By Jimmy Carroll for Island Eye News
With the summer peak of July 4th week having come and gone, we slowly go through the summer with the heat, humidity, traffic and parking that comes with it. Our July 4th fireworks display was the best one yet, and thanks to our wonderful city staff the day went off without a hiccup.
Last month, City Council unanimously approved the FY20 budget without a tax increase. The City needs to secure permits for several large-scale projects, such as the Phase 3 drainage improvements for the drainage outfalls on 30th, 36th and 41st Avenues and the replacement of the IOP marina docks, before starting construction. The City has been advised that the permitting processes for these projects can easily take a year or even longer to complete. In the meantime, we are still working on other important drainage projects that will alleviate flood prone areas. This year, SCDOT has been diligent in providing quarterly maintenance to drainage systems. Also, the City increased the frequency of service of our ditch maintenance contract from once a year to 3 times a year.
The City has taken some steps to become one of the forerunners in resilience. Sea-level is rising, we are experiencing more and more flooding events, hence council has moved forward in several directions to help get the water off the island. The first one was increasing our minimum lot size allowed to be subdivided from 17,500 ft to 35,000 ft. We are trying to prevent more and more houses being squeezed in and covering more greenspace.
Also, the City reduced the maximum lot coverage of non-pervious materials from 40% to 35%. Before this regulation was approved, one could build a house, including non-pervious sidewalks, driveways, and swimming pool surrounds up to 40% of the lot. Now, one is limited to 35% non-pervious coverage and sidewalks, driveways and pool surrounds now need to be of pervious materials. Our goal is to be proactive and help get the water off the ground as quickly as possible.
Also, at last month’s council meeting, we finally finished our anti plastic ban which will take effect starting January 1, 2020 to coincide with Charleston County’s ban. We should be proud that the Isle of Palms was the first South Carolina community to ban single use plastics bags, which has now grown all along the coast in South Carolina. However, this is not just a South Carolina problem, but a world-wide one where less than 10% of all plastics ever get recycled. The Isle of Palms is pleased to be a leader in environmental protection.
Both of our new city administrators, Desirée Fragoso, and our new Police Chief, Kevin Cornett, are settling in their new roles. Come meet them both and the rest of our public safety team at the annual National Night Out on Aug. 6 from 5-7 p.m. at the Recreation Center.
Dominion Energy’s tree trimming work is coming to the Isle of Palms in mid to late August. We all have seen the work they have done in Mt. Pleasant and on Sullivan’s Island. When the Town of Mt. Pleasant put a stop work order on them, Sullivan’s Island Mayor O’Neil and I, along with our administrators Desiree Fragoso and Andy Benke, attended a meeting in Mt. Pleasant with Dominion Energy to discuss ways to mitigate citizen’s concerns.
Dominion Energy will have a certified arborist on site to direct and supervise tree trimming, but it will still be dramatic. Tree trimming needs to be done every 5 years to ensure the safety and reliability of the electric system. The City will host Dominion Energy for a tree trimming workshop on Aug. 7, 5-7 pm at the Recreation Center to answer questions and discuss proper pruning methods.
Don’t miss this important workshop.
City council meetings offer an excellent opportunity for citizens to learn from and speak to their elected representatives. I am committed to keeping public participation during meetings productive and respectful. Personal attacks directed at a person or group will not be tolerated and we expect citizens to behave with propriety when they address City Council and staff. During Citizens’ Comments, each citizen wishing to address Council will have three minutes to do so and may not yield their time to other speakers.
In closing, this is an election year, please, if you have ever thought of giving back to your community, this is a perfect way! The filing period starts on Aug. 5 and closes promptly at noon on Aug. 19. You can find more information about the municipal elections on the City’s website at www.iop.net/election-voting-information.