Sullivan’s Island Town Council Seeks Opinions On Fractional Ownerships

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The Sullivan’s Island Town Council is encouraging local residents to attend an upcoming meeting of the Council’s Land Use and Natural Resources Committee, where they will be able to voice their opinions about what action the town should take concerning a real estate service’s plans to sell fractional ownerships in a luxury home on the island. The exact date for the meeting has not yet been set, but it probably will be held the week of July 11, according to LUNR Committee Chair Gary Visser. At the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting June 21, five local residents spoke in opposition to Pacaso’s plans to sell oneeighth shares in the 4,331-square-foot home at 3115 Ion Ave. At that meeting, Visser stated that “our concern is the very structure of a fractional ownership operates exactly the same as a short-term rental, without the exchange of money, and is antithetical to this type of community we have worked so hard to preserve.” “There are a great number of things that I think challenge us in terms of how we might ensure that we adapt to this, and I look forward to having those discussions in a public meeting,” Visser added.

“We want to ask the community what they have to say and attempt to gather as much information as we can,” Visser said later. “We cannot limit ownership, but we can limit its use.” 

During the public comments part of the Council meeting, local resident Tim Emrich said he was “very concerned about the safety and the nuisance implication. … and the gross misuse of this single-family home, which seeks to commercialize this single-family residence into a corporate enterprise within our residentially-zoned neighborhood.” “This will have the same profoundly adverse impact on the surrounding residential areas as short-term vacation rentals, which are obviously prohibited by town ordinance,” Emrich added. Jody Latham called Pacaso’s plans an obvious play to get around the town’s short-term rental regulations, while Howard Holl said “we should make sure if this does come to pass and we can’t stop it, that the owners cannot rent out their share, as this is a thinly veiled attempt at a time-share.” Susan Middaugh asked if each of the eight owners would be able to use the home for a wedding reception, a family reunion or a large party. “Does this essentially circumvent our short-term rental restrictions such as occupancy and on-site parking?” Middaugh asked. According to Brian McGuigan, Pacaso’s director of corporate communications, rentals are not permitted at any Pacaso home. “The only people who may use the home are owners and a limited number of their guests,” McGuigan said. “After closing, the co-owners own 100% of the home, just like other homeowners on Sullivan’s Island.” McGuigan said Pacaso paid $5.98 million for the home, which closed on April 21, 2022. One-eighth shares are offered on the company’s website for $902,000. At its June 21 meeting, Mayor Pat O’Neil cited proclamations recognizing the commitment and dedication to youth and collegiate basketball shown by island resident Les Robinson and the victory by South Carolina patriots commanded by Col. William Moultrie over the invading British naval forces on June 28, 1776. The Council also passed on third and final reading the Water and Sewer Fund budget and the General Fund budget for the year beginning July 1, 2022. Town employees were given an 8.5% increase in salary and benefits. “With Greg (Gress) at the helm, we’ve done a really good job with keeping our budgets balanced and keeping some money in the kitty for a rainy day,” Water and Sewer Committee Chair Bachman Smith said in explaining why he was in favor of increased compensation for Water and Sewer employees. “We think it was a way to thank our staff for everything they do for us and recognize that we’re dealing with inflation, and the cost of living is skyrocketing. It was the least we could do for our employees.” Water and sewer rates will rise by 2.6% during the coming year. 

The Council also passed on second reading an ordinance designating Presidents Day as an observed holiday and approved a motion to proceed with a plan to convert to LED streetlights. 

Town Administrator Andy Benke reported that the fire station would be complete in late August or September and asked if the Council wanted to finish three offices in the storage building with heat, air, dry wall and carpet. He also said work is underway on the tennis and basketball courts.

In addition to new lighting, the courts will be resurfaced, which means they will be closed occasionally during the next four months. 

In addition, Police Officer Elias Shaffer took the oath of office, and Avery McMurtry, a student at Northeastern University in Boston, presented plans for a design and landscape architecture project at Battery Gadsden.

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