Sunday, October 18, 2015

Recreation sheds on the agenda this Tuesday

According to the posted Town Council agenda, there will be a first reading of the controversial recreation shed amendment at the regular Town Council meeting on Tuesday, October 20th. The meeting begins at 6 pm.

There is much island-wide opposition to the precedent-setting zoning change. Since June, many residents have voiced serious concerns at meetings and written letters to Council. But so far, none of that seems to have changed the trajectory of the amendment. 

Below is a thoughtful letter sent to Town Council by islander Laurie Arthur. Laurie ends her letter with an interesting question: Should changes to the Master Plan require a referendum?

Dear Mr. Mayor and Council,

I have just attended the meeting of Planning and Zoning, held September 9. I would like to commend the Members of Planning and Zoning as well as the Town's officials for the effort they have invested amending this ordinance.

However, I strongly feel it would be a mistake to adopt this amendment. Although the changes would apply island wide, I would like to clarify my arguments using the proposed structure on 3117 Marshall as an example.

1. Retreat from the Beach: This was stated as one of the motives to amend the existing ordinance. As I write this, a new home is being built on Marshall. Can anyone really argue that allowing a recreational structure at 3117 Marshall will begin a stampede of property owners, begging for a conservation easement and the right to have a pergola and storage shed, rather than a home?

2. Safety from storm damage: Homes are better built than a recreational structure. What wind or wave-driven damage can650 sq. feet of combined recreational 'structure plus storage cause? Is it more probable that this structure will collapse in storm surge and high winds than a home?

3. Size of structure allowed: The house at 3117 Marshall received variances. If the present lot (true high ground and without the variances received for a home) were covered with a recreational structure, would not the footprint would be immense?

4. Conservation easements are good things: Always? What is being conserved at 3117 Marshall if a large recreational structure covers the vast majority of high ground?

The Town and it's citizens worked very hard to write the Master Plan. This amendment is not a "tweak. It is an allowance for a third type of zoning, that offers no benefit to the public. It neither conserves the land to allow the public to bask in its natural beauty nor does offer the public access to the land. 

I believe strongly in property rights.If the owner of 3117 has the legal right to build a home on that lot, fine. If he chooses not to, then that is his choice. It is not up to the Town to adjust it's Master Plan to accommodate a property owner's whim to use that property for a non-conforming use.

Finally, I would like the Council to consider two ideas.

Some communities ( Carmel, California for example) require someone petitioning for a variance to illustrate that variance using snow fences and tape. The public can then visualize what the impact a variance would have. Should Sullivan's adopt this?

Should changes in the Master Plan require a referendum?


Laurie Arthur
2850 Middle Street
Sullivans's Island, SC 29482


The Town Council meeting will be held at the temporary Town Hall, 2050-B Middle St. There is still time to contact Town Council if you have concerns about the amendment.

Hope to see you at the meeting this Tuesday!

Barbara Spell

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Recreation sheds (cont'd)

The recreation shed zoning issue rolls on, in spite of much controversy about it and much island-wide opposition from residents. The amendment was on the agenda of the well-attended LUNR (Land Use and Natural Resources) committee meeting on October 8th at 8:30 am.

After some discussion, LUNR decided to put the recreation shed issue on the Workshop agenda for Monday, October 12th, for discussion by the full council. The Workshop will be held at 6:00 pm at the temporary town hall, 2050-B Middle St. 

The three council members serving on LUNR are Rita Langley (Chair), Chauncey Clark, and Mayor Pat O'Neil. The LUNR meeting on Thursday went much the way of the Planning Commission meetings on the recreation shed issue. Once again, many of the specific questions and concerns that have been raised by islanders at meetings and in written correspondence were not presented or addressed. 

Pat O'Neil did mention that a number of islanders were concerned about the fact that Town Council appeared to be planning to change the island-wide zoning code in order to accommodate just a few individuals.  He commented on that issue by saying something to the effect that many changes made by Town Council start with a request by one islander. 

He also mentioned another concern raised by a number of islanders, which is that the Town would lose property tax revenue if houses are removed and replaced by recreation structures. That is definitely true. But in spite of that, and for reasons that have never been fully explained at any of the many meetings on the recreation shed issue, islanders are told that having a recreation shed instead of a single-family home on a property is a good thing for the entire community. 

