By Emma Woodham, Staff Writer For The Island Eye News
All members of the Isle of Palms City Council were present for the regularly scheduled meeting on July 24. Following the invocation, Mayor Jimmy Carroll opened the floor to citizens’ comments.
James Raih, a resident of Cameron Blvd., addressed council regarding the fact that the Personnel Committee has selected a firm to conduct the search for job candidates for City Administrator, Police Chief, and the newly-created Public Works position.
“Isle of Palms has no problem spending money on consultants, and I just wonder about the return on investment that the city is getting,” Raih said.
Raih hopes that the city will be open to considering local candidates for the job as well because he is interested in the position of City Administrator.
Christine Donovan, also a resident of the island, asked council to use common sense when making decisions about the parking issues on the island. She complained about the booklets of day-passes that residents are issued, stating that residents are not given enough free passes to allow for events throughout the year that may bring a lot of their friends and family to the island. This has been an issue for her and a group of people she conducts a bible study with on a weekly basis.
Michael Fiem, owner of Tidalwave Watersports, announced a Residents’ Day on September 8 where all of Tidalwave’s activities will be free to island residents. Donations are welcome, and any donations received will be donated to MUSC Children’s Hospital. Tidalwave will begin taking reservations on August 15.
Short-term rentals are a big concern for Bill Campbell, who lives on 42nd Ave. The home across from him, which had been occupied by the same owners for several decades, recently sold and has now become a shortterm vacation rental. Campbell does not feel as if the people who rent short-term respect the island.
“I am concerned about the deterioration of the community,” Campbell said.
Campbell further expressed his frustrations with noise from short-term rental homes, golf cart operation on the island, and the use of hoverboards on the island.
“We’re out of control,” Campbell said.
Councilmember Jimmy Ward presented the Ways & Means Committee report and recommended that council award a contract to the Mercer Group, a firm who will conduct the search for candidates to fill the open positions within the city. All members of the council were in favor of hiring the Mercer Group.
Councilmember Ward also made a motion to approve replacement beach mats for 42nd Ave., 9th Ave., and 30th Ave., a cost of approximately $60,000. Councilmember Randy Bell asked why the city is purchasing the lighter mats and not the heavy-duty ones. He stated that the lighter mats tear up faster, especially at beach accesses where emergency vehicles enter the beach. Donnie Pitts, Director of Public Works, stated that the material underneath the mats is really what determines how much the mats move and that many of the lighter mats currently being used don’t have good materials underneath them which can cause them to move more.
Councilmember Susan Hill Smith noted that she has often seen bubbles in the mats and thinks it could be hazardous. Director Pitts informed council that these mats will always require some maintenance because the sand beneath them is constantly moving and changing. The motion to approve this purchase was approved unanimously.
Councilmember Smith presented the report from the Public Safety Committee meeting, noting that the committee has discussed changing the set-up of the parking passes. Ultimately, they have chosen to stick with the booklets of passes, but a recommendation was made to give residents two extra booklets of passes per year. Councilmember Bell asked why the passes can’t be reused and if it is necessary to require residents to write a date on each pass. Interim Police Chief Usry pointed out that it is all about what council wants. If they choose, the passes could be used without any date at all. Councilmember Carol Rice said she feels this issue should go back to the Public Safety committee for further discussion.
The last item of business that Councilmember Smith presented was the possibility of having a shuttle run from Mount Pleasant to Isle of Palms to help cut down on island traffic. Councilmember Sandy Ferencz commented that she was glad to see the council start thinking this way. She feels that council needs to look at different options like this because the area around Isle of Palms is growing so quickly.
Bill Shep’s beach trash collection business was the primary issue that Councilmember Rice talked about in her Public Works Committee report. Shep is planning to sell the business, and the potential buyer spoke to the committee. Councilmember Smith expressed her concern about the beach trash bins not having lids on them, but Councilmember Rice pointed out that the trash collection company has equipment that doesn’t work on bins with lids.
Councilmember Ferencz announced that the Personnel Committee has finalized the new job descriptions for City Administrator and Police Chief and recommended the approval of the new descriptions. Both passed unanimously.
Councilmember Bell provided a brief report from the Real Property Committee, noting that the committee is looking at the lease terms of the four businesses operating within the IOP Marina to make sure all the businesses comply. The committee also discussed some suggested ordinances that would prevent construction workers who are working on the new Wild Dunes Hotel from parking at the Citadel Beach Club. However, the committee determined that these ordinances might have unintended consequences.
The second readings of Ordinances 2018-11 and 2018- 12 were waived, and the second reading of Ordinance 2018- 13 was deferred until the next meeting. The first readings of Ordinances 2018-14 and 2018- 15, both of which related to what the Real Property Committee discussed with relation to work trucks parking at the Citadel Beach Club were both deferred indefinitely.
Prior to the meeting’s conclusion, the council voted in favor of adopting a resolution supporting the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
The next meeting of the IOP City Council will be at 6 p.m. on August 28, preceded by a Public Hearing at 5:45 p.m.