City Attorney Out, Comp. Plan and Folly Festivals Discussed
By Charles McCarty | Staff Writer
The Folly Beach City Council met twice in December. Its first meeting was Tuesday, Dec. 8. A Work Session began at 6 p.m. with all Councilmembers present, except Councilmember Eddie Ellis. The session featured a detailed presentation by Zoning Administrator Aaron Pope. Pope reviewed in-depth the highlights of the Needs and Goals section of the Comprehensive Plan in anticipation of the Public Hearing on the Plan slated for early January (see below). This section specified 38 “Needs” the City should commit to addressing, and aggregated these into three areas: Protecting Natural Resources, Protecting the Community’s Character and Enhancing Public Services.
Pope reminded Council that this final draft version of the Comprehensive Plan recognized and encapsulated references to the Beach Management Plan, the Parks & Recreation Plan, the Economic Impact Study, and numerous other studies and plans that are currently guiding the City’s administration and management. He recognized the dedication and processes the Planning Commission has committed to since November 2014. These entailed twice monthly workshops and meetings, two formal hearings, and a citizen’s survey. He said the Commission promoted inclusion and transparency through the utilization of the City website, social media and the local news media (including this newspaper and the City-sponsored Civic Club newsletter “Sandspur.”)
The Planning Commission will hold the final public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at 7 p.m. After the hearing the Plan will be presented to Council for the First Reading on Jan. 12. Questions, comments, or suggestions regarding the Plan should be directed to Aaron Pope at 843-276-5568 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, Folly’s citizens are encouraged to attend one or both of these to offer comments on the Plan. The Plan and related documents are available on the City’s website: www.cityoffollybeach.com.
The Regular Meeting of City Council convened at 7 p.m. The following staff were noted as attending: City Administrator Spencer Wetmore, City Attorney Ben Peeples, Director of Finance Lee Gessner, Zoning Administrator Aaron Pope, and Building Official Eric Lutz.
Mayor Tim Goodwin encouraged residents to support the Folly economy during the holiday shopping season by buying local. He also listed upcoming holiday events including Children’s Christmas, the Christmas Parade, the Flip Flop Drop and the Polar Bear Plunge. He indicated that former Councilmember Wallace Benson has not been feeling well lately, and folks should remember him this season.
Nicole DeNeane, the City’s Clerk of Court, gave an update on ticketing and parking violation management. She reported on new initiatives being handled by the court including an online payment system, new parking tickets and the collections effort for delinquents with unpaid parking tickets. The collection effort in November yielded $105,240.44 for the City. She explained this large amount would be a “one-time bump” and expected revenues to be lower moving forward. DeNeane said that she and Public Safety Chief Andrew Gilreath were researching software that will improve the interoperability of the Court and Public Safety departments and that they will return before Council in the future to discuss the proposed purchase of a compatible system. Council than unanimously approved the evening’s Agenda and the Minutes of the November 10 meeting.
Kerry Hupp of the Folly Beach Arts and Craft Guild came before the Council requesting permission for food trucks to be allowed at seven Art Guild events at the City Park in 2016. She indicated that preference is to use local vendors who already have Folly Beach business licenses. She envisioned one or two trucks on Center Street in front of the Folly River Park and/or a vendor inside the park under the shelter. In the ensuing discussion, Councilmember DJ Rich suggested starting with a vendor working under the shelter and see what kind of interest would be generated. A vote was taken as follows: Ayes: Sandi Hickman; Nays: Dale Stuckey, Tom Scruggs, Rich, Pennell Clamp, Mayor Goodwin. Hupp’s request failed 1- 5. Mayor Goodwin encouraged her to return if current vendor plans don’t work out.
Kevin Bayer, of Channing Way in Goose Creek, and wrestling coach at Stratford High School, came before Council on behalf of USA Wrestling requesting permission to host beach wrestling on the beach by the pier on June 4. He gave details on how the matches are set up and the other beaches where such events are held. During discussion, Councilmember Stuckey was concerned about the number of people on the beach at that location as a result of approved franchise guidelines that Council recently enacted. Mayor Goodwin suggested Bayer meet with Chief Gilreath to view possible locations for such an event or to contact the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission to see if Folly Beach County Park would be available.