Councilman Chauncey Clark commented that the neighbors of the property on Marshall Boulevard were supportive of the island-wide zoning change, and that what residents in a surrounding neighborhood support is a very important consideration. Not mentioned were the many property owners in other neighborhoods on Sullivan's Island who do not want to potentially have a recreation shed next door. 

Chauncey joked that because of the erosion occurring on the north end of Sullivan's Island, if Town Council did not hurry up and approve the zoning amendment, the lot in question may not even exist. He did state after the meeting,  in response to a question from an islander, that having a recreation shed on the lot instead of a house would not slow down the rate of erosion.

There has been much correspondence with Town Council from islanders opposing the recreation shed amendment. As always, SI CI is happy to post letters and other information on issues of importance to SI residents. Below is an excellent letter from islander Ad Ingle: 

This letter is for the September 9th meeting of the Planning Committee.  My reaction is to vote against the whole plan. (I know I don't really have a vote!) First of all, I am not sure why the new Zoning Ordinance Amendment for "stand-alone structures" and "recreational uses on residentially zoned properties depends on easements having been established.  But, I guess lawyers know what is best!

The whole idea sounds bad to me.  The small size of the allowed structures coupled with the allowed number of people (24) surprises me. That is really jamming a lot of people into a small space.  All of those people arriving and having only 2 parking spaces would seem to be a possible nuisance to the neighbors.

The main objection which I have is that no sewer facilities will be allowed.  Perhaps that is the blessing in disguise that will kill this whole deal.

Addison Ingle
1719 Atlantic Avenue


So make plans to attend the workshop at 6:00 this Monday! If you cannot attend, contact Town Council about the amendment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Recreation sheds on SI--Next step is unclear

It is hard to know exactly where Town Council is with the controversial recreation shed amendment, even after the September 21st Town Council meeting. 

While Mayor Pat O'Neil did acknowledge at the beginning of the meeting that Town Council was aware most of the attendees were there because of the zoning amendment, he then stated that Town Council would not be voting on the amendment that night.  

And that was absolutely all that Town Council said about the recreation shed amendment at the meeting. A number of islanders did make comments--both pro and con-- about the amendment during the public comment period, however.

In view of the number of islanders who attended the Town Council meeting because of the amendment, it was truly surprising that the recreation shed issue was not on the  agenda at all--even for discussion. 

So where we are with the approval processIn response to an email, Andy Benke said that the amendment should fall under the responsibility of  the Land Use and Natural Resources Committee (LUNR), chaired by Councilwoman Rita Langley. Other members of LUNR are Mayor Pat O'Neil and Councilman Chauncey Clark. But if LUNR is indeed the next step, it is not clear why Town Council did not vote to send the amendment to LUNR at the Town Council meeting on September 21st. 

It is possible that Town Council will discuss the amendment at the next Town Council workshop, scheduled for Monday, October 12th at 6:00, and decide then what the next step would be. But again, it is not entirely clear what is going on with the amendment at the moment because Town Council did not discuss the issue at the Town Council meeting.

What has become abundantly clear over the past several months is that the recreation shed amendment has generated much controversy and much correspondence from islanders to Town Council and to the Planning Commission. The many letters and comments in opposition to the amendment generally cite concerns about the precedent-setting nature of an island-wide zoning change, the accommodating of one small group of islanders to the detriment of the rest of the community, and the unexplored consequences to the entire community of allowing stand-alone recreation sheds on what is now a single-family residential island--as affirmed and re-affirmed in the Comprehensive Plan that was updated just last year.

In contrast, the letters from islanders in support of the amendment are primarily from residents living in the neighborhood around the property in question, and generally focus on the benefits to the immediate neighborhood of removing the one house from the one piece of property on Marshall Boulevard.

So for the moment, it appears the discussion of the recreation shed amendment is ongoing. It is essential that islanders continue to send letters to members of Town Council and let them know what you think about the recreation shed issue.

And in the meantime....Read the letter below from islander Mike Walsh to each Town Council member. Mike's letter also ran in the September 11 edition of Island Eye. In his very clever imagined conversation between William Moultrie and Florence O'Sullivan, Mike manages to capture the essence of many of the letters written by islanders who oppose the recreation shed amendment:

A Sullivan’s Island Conversation

Here’s an imagined conversation between two residents of Sullivan’s Island in regard to the proposed zoning change to allow a recreational structure in place of a house at 3117 Marshall Boulevard. Whether it fits more into the fiction or non-fiction category each reader will have to decide for him or herself.

