The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
November 15, 2013
County Council, November 14
Greenbelt grant rejected for easement over Legare family property
Approves $12.5 million for African American MuseumWarwick Jones
We won’t say that the Finance Committee “rubber stamps” the recommendations of the County Greenbelt Bank. But most of the Bank’s recommendations have an easy passage though Council. So the rejection by the Finance Committee of the $900,865 grant to purchase a conservation easement over 314 acres on Johns Island was a surprise. The cost of the easement, at $2,869 an acre, was above the $1,634 an acre average paid by the Bank in 2012. But then again, the land was probably above-average value considering the frontage to the Stono River and the tributaries.
November 08, 2013
County Council, November 7
Council Schweers concerned about compensation over I-526 extension
Proposal to take down election signs within 7 days after an electionWarwick Jones
It wasn’t on the agenda and he didn’t want to discuss it tonight. But Council member Schweers thought that a discussion on I-526 was necessary in view of meetings between some Council members and the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). He thought discussion should be on a future agenda. The Council member didn’t get what he hoped for. There was hostility to the request from Chairman Pryor and derision from Council member Summey. And there was considerable discussion.
November 06, 2013
City Council, November 6
City refutes Wall Street Journal criticism
To provide parking to assist Cigar Factory developmentMarc Knapp
Because of the election on Tuesday, the first Council meeting of the month was moved to last night. Both the agenda and the attendance were light.
October 23, 2013
City Council, October 22
First step in funding the African American museum
More information on 2014 budgetMarc Knapp
Construction of an African American museum focusing on Charleston’s historic role in slavery has been a hope of the City for over a decade. That hope now seems likely to be realized. Last night, Council approved the issue of $12.5 million in revenue bonds to be financed by Accommodation Tax revenues. The proceeds of the bond issue would be used to help fund the $75 million estimated cost of the museum. Mayor Riley also said that the County had agreed to provide $12.5 million and he expected to obtain the balance of needed funds from state, federal and private sources. Construction was likely to begin in 2015.
October 18, 2013
County Council, October 17
Contract awarded for IOP Connector widening
New bar closing ordinance to be implemented in December timesWarwick Jones
The agendas for last night’s meetings were bare. The award of a contract to widen the Isle of Palms Connector was on that of the Finance Committee. The $2.37 million contract was awarded to Banks Construction. It entails work – earthmoving, paving, storm water drains, and traffic lights - from the intersection with I-17 to Riviera Drive, a distance of about a mile. Councilmember Schweers asked why there was only one bidder and would the improvements be finished before “beach” time next year. Staff responded saying that there were few firms with the skill and equipment to undertake the contract. And yes, the improvements would be finished before “beach” season. Council member Schweers also acknowledged that he thought Banks Construction did excellent work.
October 09, 2013
City Council, October 8
Federal grants of over $1.2 million for City Police
Pilot cycle parking program for Lower King StreetMarc Knapp
The agenda for last night’s City Council meeting was light. There was the usual slew of grants or applications for grants, some presentations and annexations. Also, the City’s texting ban received its second and final reading and passed into law.
October 04, 2013
County Council, October 3
“Temporary” employees made “full time”
Another FILOT program for Daimler VansWarwick Jones
The agenda for last night’s Finance Committee meeting was light and none of the items up for discussion seemed controversial. But some Council members had a different view and a lot of heat was generated over some issues.
September 25, 2013
City Council, September 24
City seeks review of Federal Flood Insurance program
Some major changes to Accommodation OverlayMarc Knapp
There were a number on items of interest on last night’s agenda. But perhaps of most interest was one that was not. It came up at the end of the meeting and related to the massive increase in flood insurance premiums should the Federal Biggert–Waters Act of 2012 go into effect as planned at the beginning of next month.
September 20, 2013
County Council, September 19
Reassurances over Consolidated Dispatch
CARTA budget approvedWarwick Jones
Until yesterday, the Public Safety Committee had not met since 2005. Yesterday’s meeting was prompted by the failure of a dispatcher to pass on calls when received at the newly constructed Consolidated Dispatch Center. The failure was well covered in the local media and the individual responsible is now facing criminal charges.
September 11, 2013
City Council, September 10
Compromise on proposed downzoning ordinance
An overlay to replace proposed new Neighborhood Business zoningMarc Knapp
We expected quite a battle over the proposed ordinance to award compensation to those whose properties lose value because of a downzoning. The opposing sides shot off their salvos during last night’s long session. But at the end, compromises were reached.
September 06, 2013
County Council, September 5
Accommodation Tax Fund allocations for FY2104 – no surprises
A Vietnam Veterans Memorial coming to Patriots PointWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting was the first after the summer season - meetings are back to two a month instead of one. And the agenda for yesterday was very light.
July 17, 2013
City Council, July 17
Taxis stands for the Market area
“Roaming” banned in the early hours of the weekendsMarc Knapp
We thought the City’s plan for taxi stands in the Market Area was a good idea. So did Council which unanimously approved the program last night. But some taxi and limousine drivers had concerns.