Krystyna Andrash of Sterling Drive in Charleston and Race Director, came before Council requesting permission for the 3rd Annual Cupid’s Undie Run to be held Saturday, Feb. 13. She thanked Council for their previous support, noting a slight change in the route. She stated she would be meeting with Chief Gilreath about the event. Proceeds from this event are dedicated to the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Her request was approved unanimously.
Roger Van Dyke of West Ashley Avenue suggested pursuing a partnership with the Port of Charleston. Mayor Goodwin indicated that some efforts have already been initiated to do so, but at this time, he was not able to say anything further. Van Dyke also expressed concern about access to Long Island. Mayor Goodwin said currently there is no place from which to launch a boat to access Long Island. City Attorney Ben Peeples confirmed the Mayor’s statement.
Tom Reed of East Cooper Ave. suggested increasing the speed limit along the causeway to 45mph. He also stated there were needs for more “No Parking Anytime” signs on East and West Arctic avenues. Councilmember Rich stated he felt that there is already sufficient signage on Arctic already.
Council, in second reading, considered Ordinance No. 23-15 amending Chapter 151 of the Folly Code dealing with Beach Preservation and Construction Provisions, by amending Sections 151.011, Stowing Boats and Watercraft of Beach, and Section 151.14 Use of the Beach. Mayor Goodwin stated the third paragraph dealing with permits was being removed because no one is allowed to store watercraft on the beach presently. The amending ordinance was passed unanimously and adopted.
Council unanimously approved without discussion Vincent M. Perna of Clark Sound Circle, Charleston (current Sales Manager of Dunes Properties on Folly Beach) to the Tourism Visitor Promotion Committee.
Council also unanimously approved Resolution No. R51-15 granting the sum of $2,500 to the Folly Association of Businesses for “FollyGras,” as recommended by the Community Promotion Foundation, the same amount given previously.
Council then considered Resolution R62-15 that would authorize City Administration to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Charleston, Charleston County, James Island and the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments to jointly execute and implement the goals laid out in the Rethink Folly Road Plan. Councilmember Rich indicated the plan had some good goals, he felt it did not do enough to improve traffic flow. He felt more emphasis should be placed on better traffic features and less on beautification. Josh Martin, of Dover/Kohl (the County’s consultant for the project), stated the plan calls for specific traffic studies moving forward, adding the plan is to accommodate vehicles, not eliminate them. Rich had concerns about Council voting on this issue without the clarification that was needed. Martin stated the plan was based on the Federal government’s desire to have “complete streets” and that it would be inappropriate at this time to do traffic studies when previously approved road projects have not yet come to pass. Councilmembers Scruggs and Stuckey felt the resolution would allow the City to be part of the discussion as the plan is implemented. Martin pointed out that cooperation between jurisdictions opens funding sources for the project. Council approved the resolution by a 5-1 margin, Councilmember Rich dissenting.
After clarifications were made by Councilmember Hickman and the City Administrator regarding some features and fixtures associated with Pre-Approved Special Events, Council unanimously approved Resolution No. R63-15, adopting the recommendations of the Festival Committee. The following events are pre-approved: Taste of Folly (January), Folly Gras (February), Sea and Sand (March), FollyPalooza (October), Christmas Parade (December), and the Flip Flop Drop (December).
Council then considered Resolution No. R64-15 and unanimously approved a revised organizational chart for the City. Key features of the revision included the combination of the oversight of both the Buildings and Public Works directorates, the establishment of a separate Utilities manager office, and the establishment of a “dotted line” relationship between the City Administrator and the Council’s Municipal Clerk and Clerk of Court positions.
In considering Resolution No. 65-15, Council unanimously re-established the Christmas Tree Recycling Project in which Public Works will collect at curb Christmas trees, and then mulch and distribute the mulch on the City’s parking areas and pathways.
Council approved 2016 water rate increases in Resolution No. R66-15. These increases will be from 11 to 12 cents per thousand gallons for users, while the base fees for both monthly and quarterly users will remain unchanged. While Councilmember Clamp expressed concern about the rate increase, Mayor Goodwin and Finance Director Gessner indicated the City financial situation is such that Council has no choice but to “pass through” the purchase rate increases to our system users. The resolution passed on a 5-1 vote, Mr. Clamp dissenting.