Florence O’Sullivan:  So I hear that a group of people want to do away with a house on front beach where the erosion is getting bad and make it into something else. What’s that all about?

William Moultrie:  Yep, that’s right. Some nearby homeowners have formed some sort of corporation to own the property, remove the house and turn it into a recreational facility instead. But, they’re not calling it a recreational facility, they’re calling it a “conservation easement”.

O’Sullivan:  What’s a conservation easement?

Moultrie:  That’s a legal agreement between a property owner, in this case the “corporation” that was formed, and a non-profit conservation organization, namely, the East Cooper Land Trust.

O’Sullivan:  So it’s like a donation then.

Moultrie:  Not exactly. There is a value to the property and the arrangement is permanent, so there may be a tax deduction available to this group of…hmm…not quite sure what to call them. Let me call them investors. But they do retain certain rights to the use of the property.

O’Sullivan:  Like what?

Moultrie:  Well, like building a recreational shed, complete with storage room and shower, and using it to entertain friends and family.

O’Sullivan:  But any resident of the Island could use this, right?

Moultrie:  No way. It would be available only to the owners of the property.

O’Sullivan:  So they could hold like another Woodstock or something on the beach?

Moultrie:  Well, they say it would be limited to 24 people at a time with only two cars parked on the property, though for the life of me I’m not sure who’s going to enforce that. I’m really not clear on what happens when guest number 25 and 26 shows up.

O’Sullivan:  Maybe you could send some of that famous militia of yours to help. But what’s the next step?

Moultrie:  The Town has to go along with the whole deal through the Planning Commission and the Town Council.

O’Sullivan:  Why wouldn’t they go along with it?

Moultrie:  Because this is a residential lot in a residential neighborhood on a residential island. Plus it really goes against the Comprehensive Plan the Town has approved and re-approved over the years that was designed to maintain the current residential character of the island. In addition, essentially the entire current Town Council campaigned on a platform that included maintaining the current make-up of the island.

O’Sullivan:  But there would be only one of these easements, sheds, recreational facilities, whatever you want to call it on the island, right?

Moultrie:  Au contraire, my friend. If the zoning ordinance is changed it would then apply to whoever else might want to do the same thing. You can’t just do it for one group. Even an official from the East Cooper Land Trust came over and not only urged the Planning Commission to approve this deal, but also encouraged the Town to loosen up and allow more of this type projects to go on.

O’Sullivan:  I don’t know. It does seem like something that is done in the name of conservation along with the Land Trust is kinda like motherhood and apple pie.

Moultrie:  C’mon, Flo. Get your head out of the 17th century. This is not exactly like someone donating a hundred-acre nature preserve. This is a very small group of people trying to change a very small piece of property into something they can use and enjoy to the exclusion of anyone not on the guest list of 24. It does absolutely nothing for you, me or the vast majority of island residents.

O’Sullivan:  Yeah. I see what you mean. Just one last question. You don’t suppose that anyone involved with making a decision on this would be close enough friends with the investors to be on that guest list of 24 do you?

Moultrie:  Ahhhh…I really couldn’t say.

O’Sullivan:  Hmmm.

(To be continued.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Planning Commission met on September 9th to discuss the recreation shed amendment and hear comments from islanders. 

In spite of all of the controversy surrounding the amendment, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the amendment and send it on to Town Council for a vote. 

So now it is up to Town Council to decide what to do with the Planning Commission's recommendation. 

Town Council will meet this Monday evening at 6:00 and may--or may not--include the recreation shed issue on the agenda. But it is now up to Town Council to decide what the next step will be. The Planning Commission's vote  last Wednesday only represents a recommendation to Town Council. Council has the final say about the amendment.  

Council could do one of several things, including: 1) accept the Planning Commission's recommendation and vote to approve the amendment; 2) vote against approving the amendment; or 3) decide the issue needs more work and study and remand it to another committee, such as LUNR.

This issue is very controversial and has generated much opposition from across the island. A number of islanders have attended Planning Commission meetings over the summer and spoken out strongly against the recreation shed amendment.  Many more  have contacted Town Council in opposition. Islanders have also contacted East Cooper Land Trust and Coastal Conservation League in opposition to the amendment.

