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City Council, April 14

Concern for misunderstanding, or something else?
And still more grant applications
Marc Knapp

The Mayor said it was to ensure that there was no misunderstanding over the City’s position. Others including Council member Mallard thought it was something more. Some thought it was retribution for frequently crossing the Mayor.

The issue was a speech by Council member Mallard at the County Planning Commission meeting early this week in support of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on the rural side of Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). The property is close to the UGB on Johns Island and abuts the Gift Plantation Development. The Mayor suggested after Council Member Mallard’s speech, some folk might think the City supported the change in zoning, which would lead to higher density housing, and that the City would consider annexing the property. Because of this, the Mayor included a resolution in this week’s Council agenda to reaffirm the City’s commitment to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, and to the maintenance and integrity of the UGB.

Council Member Shirley was nonplussed. Thence flowed a torrent of words that seemed to gracefully surround the question he was trying to ask without defining it. But finally he asked why do we need to reaffirm the UGB? Council member Mallard has every right as a citizen to attend and speak at a public hearing.

The Mayor also waxed mightily about the sanctity of the UGB. Referring to the development and possible annexation, the Mayor said “it would open a Pandora’s box, all the good work going to protect John’s Island would begin to unravel”.

We immediately thought hypocrisy and the annexation by the City of the Long Savannah property two years or so ago. It was outside the UGB and caused much ire on County Council. After all, the City had agreed to respect the County-defined UGB and to not act unilaterally. We were pleased that Council member Shirley later reminded the Mayor of the City’s action.

Mayor Riley responded that the UGB would be breached only in extenuating circumstances. And in the case of Long Savannah, it was the creation of 1800 acres of potential parkland.

Apart for Council member Shirley and the Mayor, Council members had little to say on the issue and Council member Mallard was conspicuously, and uncharacteristically silent. How strongly the members believed a resolution was necessary, we do not know but all voted in favor of the resolution except Council member Mallard.

The Planning Commission, at its meeting on Monday last denied the application to create a PUD. The issue will now move to County Council for a final decision.

And more and more grants
The City Police Department is submitting 6 applications for State Grants totaling $3.5 million. The Mayor acknowledged the work that Police Chief Mullen had put into the initiative. The grants are competitive and the City cannot be certain it will succeed. No City match of funds is required for any of the grants. The largest amount applied for was $1.4 million for digital radio conversion. This was followed by a $970,000 request for mobile communications terminals and a $576,000 request for a gang/violent crime unit.

Also on the agenda was also a request for a $3 million Federal Grant for lead paint hazard control. The City match was $300,000. We were surprised that there was still lead paint in the City that would warrant such expenditure. Some Council members wondered similarly. Well, staff assured Council that lead paint is out there. But Council was also told that a major part of the funds will go on restoration work after the paint is removed. And the City match will come from other grants that had been received through CDGB etc. Some of us were shaking our heads in amazement, grants betgat grants!

CBDG and Home Grants recommendations
The recommendation for the allocation of HUD funds – CDBG and Home - was also tabled last night. Viewers can the allocations by pressing Download file. The figures for 2009 are the recommendations by the City, which administers the funds. They were taken from the agenda documents. However our totals do not match those of the City. The City has made adjustments for transfers and it is not readily apparent to us how to treat these.
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