Ordinance No. 24-15 amending Chapter 33 Section 33.002 of the Code of Ordinances, dealing with City Departments and positions was considered in order to enact changes in City organization as delineated in Resolution R64-15 (above). This amendment separated Utilities and Public Works, added Administration, Finance, and Information Technology, combined Zoning, Planning, and Business Licenses, and combined Building and Facilities. The ordinance was passed unanimously in First Reading.
Ordinance No. 25-15 proposed amending Ordinance No. 02-15; the First Supplement to the FY 15-16 Adopted Budget for General Fund. This amendment proposed reductions in the Public Works account in the amount of $23,178, and added $8,893 to the Facilities, Building account. These changes were reflected primarily in personnel and contractual expenses. There was no discussion, and the amendment was passed unanimously in First Reading.
Ordinance No. 26-15 proposed amending Ordinance No. 08-15; The First Supplement to the FY 15-16 Adopted Budget for the Folly Beach Water Utility. The amendment reflected needed increases in contractual support for a water operator, on-call back-up, and personnel health expenses as well as reductions in salary and other personnel expenses. There was no discussion and the ordinance was passed unanimously in First Reading.
Ordinance No. 27-15 proposed amending Ordinance No. 09-15; The First Supplement to the FY 15-16 Adopted Budget for the Folly Beach Sewer Utility to reflect a slight reduction in Public Works salaries and benefits, coupled with increased health insurance costs. There was no discussion and the amendment past unanimously in First Reading.
Ordinance No. 28-15 proposed adoption of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan in First Reading. In discussion, Councilmember Stuckey made a motion to remand Ordinance No. 28-15 to the Planning Commission and Councilmember Scruggs seconded the motion. The motion to remand was unanimously passed, and Ordinance No. 28-15 was remanded to the Planning Commission.
Ordinance No. 29-15 proposed amending Chapter 153, Section 153.06, Permission from the City is Required for Some Special Events on Public Property, by Adding Folly Gras to the List of Pre-approved Events and Allowing Event Organizer to Decide Date and Logistics (First Reading). In discussion, the issues whether dates or details of logistics of prescheduled special events had to come before either the Staff, Event Committee or Council for resolution. Councilmember Stuckey stimulated an exchange in motions to amend and clarify these issues that also was enjoined by Councilmembers Scruggs and Clamp. Her original motion to amend failed in a tie vote, with Councilmembers Rich and Hickman voting affirmatively with Stuckey and Councilmembers Scruggs, Clamp, along with Mayor Goodwin opposing. A second motion by Clamp to postpone discussion was seconded by Scruggs, but Mr. Scruggs withdrew his second, and Clamp’s motion to postpone died. Finally Councilmember Stuckey made a motion to amend Section (F)(4) to include Folly Gras and to leave the rest with its original language with no deletions, assuring that the dates and general details for these events, once known, are communicated to the Mayor and Council by the City Administrator. Councilmember Scruggs seconded the motion, and the Council unanimously passed the ordinance as amended in First Reading.
At this point (at 8:43 p.m.), Council left Chambers, moving to Executive Session to consider a personnel issue. Less than a handful of members of the Public remained awaiting Council Comments and the adjournment of the meeting. At 9:25 p.m., Council returned to Chambers, at that point Mayor Goodwin reiterated the purpose of the Executive Session and reported no votes were taken.
New Business (not on the Agenda)
Returning to business, Council member Scruggs made a motion directing the City Administrator to develop a job description for the position of City Attorney and advertise for candidates. Councilmember Stuckey seconded the motion. A vote was taken with all in favor.
Council members expressed sadness and sympathy over the passing of Brian Porter, who served the City for 55 years, and thanked City Attorney Ben Peeples for his many years of service.
The meeting adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
Special Meeting on Dec. 12
Council advertised and convened a Special Meeting for Thursday, Dec. 12 at 12:30 p.m., and moved immediately into Executive Session for the personnel purpose of interviewing candidates applying for the vacant position of Municipal Clerk. Rather than adjourning as listed on the agenda, Council reconvened in an open session and authorized the City Administrator to make an offer of appointment to applicant Colleen Jolley as Municipal Clerk. The offer was made and immediately accepted Jolley, who assumed her duties on Monday, Dec. 14.