At the meeting on September 9th, Planning Commission Chair Gary Visser declined a request from an islander to read into the record the letters received since the last Planning Commission meeting in August, and also refused to characterize the letters as either for or against the amendment. Turns out all of the letters in the packet given to the Planning Commission were clearly opposed. So why not just say so? 

Turns out also that there was a letter in the packet from East Cooper Land Trust, dated August 27th, stating that ECLT no longer wanted to be involved in the process of the zoning ordinance amendment, as it had become controversial.

Seems that is a significant development--to say the least!--and certainly something that the Planning Commission should have made public before taking a vote to recommend the amendment. Why would the Planning Commission continue to act as if there is little opposition or controversy about the recreation shed amendment?

So what should islanders who are opposed to the amendment do now? Plan to attend the Town Council meeting at 6:00 on Monday and speak out during the comment period. If you cannot attend the meeting, contact Town Council and let members know how you feel about the amendment. And stay tuned....

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Planning Commission Public Hearing tonight at 6:30

The Sullivan's Island Planning Commission is holding a meeting tonight to hear what residents have to say about changing SI zoning regulations to allow stand-alone recreation structures on residential lots.The purpose of the the meeting is for islanders to offer feedback to the Planning Commission on the proposed zoning change, so plan to attend, hear what other islanders have to say, and offer comments and concerns.

Click here to read the notice and the agenda for the meeting. Scroll through to see a concise handout put together by Town staff summarizing the key provisions of the proposed language of the zoning amendment.

Also on the agenda is request from an islander to subdivide 2 parcels on Middle St--2214 Middle St.and 2216 Middle St. 

Please attend the meeting tonight if at all possible and let the Planning Commission know what you think about this precedent-setting zoning change on Sullivan's Island. Contact information for the Planning Commission can be found at:

The meeting will be at 6:30 in the Town Hall, 2050-B Middle St.  Parking is in the neighborhoods due to construction of the new Town Hall. 

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Islanders concerned about zoning change

Photo from Power Point presented to the
SI  Planning Commission 8-12-15
Many Sullivan's Island residents are concerned about the precedent-setting nature and unexplored consequences of changing Town zoning ordinances to permit stand-alone recreation structures on lots without a principal residence. If you are concerned, you are not alone! 

With the goal of getting information out about potential changes on Sullivan's Island that would affect the entire community, Sullivan's Island Community Impact encourages islanders to send in comments and questions on issues of concern.

Below is a letter from islander Nancy Fortiere to Town Council and the Planning Commission on the issue of stand-alone recreation structures: 

Mr. Henderson, members of the Planning Commission and Town Council of Sullivan's Island:

I appreciate the responses from Mr. Henderson and Mr. Smith. However, there remain many concerns considering the free standing structures proposed on Sullivan's Island. 