July 12, 2013
County Council, July 11, 2013
Greenbelt funding to expand Angel Oak park
Second thoughts on early bar closing ordinanceWarwick Jones
Council was in a jolly mood yesterday. There was no apparent reason but goodwill and bonhomme were spread liberally. Even Council member Rawl, not known for his jocularity, cracked a funny and was seen to laugh. And Council member Condon’s questioning as to whether the proposed new and higher fees would cover the cost of time spent by staff on the Kiawah Rivers Plantation controversial, but now dead, Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district, had little bight.
June 19, 2013
City Council, June 18
A stir over a proposed new zoning district
Major expansion of Digital Corridor plannedMarc Knapp
The meeting was held at the Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School and the Mayor asked that it not be long. He planned to attend the memorial service for the fallen Charleston Nine firefighters. The service began at 7 p.m. which left the better part of two hours to wind up the Council meeting. But the Mayor’s hope proved forlorn. Council members seemed indifferent, and the final issue, relating to a rezoning, dragged on for a long time, and in our view too long. And for the attendees who were sitting on the hard and narrow benches at the school, the meeting grew increasingly uncomfortable.
May 31, 2013
County Council, May 30
Controversial issues on the Administration Policy/Rules Committee agenda not discussed
2014 allocations for road projects approvedWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s meeting was expected to be lively. But it wasn’t. The controversial issues of the responsibilities of the County Attorney and the term limit for the Council Chair did not come up for discussion. They were on the agenda of the Administration Policy/Rules Committee. But Council member Rawl, the Chair of the Committee, thought the responsibilities of the County Attorney could be better defined/refined than that described in yesterday’s agenda. He would come back to the Committee after further discussion with both the County Attorney and the Country Administrator. As for the term limit for the County Chair, it was simply passed over and nobody asked why. At least we didn’t hear any questions.
May 29, 2013
City Council, May 28
Late Night Entertainment Ordinance gets final reading
Requirements softened compared to original proposalMarc Knapp
Everybody agreed that something needed to be done. As Police Chief Mullen said, there was a lot to lose if a major incident were to occur on King Street in the crowded late night hours. The reputation of the City as a tourist destination could be badly hurt and recovery could take a long time. The Mayor, Council, and most speakers rising in Citizen’s Participation applauded the proposed Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance before Council last night. Although the ordinance had been refined from that passed at the first reading two week ago, there were still some questions.
May 22, 2013
County Council, May 21
Questions but little anguish over proposed FY2014 budget
Millage increase offset by LOST credit for owner occupied dwellingsWarwick Jones
What a difference an improving economy makes. The Finance Committee had the staff’s proposed budget for FY 2014 before it last night. Some Council members had questions and concerns but there was none of the anguish and divisions that accompanied discussion over the proposed budgets of preceding years. Lower Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) credits, Intergovernmental revenues, and charges and fees, cut heavily into revenue and precipitated some painful belt tightening in those years. Council let its belt out a few notches this year and seems set to let it out a few more in the coming year.
May 17, 2013
County Council, May 16
County steps in to help victims of child abuse
Strong debate on proposed administration/policy rules likelyWarwick Jones
It was hard to oppose. MUSC was before Council pleading for funds to keep its Child Abuse Pediatrics Division (CAPD) running. There was no doubt about the worthiness of the service provided by the Division. But State funds had been cut and the Division needed to make up the shortfall. The County’s municipalities and surrounding counties were being approached to make contributions and eliminate the financing shortfall. Would Charleston County contribute $50,000?
May 15, 2013
City Council, May 14
Council embraces “Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance”
But not so keen on new rule to hide trash containersMarc Knapp
The revitalization of upper King Street has been a remarkable success. Now sporting trendy restaurants, bars and retailers, the street stands in strong contrast to the shabby and neglected appearance some years ago. But the success has brought its own problems – the creep of bars and restaurants onto the fringes of adjacent residential areas and the large crowds of patrons in the late hours of the weekend. The City is attempting to address these problems and Council last night approved the Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance. The ordinance must go through another two readings in its passage and most likely there will be amendments. But from the enthusiasm expressed last night, its passage seems inevitable.
May 02, 2013
Finance Committee kills TIF proposal for Kiawah River Plantation
Great presentation by Johns Island ConservancyWarwick Jones
The Finance Committee voted down the proposed TIF district for the Kiawah River Plantation (KRP) development. After last week’s special Finance Committee meeting where the Beach Company and others gave presentations, the action was not a surprise. Council at that time showed no enthusiasm for the proposal and some Council members were conspicuously hostile to it. And if it were concealed at that meeting, any enthusiasm should have been sundered last night by the presentation prepared by of the Johns Island Conservancy (JIC). The presentation raised a host of issues and called into question the legality and legitimacy of the proposed TIF district.