Sullivan’s Island Town Council – August 18, 2009

An image from the accreted land area on Sullivan's Island. PHOTO BY Peter Coleman

An image from the accreted land area on Sullivan's Island. PHOTO BY Peter Coleman

Staff Report

The Sullivan’s Island Town Council held their regular meeting on August 18. The meeting began with the recognition of former Councilman Everett Presson’s extensive work with the Council, as well as the individuals associated with the Police and Fire Departments who dedicated themselves and risked their own lives between July 9 and 13, rescuing twelve individuals from dangerous rip currents and sand bar strandings.

Not worth the time

Mayor Smith took a moment to reflect on this year’s Hurricane Expo, an event that is designed to give residents the tools and knowledge needed to prepare for a hurricane. Prior to the expo, he noted that he has noticed the same individuals, mostly islanders who have been here since Hugo, attending last year’s event while relatively new resi-dents are very few and far between. It is the new residents, he says, that need this in-formation more than anyone. He hoped that this year’s event would be more well at-tended by those who have not yet experienced the tragedy and reality of a major hurri-cane. However, very few people showed up to this year’s Expo, and Mayor Smith ques-tioned whether the Town should continue investing time and money in the event if those who could benefit from the free information are not utilizing it.

“Why do it?” he asked out loud.

Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin concurred with Mayor Smith’s sentiments, stating that the Expo is planned to be held on the Isle of Palms next year.
“We will put our heads together and come up with dramatic improvements or we will not keep holding the Expo,” Cronin said. “We will always have a program to help residents prepare. It may not be an Expo, but it is important to empower residents to prepare.”


Over the past couple of months, the Town’s Police Department has been tinkering with a public alert system that would allow registered persons to receive alerts and messag-es from the Town on their cell phones or e-mail. It seems that the Town is ready to take the system to the people. The Sullivan’s Island Public Safety and Emergency Alert System is operated by NIXLE, which provides the same service for many other communities.
To register, visit the Town’s website at and click on the large “NIXLE” link on the homepage.

Accreting opinions

At the time of the Town Council meeting, the Town was still soliciting opinions from residents and digesting the 112 responses it had received regarding the Accreted Land plan. The consultants are still expected to hold another public hearing sometime in the future.
On a related note, Councilman Pat O’Neil discussed the progress that had been made on preserving smaller pockets of unbuildable land through a local land trust organiza-tion; Mount Pleasant Open Space. The Town has previously received requests from residents who own property that abut the marsh area to buy a smaller section of Town owned land that runs between their property and the marsh. In order to preserve the natural beauty in these places, O’Neil has been instrumental in researching the possibility of putting the smaller parcels in a land trust. Councilman Jerry Kaynard, however, questioned O’Neil’s philosophy and examined a potential hypocrisy when it comes to preservation between front beach land management versus the backside of the island.

There has been a debate on the value of ocean views for front beach homeowners when it comes to how the accreted land should be managed. Currently, those residents are allowed to trim the area in order to preserve those views. However, that practice has come under fire as it increases fire hazards and pest problems in the name of vistas.

Kaynard, a front-beach homeowner, is among a group of front beach homeowners who engage in accreted land tree trimming. He questioned O’Neil’s desire to preserve views of the marsh on the backside of the island, while not necessarily fighting to preserve views for front beach homeowners who would lose the ocean views they paid for if the land is allowed to mature naturally. O’Neil pointed out that the issues were not identical and that he is concerned with protecting land from development and not so much with protecting personal vistas.
The possibility of preserving smaller parcels of land through Mount Pleasant Open Space is expected to be discussed further at the Real Estate Committee’s September meeting.

Sabbath Tax

Councilman Mike Perkis, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, announced the result of an investigation dealing with local restaurants/bars which may have been selling alcohol on Sundays without a permit. According to South Carolina State law, restaurants and bars have to buy a separate annual license in order to sell alcohol on Sundays. That license costs $3000. After looking through the Town budget, Council member Madeleine McGee noticed that up to four local businesses had not bought the license, but were selling alcohol on Sundays.
Perkis stated that the Town would follow up on the discovery and would make sure that every restaurant selling alcohol on Sundays is operating legally. The reason for the inconsistency might be simple confusion. While the liquor license which is purchased from the State is good for two years, the separate license for Sunday inebriation is only good for one. It is possible that the owners assumed both are good for two years.

Commercial families

Hal Currey, Chairman of the Town’s Planning Commission, reported on the Commis-sion’s responsibility to examine residential construction in the Commercial District. The discussion was somewhat confusing as to what is currently allowed. However, the Council’s desire to allow single-family residences in the Commercial District while prohibiting duplexes was crystal clear.

The issue came up when a property owner asked the Council if he could build a single-family residence on the commercial side of his split-zoned property at a previous meeting. It was clear that the Council seemed willing to allow it, but became bogged down in legalities. They also had a negative opinion of duplexes, which are currently allowed in that zone.

Council member Jerry Kaynard suggested a forum with property owners to discuss the issue. Currey stated that the Planning Commission held a public hearing to which only 3-4 people showed up to speak. However, another public hearing is expected on the matter. Contact Town Hall to find out if that hearing has been scheduled.

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