  • Primary, of course, is how they could be built as to withstand hurricane force winds and tidal surges. In the event of such a storm, what is to ensure that they will not come loose and do  damage to a neighboring property? Would there be a plan to assess responsibility in such a case to allow for fair insurance coverages?
  • Say you have a party for 25 people. How will it be determined that the noise is kept at an acceptable decibel, voices as well as music, so that neighbors are not disturbed? If there is parking arranged for two cars, where do the other 10+ cars park without filling the narrow neighborhood streets? Would "one side of the street parking" be able to be enforced?
  • If there are to be no outside lights, how do people see to get to the site in the dark? And even with inside lights, what might be the danger to the turtles that I must turn my porch lights out for during season? 
  • If there is to be no plumbing, what is the plan for people who are obviously going to be drinking beer and other spirits? Portable toilets should be out of the question in a family orientated beach where anyone might use them when they spot them on the property when no one is on the property. 
  • "Keg parties" and other alcohol consumption would be nearly impossible to monitor and would be sure to spread out onto the beach where alcohol is prohibited. There is only one police officer at night, I am told, and he is generally locked in the police station and not patrolling the Island. 
  • Rules would have to be established for weekday/weeknight parties when an officer should be monitoring the Middle Street/Station 22 1/2 area and may need to be in the area of the "structure" as well. 
  • Are the residents of the Island expected to pay for any extra policing of private parties that could conceivably get out of hand? We now know that Sullivan's Island sadly is known as a party-island and that there are often people who disrespect the Island. There is no need to encourage more.
  • People love their dogs and believe they were born to run on the beach. This would be hard to monitor, especially as you say, each one would be required to have a licence and a special collar. Without a direct ban on dogs, the owners for an evening party would have to obtain and pay for their necessary items earlier in the day or not bring the dog. How do you plan on advising "everyone" of the Sullivan Island dog rules before they come to the island? Logistically this is difficult to do.
  • If the property is put into a conservation easement, in the future can the land be purchased by someone who wants a lot to build on? The property mentioned, is not owned solely by Chad Waldorf. It is owned by an LLC. 
  • Suppose one of the members wants to sell his portion? What rules have been put into force that could ensure that this is possible? As a conservation easement, which is permanent, how does one of the owners, or his issue, inherit or sell some or all of it?
  • And how are taxes and insurance determined?  
  • "Conservation Easements" are to remain "NATURAL" and "UNDEVELOPED". This indicates no landscaping can be done on it  and if and when the trees move into the area, they cannot be landscaped. They must be allowed to continue to overtake the property. Is the property owner willing to take this on?
  • Sullivan's island is not rural, suburban, or urban by nature. It is a Township with its own rules and laws. Rusty Bennett, 3124 Marshall Blvd.  a neighbor of this property, has said it is not likely that others will seek the change for this ordinance for another specific property. As I understand it, this is to cover all property owners on the island and should not favor one property owner over another. 
  • It has been suggested that the "Commission consider omitting references to parties and social events". What else might it be used for, for people who have torn down their house and built a structure of this nature, with no plumbing?
  • I also ask how a drastic change such as this, to the town of Sullivan's Island - ostensibly setting it up to be the next Myrtle Beach -  can be effected when there are so many vacancies (as shown in the most recent Island newsletter) on the Planning Commision (4 seats), the Board of Zoning Appeals (5), and the Design Review Board  (3)? It appears to be far from a quorum in any one of them. How can it be expected to make a good conscience vote on behalf of the town's voters? 
  • Enough has already been taken away from voter's rights by secret meetings of Town Council, which fortunately has now presumably been stopped by the State Supreme Court.
  • And last but not least, I want to know why this has all been shoved through so quickly for one person when there are dozens of families who, for the better part of 20 years, have been trying to recoup their front beach views and breezes from the ocean that they paid  for and are heavily taxed on. 
It is abhorrent!

Unfortunately, I am out of state until October and will not be able to attend the September meeting.

I would appreciate it if you would post this for the September meeting.

Thank you.

Nancy Siegling Fortiere
1761 Atlantic Ave.

So what happens next? The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the zoning issue for 6:30 on Wednesday, September 9th. It is likely that the Planning Commission will plan to take a vote at that meeting on whether to recommend that Town Council approve or disapprove the amendment permitting stand-alone cabanas. Town Council could then schedule a vote to approve or disapprove the amendment at its meeting on September 21st.

Many islanders fear that the Planning Commission has already decided to approve the amendment, and that Town Council intends to follow suit. Many are asking what concerned  islanders can do.  

As was illustrated a couple of years ago with another zoning issue, there is quite a bit that islanders can do to change an outcome! The issue then was multi-family re-zoning in residential neighborhoods.

Here is what happened with the multi-family issue:  Back in March of 2013, several SI residents learned that Town Council and the Planning Commission were seriously considering approving multi-family re-zoning in residential neighborhoods on Sullivan's Island. 

Over the next several months, a group from the Thompson Avenue neighborhood circulated a petition opposing the zoning change, eventually garnering 392 signatures from all across the island. 

Many residents from across the island also attended Planning Commission meetings and Town Council meetings and workshops to voice their opposition. Other islanders who could not get to meetings contacted the Planning Commission and Town Council in opposition to the zoning change.

Following all of that, the Planning Commission voted against multi-family zoning in October of 2013. (Click on the link to read lots of interesting comments from islanders and commissioners!) And in November 2013, 6 of 7 Town Council members also voted against multi-family zoning.  (Interesting information in this link as well!)

