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Lawsuits, Parking, Filming Discussed At Sullivan’s Island Town Council

By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor


On October 21, 2014 a special Sullivan’s Island Council meeting was held just prior to the regular meeting. The intent was to go into executive session and discuss the Bluestein, et al lawsuit, otherwise known as the Accreted Land Lawsuit.

Word spread quickly, and before Council had a chance to draw breath at the regular meeting, Julia Khoury stood up to voice her support of the decision made during that executive session.

We very much approve of the survey of the 6” diameter of all species of the trees,” she said. “As always all we want is an intelligent, well-thought out land plan involving experts in the field.”

Councilman Pat O’Neil confirmed that Council had directed the lawyers to order a survey of the trees in all of the accreted land of 6” and up. No other information was forthcoming on that lawsuit.

However, it was revealed that the Sullivan’s Island Elementary School lawsuit is not over, as many had assumed. According to Trenholm Walker, the town’s attorney in the suit, the plaintiffs have filed a notice of appeal.

The next step is for the appellants to file their initial brief which will probably occur in the next 30-60 days,” Walker said in an email to Island Eye News on Oct. 28.

O’Neil summarized it for attendees at the Oct. 21 council meeting. “The Plaintiffs are asking to reconsider the verdict and now it’s being appealed to the next level.”

It was revealed during the meeting that another lawsuit has been filed against the town. Island resident Hal Coste is disputing a Board of Zoning and Appeal decision to order to him to stop constructing a 300 sq. ft. treehouse he has begun building on his property for his grandchildren.

During public comments resident Barbara Spell expressed concern that Council is not moving quickly enough with regards to a paid parking solution on the island.

It is a huge concern,” Spell said. “Isle of Palms has had two public forums to discuss the issue and all we’ve had is two executive session, we’ve not brought islanders in. When are y’all going to discuss it? When will Sullivan’s Island residents be afforded the same courtesy Isle of Palms residents are having and find out what our choices are?”

Perhaps we can be faulted for not doing enough,” councilmember Pat O’Neil responded. “But not for doing it in secret.”

There was a decision made that we were going to monitor what the IOP is doing because the IOP has not yet made a decision,” he continued. “They have a date by which they will make a decision. We were trying to watch their process, we had discussed the possibility of hiring a consultant to do a study [in executive session]. But you want to do the study during the summer months, so we are past that season and do not have the ability to do that. We are monitoring that very carefully.” “So we are just going to react to what they are doing?” Spell asked.

No,” councilmember Susan Middaugh said. “We did make a decision several years ago. But there’s a lot to be said for being a little behind the curve on this because they are going to have to solve those questions. The Public Safety Committee will take the lead on this, so interested citizen should attend those meetings for more information.”

The second reading and ratification of an ordinance to revise franchise fees for filming, video taping and still photograph for commercial purposes and to add language prohibiting filming of any type within the commercial districts or on the beach passed.

This was following many months of amendments and working with members of the South Carolina Film Alliance to bring proposed fees more in line with similar sized communities. The outcome is that commercial parties wishing to film, video-record or photograph on the island on any public property must apply for a film permit in addition to a business license. The price of the permit varies depending on the size and impact of the project and will cost between $200 and $800 per day. This applies to any commercial venture, from family photography to a Hollywood blockbuster.

Council also passed an ordinance to allow the Battery Gadsden Cultural Center to lease the Battery Gadsden Cultural Center to be used as a civilian history project by the public nonprofit entity.

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