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County Council, January 18

Administrator to sign for longer term
Other appointments; hearing on Mark Clark extension in February

Warwick Jones

Despite the siren call of a husky Harley Davidson languishing in a garage and lusting for full throttle over open roads, Mack Canterbury will likely succumb to pressure from Council to serve longer. Hired as an interim Administrator for the County, he will be offered a 2 year contract. We don't have the details for we confess to leaving the Finance Committee meeting before the members returned from an executive session. But we do know that he has earned strong applause from Council members since his appointment early last year and we suspect some would have used strong-arm tactics if necessary to keep him at the post.

Mr. Canterbury retired from the County as a deputy administrator a few years ago but was brought back on the retirement of Mr. Roland Windham early last year.

GAB and TAB appointments
And dealing with other appointments, some were announced for County Boards and the Planning Commission. Ms Louise Maybank, who was the Chair of the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB), was reappointed by Council member Schweers. Ms. Maybank was appointed originally by Council member Stavrinakis but was required to give up her seat when he chose not run again. Messrs Kelly Jones Leventis and Mr. Jim Koenig were appointed to the GAB by Council members Mc Keown and Thurmond respectively. Council member Condon will name her appointment in time for the Council meeting on Tuesday as will Chairman Scott who has the obligation to name GAB members for the North and Southern parts of the County.

It was perhaps more than a coincidence that Council member Schweers nominated John Knott to the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB). In a situation similar to that of Ms. Maybank, Mr. Knott was Chairman of TAB. Both played very important roles in the operations of the GAB and TAB respectively, and in the creation of the Comprehensive Greenbelt and Transportation Plans respectively. We would wager that both will again be voted to the Chair of their respective Boards. The only new face on the TAB is Charles Forsyth, nominated by Council member Thurmond. Chairman Scott is to name new members to represent the Northern and Southern parts of the County by Tuesday evening.

Members split on hold-out member of Planning Commission
Unlike the GAB and TAB, where members’ terms end with those of the Council members who appointed them, appointments to the board are for 4 years. This led to an unusual situation in 2005 when then Council member Douan appointed Mr. Paul Speight to the Planning Commission. Because of a dispute over the election result, another election was held and the seat was won by Council member Conlon. Seconded by Council member Bostic, Councilmember Conlon last night requested Council to ask Mr. Speight to resign. This motion failed. Council members McKeown, Thurmond and Pryor spoke against the motion saying that Mr. Speight was within his right to remain on the Commission and no fault lay with him. They did not think it right for Council to pursue what seemed as moral suasion. They were supported by Council members Scott and Darby.

Council suggests transmission line be placed underground
At the first Council meeting of the year, Council agreed to ask SCE&G for a presentation on its plans for the erection of a transmission line in an area in Mount Pleasant. The utility wishes to connect its Hamlin Substation on Porchers Bluff Road to the Isle of Palms 115KV tap line. The request by Council was made because of concern by residents in the community.

SC& G said no decision had been made as to the final route but it seemed no matter what route was chosen, perhaps near 100 households would be affected as the utility will need to obtain a 100 foot right of way. And although the utility had not made a final decision, the Town of Mount Pleasant had decided on the route it preferred, and this was not to the liking of residents

Council members asked the obvious question. Why couldn’t the line be placed underground for all of it length what ever the route? It seemed there was no reason at all except that it would be costly. The SCE&G spokesman said that the cost of above-ground installation was about $350,000 a mile compared with $1.5 to $2 million for underground. However, above-ground construction was not feasible in the marsh area.

Chairman Scott and other members of Council sympathized with residents but the Chairman noted that a decision was beyond the Council. It lay with SCE&G. Council agreed to send a letter to SCE&G asking that it be cognizant of the impact on residents and that the lines be placed underground.

Staff responds to impact study of Mark Clark extension
Staff’s suggestions for implementation of the recommendations of the consultant retained to assess the Community impact of the Mark Clark extension were given last night. The study by consultant EDAW was competed some months ago as were Staff recommendations. But the presentation was deferred a number of time for reasons for which we are unaware.

We commented on the EDAW study on August 17 2006. Staff recommendations were hardly surprising. In many instances, they simply were the maintenance of existing County or City policies, others were common sense recommendations. Some examples:

Study: recommendation: Maintain a coordinated consistent County and City policy on the existing Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).
Staff: Adopt policy in Comprehensive Plan regarding what is required to amend existing UGB.
Study: Restrict water and sewer extensions outside the UGB without approval from the City and County.
Staff: Current Zoning and Land Development regulations require Special Exceptions to extend sewer and water mains.
Study: Limit City annexations to the current UGB.
Staff County can encourage all jurisdictions to limit annexations.
Study: Promote three designated Gathering Places for the Maybank Highway Corridor- Maybank and River Rds, Mid Point of Maybank and River Rds, and Maybank and Main Rds.
Staff: Work with City of Charleston to develop a Plan.
Study: Enhance long range planning capabilities to track, monitor, and manage land use change and development, to enhance affordable housing by contributing to a fund or setting a certain percentage of dwelling units aside in new residential projects
Staff: Develop strategies

Growth was coming regardless
Mr. Dan Pennick of Planning made the presentation and noted that growth was coming to Johns Island regardless. The construction of the Mark Clark extension would simply accelerate this growth. The County needed to manage it. Council member Thurmond endorsed this and noted that the new Johns Island water line would be in place by 2008 and users would double from the present level of 4000 to 8000. New construction could aggravate the many bottlenecks in traffic flow that already exist on some of the main roads

Focus on affordable housing
Council member Bostic said that the study was supposed to gauge the socio-economic impact of the highway extension and asked what it was. Mr. Pennick noted the likely displacement of many property owners because of higher taxes following on rising property values. This had prompted the recommendation for a focus on “affordable housing� to accommodate displaced folk. Council member Inabinett remarked that he hoped that agriculture “will not go away� and sought assurance. Mr. Pennick and Council member Condon noted that Greenbelt funds could be used to purchase development rights which could be sold by farmers to inject cash into their operations and ensure the continuation of farming.

Mark Clark Extension on agenda for Committee in February
Chairman Scott emphasized that the issues of the Mark Clark Extension were major. He said that he would put it on the agenda for the last Finance Committee meeting in February. The public would be invited to speak, he said, and then he smiled. It was probably a nervous smile. He added something in a low voice. It could have been “This will be fun!� The issue is contentious and certainly will draw out many citizens.

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