Street Festivals Denounced; Green Team, Surf Schools Discussed

By Charlie McCarty | Contributing Writer

Folly Beach City Council met for its regular meeting and Work Session on Tuesday, March 10. The Work Session began promptly at 6 p.m. The first to speak was Folly resident LaJuan Kennedy.

Kennedy gave a 10-minute presentation on the adverse image that street closings, festivals, and on-street drinking were giving to events in the City. She said she was reflecting the views of other residents, not just her own, that the emerging image is that of “drunk people falling down on the street.” She charged the Council, as the residents’ representatives, to focus on and fix this situation. 

Mayor Goodwin assigned Council members Hickman, Clamp and Ellis to a committee that will meet with business owners and residents seeking solutions for such events. (Note: the committee met once in March and designated council member Ellis as chair. Other meetings are planned for April before its report on findings and recommendations is due to full Council in May.) Councilmember D.J. Rich pointed out that a question regarding street festivals is on the Comprehensive Plan Survey being sent out to solicit residents’ input on the issue. There was also some dispute and discussion about when and where maps of street closures were provided to residents. Councilmember Dale Stuckey asked the appointed committee members to do a cost/benefit analysis for the festivals.

Next, Marty Morganello, representing the City’s “Green Team,” came before Council to review the committee’s short and long-term plans and suggestions in helping Folly Beach become more green. They will be selling reusable tote bags and refillable water bottles at the Sea & Sand Festival in April to support their efforts. Morganello said he would like to see some of these plans considered in the upcoming FY15/16 budget discussions. Anton Dumars gave a brief PowerPoint presentation on food composting, noting that 2,300 cities across America already have such a program instituted in their communities.  Other suggestions deal with rainwater recycling and improving beach walkovers and related signage.

Further discussion ensued as to more recycling bins being made available as well as weekly recycling pickups during the in-season. It is hoped that these and related Green initiatives can be introduced  into the City’s strategic and comprehensive plans. Mike Ezell said it was important for the City to recognize the Folly Green Team so they can tell people that wish to support their efforts “who to write the check to.”

Nicole DeNeane, Clerk of Court, then addressed an overage experience in the city’s prosecution appropriations. She indicated this is due to both an increase in the amount of work for the prosecutor and an increase in the number of jury trials.

Council Regular Meeting
The regular meeting of Council began promptly at 7 p.m. All Councilmembers were present. In addition the following members of the City Staff were present: Mary Cunningham, Clerk of Council; Spencer Wetmore, Assistant to the Mayor; Eric Lutz, Building Official;  Lee Gessner, Comptroller; Andrew Gilreath, Director of Public Safety; Nicole DeNeane, Clerk of Court; and Ben Peeples, City Attorney.

During the Mayor’s Comments part of the meeting, Mayor Tim Goodwin mentioned numerous citizens had recently passed away, including Kathy Nicklaus, Mike Richard and Debbie Britton, as well as the mother of one of the City’s firefighters.

Staff Reports began thereafter. Clerk of Council Mary Cunningham reported on her meeting with the Event Committee following Folly Gras to discuss what would need to be done better next year including setting up blockades along the parade route to keep people away from the vehicles and renting port-a-lets. She said the parade route and map was distributed via a press release and was also printed in The Sandspur. The event cost approximately $2,100 not including the costs of Public Safety and Public Works.

Personal Appearances
The first to speak during Personal Appearances was Jenny Brown of the Shaka Surf School, who came before Council to request approval to hold her surf camp at 6th Street East for the 11th year. The daily period of the camp would extend from June 1 through August, from 9 a.m. to noon. Councilmember Rich made a motion to approve and Councilmember Clamp seconded the motion. A vote was taken with all in favor.

Next, Kai Dilling of Mt. Pleasant requested permission to hold his “Sol Surfers” week-long surf camps at 8th Street East at Ashley for the 14th year. Councilmember Rich made a motion to approve and Councilmember Clamp seconded the motion. A vote was taken with all in favor.

Marty Morganello of the Folly Green Team, thanked Council for taking the time in the Work Session to listen to the presentations and plans of the committee, and encouraged their support to funding recommended by the Community Promotions Foundation in their upcoming discussion of Resolution 13-15.

