By Gregg Bragg for Island Eye News
Several instances of foreshadowing marked the July 16 meeting of Sullivan’s Island Town Council (TOSI) beginning with the invocation. Council member Chauncey Clark requested “safe travels” for the town administrator during his prayer. The jovial comment elicited a smattering of knowing chuckles and emphatic “Amens,” which were lost on many attendees at the time. Citizen’s comments saw more of the same with contributors launching in to subjects that would not be formally addressed until later in the meeting.
Sullivan’s Island resident Cyndy Ewing of 2514 Ion Ave wanted to “plant an idea in the minds of council.” She said two of her neighbors recently required EMS transportation from their homes, and it brought an important point home to her. “The problem is; if you can’t get through your front gate [for EMS], you’re sunk,” she said. Ewing says her gate is blocked by parked cars all the time and she’s tried to “tape it off” during the busy season, but the police can’t enforce it, so they just tear it down.
Her hope is that council will consider this as part of “the recipe” for parking on the island. “It’s a big concern,” she concluded.
Jeff Parish of 3034 Ion Ave. said, “There’s a huge trash problem on the beach. We’ve been trying to address this every day, picking up trash. Some of the worst offenses I’ve found are the cigarette butts. There’s got to be a solution. Even on days when there’s not a lot of trash, there [wasn’t] today… there were a good 20-25 people [out there picking up trash], but I found a hundred cigarette butts this morning. [Maybe] we could take some of the kids off the orange carts and put them on foot patrol and stop it. It could be a revenue stream…
“Daily I find Starbucks cups. I see ten people a day with the cups, and the lids, and the straws… If we’re going to ban plastic, then ban plastic… I’m not sure what the rules are. I’ve talked to the officers and they say, ‘Jeff, we can’t write a ticket for less than $240.’ Maybe we [should]… make it $10 for the first [smoking] offense, $100 for the second offence, $1,000 for the third, and make them stop… Ban smoking. A lot of them [butts] come from [fishing boats]. You can tell, they just flick them over the side, but there’s also the [beachgoers], who dig holes like an old fashioned ashtray. Well, it’s not an ashtray, it’s our beach,” Parish concluded.
Emit Lynch of 1121 Mill Street stepped up in full support of Parish. “I just want to say how pleased and grateful I am that we’re looking at banning smoking outdoors and in public spaces. If people want to smoke, they can smoke. That’s their choice. It’s legal. They can smoke in their homes; they can smoke in their cars; they can smoke at Folly Beach and IOP. I go down to the beach most days and pick up litter from 12th Street up to the point, and cigarette butts are everywhere. They are the most prevalent piece of garbage there is.
“I just came back from a turtle event on Bulls Island a couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about the damage it does to our marine life; the butts are in our fish and the turtles. I’m not a huge fan of secondhand cigarette smoke… There’s signs all over the beach at our end that say if you go in the water between these signs, you get fined $1,040. I don’t know how many of these [tickets] we write, but I notice there’s not a lot of people swimming between the signs. There’s not even a lot of people wading. I think if we had a fine of $1,040 for smoking on the beach, it would wake a lot of people up. And it might do some good. Might keep us all a little healthier, not just the humans but the fish and turtles and all, too.
“I’d like to know more about how I can support this [smoking ban] moving forward. I know it’s going to need some study, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. Thank you very much,” said Lynch.
Action items scheduled for TOSI included:
- Unanimous approval of last month’s meeting minutes.
- The third reading and ratification of Ordinance 2019-03 was read in title only. This measure authorizes TOSI to issue a bond “… to provide for the issuance and sale of not exceeding eight hundred thousand dollars [to the] Town of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, General Obligation Bonds, in one or more series; to prescribe the purposes for which the proceeds shall be expended, to provide for the payment thereof, and other matters relating thereto.”
- Sullivan’s inched ever closer to completing its state mandated “Comprehensive Plan,” [updates required every ten years] and council acted to read it into the record in title only. The second reading was unanimously approved.
- Minor amendments were recommended by Bachman Smith, and were unanimously approved.
- First reading by title only of ordinance 2019-05. The measure grants a temporary easement to Helen N. Antman in an effort to mitigate any adverse effects caused by sewer line repair/installation on Lot 31, area J.
- Unanimous approval of $4,400 of funds from the tree commission to replace trees and vegetation sacrificed on Lot 32, Area J to accommodate sewer line installation/repairs.
Mayor Pat O’Neil opened his remarks by thanking everyone involved in the Sullivan’s Island Independence Day festivities. “A four day weekend, for the most part. World’s longest day on July Fourth, and I would like to thank the recreation staff and EVEYBODY who contributed. It was a great turnout.
“I would also like to congratulate council member Greg Hammond and his wife on the arrival of a new potential voter; Evelyn English Hammond.
“I want to remind everybody that our town administrator is taking a welldeserved vacation break, which will start as soon as we stop talking tonight,” said O’Neil.
Town administrator Andy Benke had good news in his report again this month. He expects dredging/oil pumping to produce about 5200 cubic yards of “spoil.” The town historically gets about $1.25/cubic yard of income for the town to store the waste, but he said the going rate is about $2/cubic yard. He said he’ll finish his review and any negotiations after his vacation. He also said that trimming of invasive plant species in Sully’s accreted land zone is underway and would start with wax myrtles killed by flooding.
Council member Sarah Church reminded attendees the deadline to apply for positions on the town’s boards and commissions is Aug. 15.
Terms start in September for the following seats:
- Three seats available on the planning commission.
- Two seats on the board of zoning appeals.
- Two seats on the tree commission.
- Three seats on the design review board.
- A seat on the election commission with an unlimited term.
Council member Bachman Smith said the sewer line installation from behind the fire station to Middle Street was proceeding, and would be complete in about a month.
Council member Tim Reese said an island wide speed limit of 25 MPH was slowly becoming a reality with help from the South Carolina Department of Transportation, but reiterated that SCDOT won’t add a cross walk between Jasper and the causeway where there are currently storm water drains. He said a crossing guard could be used until the drain location is addressed.
Reese also pitched the town’s new boardwalk [adjacent to the school] and thinks paid parking to use it will be a nice source of revenue for the Sullys.
Newly elected council member Greg Hammond had a lengthy report for the Public Facilities Committee he chairs. His committee is responding to a motion for a smoking ban he will eventually bring to the full council. He thinks SCDOT is amenable to a crosswalk on the east side of Jasper at station 22.5. Hammond also announced a trash pickup contest that will reward the kid who picks up the most trash. Asked about the prize he said he hopes it will be enough to augment participation, but not enough to encourage cheating.
TOSI then adjourned for executive session to seek legal advice on public access to town property, liability insurance for parking on town property, and conducting a title search on storm water outfalls.
No votes were taken and no decision were made during executive session.
TOSI reconvened the full council meeting. However, with no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned.