By Brian Sherman, The Island Eye News Editor
With distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in its initial stages, the town of Sullivan’s Island has extended two pandemicrelated emergency ordinances until Feb. 14, continuing for another 61 days its policies of requiring masks in retail, food service and other businesses, mandating social distancing and limiting activities on the beach.
At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Sullivan’s Island Town Council unanimously approved emergency ordinances 2020-23 and 2020-24. The former permits the Council to continue to meet through Zoom, grants authority to the town administrator to cancel and revoke special event permits, requires residents and visitors to follow the social distancing mandates issued by Gov. Henry McMaster and limits public gatherings on town owned property and beaches to three people, unless they are related family members.
Under emergency ordinance 2020-23, recommended activities on the beach include running, walking, dog walking – within the permitted hours and with a town-issued permit – biking, swimming, surfing, fishing and other recreational activities that allow people to remain at least 6 feet apart.
Emergency ordinance 202024 requires people to wear a mask or other face covering in restaurants, retail stores and property owned by the town.
“The reputable, credible scientific advice is that it’s going to be months and months before an adequate number of people get vaccinated in this country to provide what they charitably call herd immunity, and that even then it may be wishful thinking to assume we can dispense with masks as soon as that occurs,” Mayor Pat O’Neil said.
Both ordinances passed by a unanimous vote of the Council.
The Council also discussed and passed on third reading ordinance 2020-2021, which was amended “to allow greater accessibility and to not disrupt the work at the water treatment plant,” according to Council Member Bachman Smith, who serves as chair of the Water and Sewer Committee. The Council also approved on second reading ordinance 2020-22, which will make the town’s purchasing process more efficient, Town Administrator Andy Benke pointed out.
“It will be very helpful, given everything on our plate with capital projects in the next three to five years,” Benke said.
The future of two small, historical but now dilapidated structures on Jasper Boulevard in the area of 26th and 27th avenues also was on the agenda. They have been designated “traditional island resources,” according to Director of Planning and Zoning Administrator Joe Henderson, who has contacted local contractors concerning demolition of the buildings and other possible alternatives. Councilman Greg Hammond said the decision should be left to the town’s Design Review Board.
“That’s a DRB decision. That’s not what we were voted in to do. We have an existing process for this,” he commented.
O’Neil disagreed, noting that “as property owners, we need the data to make a responsible decision on whether we want to demolish or save these buildings. There’s absolutely zero rush on this. We should get the information we need.”
Smith added that the people he contacted at the Battery Gadsden Cultural Center have no problem with the buildings being demolished.
Following an executive session, Council members approved a work plan and construction documents provided by the engineering firm Thomas & Hutton concerning the proposed work to be done in the Maritime Forest and approved a contract with Trident Construction for the rehabilitation of the fire station and construction of a storage building.