Sullivan’s Island Town Council Meeting: March 19, 2019

By Gregg Bragg, The Island Eye News Staff Writer

Sullivan’s Island honored resident Rick Reed for his service to the Town.

The Sullivan’s Island Town Council seems to have found the key to citizen engagement; celebrate the contributions of concerned residents. Town Hall was stacked to the rafters for the third consecutive month at the March 19 meeting.

Mayor O’Neil’s act of turning to a proclamation in honor of Dr. Rick Reed helped to both explain the attendance, and the high level of civic responsibility so common during the current instance of Sullivan’s Island’s government.

 “Whereas Dr. Fredrick E. “Rick” Reed is a long-time resident of Sullivan’s Island who holds the island and its natural resources in high esteem… has demonstrated his love of the island by donating his time and energy to serve on the town’s Tree Commission… selflessly contributed his time and energy to various community activities and events, especially those promoting health and wellness of area children and those supporting the preservation of our area’s natural environment… has dedicated his energy and financial resources to many conservation efforts, especially the protection of vital island-area habitats including the Island’s Protected Land and Crab Bank… played a very active and integral role in the Save Crab Bank drive to obtain funds for restoration of this valuable habitat through his many efforts to energize public support and importantly, through his substantial personal financial donation, which helped the group meet its financial goal by the designed deadline…

“Therefore be it resolved that the Town of Sullivan’s Island honor Dr. Fredrick E. “Rick” Reed with the highest honor for his service to the Town,” read salient parts of the proclamation.

Council voted unanimously to approve two Fee Simple Titles; the first to Sarah Kearney at 2502 I’On Ave. and the other for Naomi Donnelly and Joseph Butler of 1301 Cove Ave.

The Town’s attorney seemed to relish the opportunity the motions afforded, to reiterate the history of Fee Simple Titles. A law on the books in 1791 allowed for lots less than one acre to be secured for a penny a year (presumably renewable). The law was amended in “1810-ish,” which added the requirement that the lot be developed within the period of 1 year… and so it went on and on with minor tweaks until 1950, when the law required a onetime fee of $25. For more information on Fee Simple Titles, contact the Town.

Town Administrator Andy Benke had another busy report this month.

He stated that owner review drawings have been reviewed by the Town, and the bid process for work on the fire station is sure to start soon. Costs for repairs to the boardwalks at stations 25 and 26 can and will be paid for with ATAX monies, and the deadline to apply for Greenbelt funds was met and any grant money received will be applied to the cost of a new boardwalk adjacent to Sullivan’s Island Elementary School.

Benke also reported that staff received an offer from a group of residents to fund an automated license plate recognition (ADLR) system for the Town (during last month’s council meeting). He followed with the comment on March 19 that the group has withdrawn their offer of financial support.

However, the town administrator forged ahead with a well prepared pitch to Council that consumed the bulk of the meeting’s time.

Benke cited the benefits of the system, which included; its capacity to aid in crime investigation, an inherent deterrent effect, and the feeling security born of having an “electronic fence” around the island. The only downside was the 1984/Orwellian/big brother sensation it might produce, which Benke acknowledged, but seemed to shrug off.

The debate that followed changed from last month to this. “If” was no longer the question so much as which of two routes should be taken to implement such a system; do it ourselves, or turn administration/ maintenance over to the state/ SLED.

Witnessing on behalf of the state was SLED agent Mark Amos. He pitched the benefits of housing data with the state because of multiple redundant backups, and three-year retention of data. He seemed most interested in expanding the breadth of the net available to the state, which would not be available if Sullivan’s Island housed the data on their own. For example, the tag of a car read on the island could be tracked through 4800 different locations throughout the state (e.g. ABSTRACT – 321 was last seen in Georgetown…).

Costs associated with an ADLR system are less if the state handles maintenance and storage. The technology could be paid for from a surplus currently in the ATAX reserves through passage of a resolution by Council. So it looks like the Town will move forward with the idea.

Committee reports were spartan but very colorful starting with Public Safety. The chief of police reported several arrests during the latter parts of the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. He tiptoed around saying “I told you so,” but reiterated his advice to shorten the duration of the party. “All the incidents took place after [about] 4:30 p.m.,” he said.

Councilmember Sarah Church seemed pleased to report there had been no arrests at the kid’s version of the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration she organized as part of her role on the Recreation Committee. Her observation was greeted with chuckles before she pivoted to the potential for damage to the mound at the Town’s park because of a new and sharply trending activity. Did you know you can slide down the hill on/in a recycling bin? How about half of a car top carrier? Apparently you can, laughed Church and pretty much everyone at the brilliance of the idea. Kids, huh?!

Councilmember Bachman Smith urged Council to hasten the decision/funding process for repairs of the sewer line from behind the fire station up to Middle St., as well as installation of a new line along Middle St. He cautioned Council repairs could affect summer traffic if not concluded quickly, with time estimate already straying into June, he said.

S0394 (a.k.a the ban on plastic bans) currently being discussed in Columbia with its lack of a grandfather clause, is still on the radar for TOSI, and they find themselves with plenty of company. A plastics ban passed its third reading (5- 2) by Charleston County Council since the last meeting of TOSI, and neighboring IOP Mayor Jimmy Carroll has called for public support. Like Sullivan’s Island, numerous Lowcountry governments worked hard to get plastic bans to the finish lines, and aren’t ready to see it wasted. Concerned residents are encouraged to contact members of the Senate’s Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee.

There being no further business, the hour and 19 minute long meeting was adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Sullivan’s Island Town Council is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m

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