Sullivan’s Island Town Council Will Consider Historic Preservation Study

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The Sullivan’s Island Town Council has accepted a report from the town’s Historic Preservation and Design Study Group and will discuss it further at an upcoming Council workshop. At its Aug. 16 meeting, the Council decided that the report from the HPDSG, a subcommittee of the Council’s Land Use and Natural Resources Committee, will require additional consideration before recommendations that require zoning ordinance changes are forwarded to the Planning Commission and policy changes are implemented by the town administration, at the direction of the Council.

Chaired by John Winchester, the HPDSG completed its work after holding nine public meetings from March 3 through July 7. Among its recommendations is that incentives should be provided for property owners to restore free-standing historical structures rather than attaching them to new construction.

Council Member Bachman Smith pointed out that he was unsure what he and his colleagues were supposed to be doing with the report, which already had received the blessing of the LUNR Committee and its chair, Councilman Gary Visser.

“I don’t know where we’re going. I’ve read everything, and I loved everything I read. But right now, I’m far more confused than when we started. What are we voting on and what is the import of the vote we’re taking?” he asked. “What is the consequence of the vote we’re taking? What are we doing here?”

“What is the consequence of the vote we’re taking? What are we doing here?” Visser responded that he hoped the Council would accept the report and take action “in later Council meetings.” Smith said he would rather tackle a few recommendations at a time, rather than granting approval to the entire package. “I am uncomfortable with something so comprehensive voting on it as a whole document,” Smith commented. “I think it might be a little haphazard to look at 16 recommendations and vote all at once to send them somewhere.” A motion to accept the work of the subcommittee, “for information purposes only,” and study the report at a future Council workshop passed unanimously. At their Aug. 16 meeting, Council members also heard from Alissa Lietzow, executive director of Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, who provided information about the upcoming Art on the Beach program. The self-guided tour of Sullivan’s Island homes has been held on the second Sunday in November for the past 23 years. In addition to the opportunity to view art – some by Sullivan’s Island residents – participants will be able to sample food prepared by chefs along the tour.

The annual event raises funds for Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, which provides legal aid to members of the low-income community. The Council also heard from Avery McMurtry, who provided an update on her project in experience design and landscape architecture at Battery Gadsden. “Migration,” which is aimed at boosting the Monarch butterfly population, will continue through Sept. 3. Also at the Aug. 16 meeting, O’Neil reported on a letter the town received from Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston concerning a historical plaque that was unveiled during a recent ceremony. “I have participated in many patriotic events over the years, but none has moved me more than the wonderful tribute you arranged for the marker honoring Lt. Col. Jimmy Dyess’ heroism in our own community,” the letter said. “The marker will be a permanent reminder to all who view it that indeed ‘freedom is not free.’ Hopefully, the tablet will cause all who encounter it, young and old, to be inspired to follow Lt. Col. Dyess’ example and to be better citizens of our great country.” In 1928, Eagle Scout and Clemson Cadet Dyess saved two women from drowning in the waters off of Sullivan’s Island. Dyess, like Livingston a Medal of Honor recipient, was killed in action in the Marshall Islands during World War II. The mayor and Council also received a letter from Myra Jones and Lee Rowland, co-directors of the Charleston Beach Foundation, asking that people who don’t live on Sullivan’s Island be given the same rights and privileges to park on state roads as residents of the island. 

“Our investigation shows that there are at least 15 blocks or areas on state roads that have golf-cart-only designated parking spaces. While we agree that there are a few areas which are too small for other vehicles to park, this is not the case in the majority of the areas. Further, some of the areas have encroachments by property owners which are illegal and are infringing on state property and the rights of others to utilize the space to park a vehicle,” the letter said.

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