Folly resident Keith Bolus followed up on previous comments made by LaJuan Kennedy, giving an impassioned 10-minute recounting of his family’s experiences and perceptions surrounding the recent Folly Gras Festival, which he said he saw through “different eyes” than others. He petitioned Council to take action on such events that he felt led to unrest, traffic delays and public intoxication. In lieu of filing or calling in a formal police complaint, he went on to describe the unsettling experience his wife encountered walking to 5 p.m. church services during which she was accosted and propositioned by three drunk men, two of whom were in a moving vehicle expressing themselves in slurred words. He asked if this type of exposure could lead to some sort of liability by promoting events that allowed drinking in the streets. He said that if the City banned alcohol on the beach, then that should apply to the streets as well. He pointed to recent controls put into effect at Sullivans Island.

Bolus reminded Council that its core responsibility was to guarantee the welfare and safety of its residents. Mayor Goodwin said the members of the newly appointed subcommittee on street festivals would be talking with him about his concerns.

Kannon Price of Charleston, representing the Ripple Effect Surf Camp, requested approval for his Surf Camp for children with autism on May 30 from noon to 5 p.m. at 3rd Street East. He said $1,500 was raised at last year’s event for this cause. He expects 20-30 children to participate, which would give them about 30 minutes with each instructor. He asked for a June 6 rain date. Councilmember Stuckey made a motion to approve and Councilmember Clamp seconded the motion. A vote was taken with all in favor.

Citizens’ Comments
The only person to speak during Citizens’ Comment was Samantha Seibel of 64 Avondale Ave., the Southeast Campaign Organizer for Oceana International, who encouraged Council to pass Resolution R14-15 opposing off-shore drilling.

Unfinished Business
Ordinance No. 01-15, an Ordinance by the Folly Beach City Council amending 162.03-15, “Appeals,” of the Folly Beach Code of Ordinances to direct appeals of the Board of Zoning Appeals to the Clerk of the Charleston County Circuit Court. Introduced by Mayor Goodwin (second reading). Councilmember Scruggs made a motion to approve and Councilmember Hickman seconded the motion. A vote was taken with all in favor. Councilmember Rich made a motion for Third Reading and Councilmember Ellis seconded the motion. A vote was taken with all in favor. Ordinance No. 01-15 passed Third Reading and was enacted.

New Business
Resolution No. R13-15, a Resolution by the Folly Beach City Council granting the sum of $1,000 to the “Folly Green Team,” based on the Community Promotion Foundation’s recommendation for the distribution of community funds. Councilmember Stuckey made a motion to approve and Councilmember Scruggs seconded the motion. Mayor Goodwin indicated these monies are coming from the Community Promotion Foundation’s budget. A vote was taken with all in favor. Resolution R13-15 was approved.

Resolution No. R14-15, a Resolution by the Folly Beach City Council opposing seismic testing and offshore drilling near Folly Beach. Councilmember Stuckey made a motion to approve and Councilmember Scruggs seconded the motion. Mayor Goodwin said resolutions like this one are given to Congressman Sanford so they can make Congress aware of the will of the people. A vote was taken with all in favor. Resolution R14-15 was approved.

Council Comments
During Council Comments, Council member Hickman asked all to be safe as the crowds start coming onto the beach. Councilmember Stuckey further noted the large number of students celebrating Spring Break this week at Folly. Councilmember Clamp welcomed Councilmember Hickman back and looked forward to working on the street festival committee. Councilmember Scruggs thanked the Folly Green Team for their presentation and reiterated that Kathy Nicklaus would be missed. The Council meeting was adjourned at 7:29 p.m.

Addendum – Budget Time!
As we go to press, the review of the 2015-16 City Budget opened with two dedicated Council workshops during the last week in March. Lee Gessner, Director of Finance, presented the overview of the City’s financial position and Department heads presented their respective organizational needs for the new fiscal year.

The initial draft of the narrative proposed two increases for revenue that would include a 5 mil increase to local property taxes and a 2 percent increase in SCE&G franchise fees to City tax payers. Initial projections of expenditures totaled $5.4 million, up from last year’s total of $4.9 million. The next Budget workshop is slated for April 7 at 10 a.m. The session will be televised on Comcast Channel 195.

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