So islanders CAN make a difference in the outcome of a vote! 
  • NOW is the time for islanders to let Town Council and the Planning Commission know how they feel about this precedent-setting change to SI zoning ordinances and to find out how members are leaning on approval of the amendment. 
  • Plan to attend the Planning Commission's public hearing on September 9th at 6:30. 
  • There will also be an opportunity for islanders to speak directly to Town Council members at the Council Workshop at 6:00 on Wednesday, September 2nd. (Note the special time of the workshop, due to the Labor Day holiday.)  
  • And in the meantime,  follow Nancy Fortiere's lead and write to the Planning Commission and Town Council and let them know of your concerns.
It could all make a very big difference in how the vote turns out. It has happened before....

For more information, click on this link to the Power Point presented at the Planning Commission meeting on August 12, 2015:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Zoning changes on Sullivan's Island?

The Planning Commission decided unanimously to schedule a public hearing for September 9th to receive comments from residents on a proposed amendment to Sullivan's Island zoning ordinances. 

If  approved by Town Council, the amendment would allow property owners to construct a stand-alone open-air structure (gazebo, cabana, pergola, arbor or other open-air structure) on a residential lot in the absence of a principal building on the lot, as long as the property owner established a conservation easement for the property. 

Under existing zoning ordinances, this type of open-air structure would only be permitted if there were a principal structure on the lot. Under the terms of the proposed amendment:
  • The recreation structure could  range in size from 350-450 SF, depending on the size of the lot. 
  • A maximum of 24 people would be allowed at the structure at any one time. 
  • A maximum of 2 vehicles would be allowed on the property.
  • The structure would not be permitted to have exterior lighting or sewer facilities.
  • The stand-alone structures permitted by the proposed amendment would apply to all residential lots on Sullivan's Island. 
  • For lots that are not currently vacant, a property owner wanting to build an open-air structure would be required under the new ordinance to remove all existing structures on the property. 
  • Catherine Main, Executive Director of East Cooper Land Trust, has stated that any amendment should be written in such a way as to incentivize more property owners to do what the Marshall Blvd. property owners want to do.
Click on the power point presented by SI Zoning Administrator Joe Henderson at the August 12th Planning Commission meeting to see examples of properties on SI that could possibly accommodate the sort of open-air structure that would be allowed under the amendment.
  • Included as examples in the power point are photos of a number of vacant lots on SI, showing how those lots would appear if the open-air structures permitted under the new ordinance were to be constructed. 
  • Also included in the power point are photos of existing cabanas at the Isle of Palms, as well as photos of existing cabanas in what is known as the "Cabana District" at Myrtle Beach. 
The accessory structure issue is not on the agenda for the Town Council meeting tonight at 6:00. Council does not plan to vote on the amendment until at least the regular Town Council meeting on September 21st.

So now is the time for islanders with concerns and questions about the amendment to contact the Planning Commission and Town Council. 

And now is the time to let Town Council and the Planning Commission know how you feel about this precedent-setting change to SI zoning ordinances and to find out how members are leaning on approval of the amendment. 

Members of the Planning Commission are listed below.  Contact information for both Town Council and the Planning Commission are shown on  SI Community Impact, here and here.

Here is the link to the power point on the recreation structures presented by Zoning Administrator Joe Henderson:

Here is the link to the text amendment, as currently proposed:

Karen and Barbara

Planning Commission        

Gary Visser  (Chair)                    

Hal Currey (Vice-Chair)      
Charles Cole                          

Carl Hubbard                              

Carlsen Huey                                

Manda Poletti                          

Sydney Cook                


Lisa Darrow, Asst to Town Administrator – Planning Commission Secretary   ph.  883-5744

Joe Henderson, Zoning Administrator  ph. 883-5731

Randy Robinson, Building Official ph. 883-5732

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Zoning change discussion on the agenda tonight at 6:30

The  SI Planning Commission continues to discuss whether to change SI zoning ordinances to allow stand-alone structures and recreational uses on properties zoned residential. The address of the the property currently under discussion is 3117 Marshall Blvd, but any zoning change would apply to the entire community. 

A recommendation by the Planning Commission must also be approved by Town Council. If Town Council approves the zoning change, a similar recreational structure could potentially be built on any vacant lot on the island that has residential zoning. 

Catherine Main, Executive Director of East Cooper Land Trust, has stated that any amendment should be written in such a way as to incentivize more property owners to do what the Marshall Blvd. property owners want to do. (See attached report.)

