. The ordinances have been delayed until the City can consult with the Water and Sewer Commission. Councilmember Susan Hill Smith added that she attended the same meeting of the Water and Sewer Commission, and that the problem was not being ignored.
The reports of individual committees have been previously posted to the City’s website, and are also available in the meeting materials for the city council meeting. Detailed information is available by visiting IOP.net.
Mayor Carroll then turned to the City’s remaining action items being read for the second time.
Ordinance 2019-11 passed unanimously. The measure restricts lot coverage for new construction on IOP to 35%, a reduction from the previous 40%. It also requires that all driveways, pool surrounds, etc. be made of pervious materials.
Ordinance 2019-12 allows for small unobtrusive movies/pictures etc. to be made on IOP with only staff approval. However, just as the Mayor called for a vote on the legislation Town Administrator Desiree Fragoso reminded councilmembers the measure required a public hearing before being enacted by a second reading. The measure was deferred until July’s city council meeting, and the public hearing will be scheduled just prior to.
Ordinance 2019-13, a stronger version of the City’s plastic ban (e.g. includes balloons) was approved unanimously and syncs IOP’s ordinance with those of its neighboring islands.
Ordinance 2019-14 was read for the first time. The regulation requires all dogs to have both a free written permit from the City and also a tag issued by South Carolina certifying the animal free of rabies.
Council then adjourned to executive session for legal advice on a settlement with discuss a prospective settlement with Jonathon Gandolfo. Mayor Carroll told Island Eye News the matter of two oak trees (one of which was a grand oak) being removed by the defendant wasn’t settled back in December, 2019. Carroll wasn’t able to answer questions about the status or nature of the settlement at the time.
Council reconvened after returning from executive session “without taking any votes or making any decisions,” but with no further business to conducted, the meeting was adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Isle of Palms City Council will be Tuesday, July 23 at 6 p.m.