Based on the discussion at their July meeting, at least some members of the Planning Commission seem to want to figure out a way to make the zoning change happen. 

At the meeting tonight, the Planning Commission will have the option of doing one of the following:
  • Adopt language and schedule a public meeting for comments from residents. Assuming this is the option decided upon, the public hearing would be September 9th.
  • Table the issue for further study
  • Decide against recommending any zoning changes to Town Council.
It is important to find out not only which members of the Planning Commision support changing SI zoning ordinances, but also which members of Town Council support the change.

Here is the link to the report from the July 8th Public Hearing held by Planning Commission.  As the report indicates, the Public Hearing was well attended by islanders voicing questions and concerns about the proposed zoning amendment.

The Planning Commission also discussed the zoning amendment at a meeting on June 11th. The report from that meeting is attached.

The Planning Commission meeting will be held at 6:30 tonight, at SI Town Hall, 2050-B Middle Street. Parking is in the neighborhoods, due to the construction of the new Town Hall.

Hope to see you at the meeting! If you cannot attend, please contact the Planning Commission and Town Council and let the members know what your thoughts are on this issue.

Karen and Barbara
SI Community Impact

Thursday, July 23, 2015

So what happened at the Public Facilities meeting?

Councilman Bachman Smith IV, Chair of the Public Facilities Committee, said at the meeting on July 23rd that providing an additional access trail to SIES through Flag Street was not an option, based on provisions in the school lease, and that the committee should explore other options for bikers and pedestrians to safely get to school.  

Bachman also said it was incumbent upon students to use options currently available to them to get to school safely, such as the sidewalk on Middle Street and the crossing guards already stationed at various points in the area of the school.

The committee plans to discuss the Flag Street issue with the full council at the council workshop on Monday, August 3rd.

The meeting was well-attended by islanders, and there was  lots of good discussion of the issues.  Many thanks to Bachman Smith for an efficient and productive meeting!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Additional access trail for SIES?

Very meaty agenda for the Public Facilities Committee meeting tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 8:30. 

One item involves a letter signed by 22 Sullivan's Island families, requesting that Town Council provide an additional access trail to Sullivan's Island Elementary School through a currently unopened portion of Flag Street.

Are the 22 families who signed the letter aware that opening up this section of Flag Street for access to the school would violate a provision of the school lease? The lease provides for a 70' buffer between the school property and private property located in close proximity to the school.

Attached is a letter in opposition to the proposal from Sullivan's Island resident Ellison Smith, an attorney who has lived on Flag Street for 37 years. Ellison makes a number of excellent points:

  •  The 70' buffer specified in the lease creates an expectation of privacy for the affected property owners and cannot be legally penetrated. 
  • Opening Flag Street to pedestrian and bike traffic will effectively block access to his property during mornings and afternoons when the school is in session.
  • Within the unopened portion of Flag Street are protected massive live oaks and pecan trees.
  • CCSD and SCDOT should have considered this issue when the school was being designed, but they did not.
  • A much more sensible solution would be for CCSD and SCDOT to extend the sidewalk from SIES to Station 18 along the SCDOT right of way.
  • If the proposal to open up Flag Street is adopted by the Town, Ellision states that he will file the appropriate legal challenge to protect his rights.

In addition to breaking a promise to SI residents, a decision by Town Council to open up Flag Street to pedestrian and bike traffic would be fraught with very predictable complications and inconveniences for other residents. 

Why would the Flag Street neighborhood not become just another carpool area, potentially allowing an unlimited number of parents to avoid the carpool line on Ion Avenue?  What about the safety issues associated with THAT? What about the congestion and inconvenience for the many residents living in that area of the island?

And let's put the whole school issue in perspective: At last count, about 52 Sullivan's Island families have children at the school. That number represents only 5.5% of the 950 households on Sullivan's Island. (If those figures are too low, SI CI is happy to be corrected.)

So is Town Council going to once again vote to accommodate the wishes of a small group of islanders, much to the detriment of a much larger group, and in the process break a promise made to all residents-- and also take on yet another lawsuit? Stay tuned....

The meeting will be held at Sullivan's Island Town Hall, 2050-B Middle St at 8:30 am. Here is Ellison's letter: