The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
August 22, 2014
County Council, August 21
Pay issue taken off agenda
Discussion on CRDA set for next TuesdayWarwick Jones
Attendees at last night’s Finance and Economic Development Committee’ meetings were not only disappointed but also punished. There was no discussion or decision on raising the remuneration of Council members, or contributions to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA), both very controversial issues. But attendees also had to wait through two executive sessions, which took up about half of the 3 hour meetings.
February 21, 2014
County Council, February 21
Another “unqualified opinion” auditor’s report
FY2014 budget outlook goodWarwick Jones
It was smiles all round at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. The County was heaped with praise by its auditors who gave again an “unqualified” opinion on its accounts and funds; staff gave favorable reports on the 2013 budget and the outlook for the FY 2014 budget. The Committee also agreed unanimously to approve the Greenbelt Bank grant to assist the purchase of land abutting Angel Oak.
August 31, 2012
County Council, August 30
Hunting rights issues cause deferral of Fairlawn greenbelt grant hearing
Council member Qualey tries to stop study of Kiawah River Plantation TIFWarwick Jones
There was a lot of talk at the Finance Committee last night but not much action. Council member Darby was not happy that the owners of Fairlawn Plantation had asked that a decision on their Greenbelt grant be deferred. He wanted a vote and thought that deferrals of matters brought before Council had been granted in an inconsistent manner. Many Council members disagreed and after prolonged discussion, voted to defer a decision on Fairlawn for 90 days. And then there was the Kiawah River Plantation TIF agreement. Council member Qualey sought to kill consideration of a TIF district to aid the development. And this too went nowhere.
August 15, 2012
County Council, August 14
No referendum on I-526 completion
Issues over Greenbelt purchase of Fairlawn PlantationWarwick Jones
Predictably, there was a lot of discussion and heat over Council member Rawl’s request to hold a referendum on the completion of I-526. The item was the last on the Finance Committee’s agenda and drew possibly a hundred or so citizens to the meeting. However, there was no opportunity for any to speak. And we doubt that this would have made a difference. Just about everything that can be said about the project has been said. Council was generally reluctant to again take up the issue. It was voted down, 6 to 2 with one abstention.
October 21, 2011
County Council, October 20
Funding issues for Greenbelts
“Qualey” Plan approved for Harbor View RoadWarwick Jones
Differences seem to be growing on Council as to the direction of greenbelt funding. Some Council members contend that too much as been spent on conservation easements. More funding needs to be directed to acquiring property where the public has access, they say. The difference came to a head last night when a project approved by the Greenbelt Bank failed to win approval by the Finance Committee. The vote was evenly divided (4/4). Council member Summey was absent last night and his vote will be critical when Council meets on Tuesday evening next and the item is again considered. Council members Darby, Qualey, and Johnson, and Chairman Pryor voted against the approval at yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting. The slow deliberation by Council member Rawl suggests he too has some reservations about the financing of conservation easements.
August 12, 2011
County Council, August 11
Issues with some Greenbelt fund applications
Harborview Road project on hold for 30 days
We thought the recommendations of the Urban Grants Review Committee, the Greenbelt Bank and staff over greenbelt fund grants would be quickly approved by Council. We were wrong. Council took issue with some of the recommendations and rejected three applications and deferred another.
June 03, 2011
County Council, June 2
Council wrestles with next move on I-526 extension
Concern over lower sales tax revenues and impact on Greenbelt programWarwick Jones
Chairman Pryor made an effort to find a solution to the I-526 impasse at last night’s Finance Committee meeting. But Council seemed unenthusiastic and sought time to dwell on approaching the issue.
April 28, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board
Final recommendations on changes to Greenbelt Plan
To go to Finance Committee on May 13Warwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) determined its final recommendations on changes to the County’s Green belt Plan at yesterday's meeting. Generally, they were little different to the draft recommendations made two weeks earlier. The latter were reviewed in the light of public comment over the last 2 weeks.
April 14, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board, April 14
Drafts recommendations for changes to Green Belt Plan
Takes steps to consider plan for small landownersWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) yesterday finalized its deliberations over recommendations for changes to the County’s Greenbelt Program. The proposed changes will now be posted on the County’s web site for public comment. At its next meeting, on April 27, the GAB will review public comments and approve final recommendations. The latter will then go to the Finance Committee for consideration.
March 24, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board, March 23
Will stick with present system of allocations for Urban Unincorporated
Issues over rural scoring still to be resolvedWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) yesterday continued its series of meetings to address issues directed to it by Council, and other matters. At the next meeting, scheduled three weeks hence, the GAB will need to decide on its recommendations, to enable time for a public hearing and submission to Council before Council begins time consuming budget deliberations.
March 10, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board, March 9
Accommodate small landowners but not at expense of standards
Beach communities seek more fundsWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board met for the second time since Council affirmed the fundamentals of the County Greenbelt Plan. Yesterday, it began deliberation over issues Council had raised, as well as some others. The last meeting of the GAB was mostly taken up with a presentation by Staff on the “purchase of development rights” (PDR) as a tool in the conservation tool box. The use may be particularly useful for the preservation of farm land and of particular value for small land holders.
February 24, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board, February 23
Defining the issues for future consideration
A presentation on the Purchase of Development rights for Agricultural landWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) has some busy months in front of it. Late last year, Council asked that the GAB to take a look at the Greenbelt Plan and to address some issues that Council members had. The Board met and affirmed unanimously the original fundamentals of the Plan. But it decided that before addressing the specific issues, a reaffirmation of the fundamentals of the Plan should be made by Council. Implied was that without this reaffirmation, it may have been pointless to address the specific issues.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:33 PM
February 12, 2010
County Council, February 11
Mead/WestVaco development comes closer to fruition
Greenbelt Plan fundamentals reaffirmedWarwick Jones
There was not too much on the agendas but yesterday’s meetings were lengthy. Much of the time was taken up by a presentation by a spokesman for Mead/WestVaco in relation to plans for its large property in the western part of the County. And then there was a presentation by the consultant to the County on the Greenbelt Plan.
January 29, 2010
County Council, January 28
Problems plague County’s digital radio system
Consultant to be hired to review Motorola’s proposed remedyWarwick Jones
All is not well in the implementation of the County’s new Digital Radio system. Staff wants to hire a consultant to review Motorola’s plan to rectify the problems. The County signed a contract with Motorola in 2005 for its entire analog system to be converted to digital. The new P225 system was identical to that being used by the Federal Government and other national entities.
January 12, 2010
Greenbelt Advisory Board
Fundamentals of the County Greenbelt Plan reaffirmed unanimously
Conservation easements a better tool than fee simple purchases for conservation
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) today affirmed the principles of the County Greenbelt Plan. The GAB was asked by County Council late last year to take another look at the plan and make recommendation for changes. This request followed the expression of unease by some Council members that much of the green belt funds was directed to the purchase of conservation easements where no public access was possible. Some Council members thought that fee simple acquisitions would be better and which would allow public access.
November 13, 2009
County Council, November 12, 2009
Advisory Board asked to evaluate greenbelt program
Public access is one major issueWarwick Jones
At a Finance Committee meeting last month, some Council members expressed unease about the County’s greenbelt program. Was too much being spent on conservation easements and not enough on properties that allowed public access? What was the County’s liability in relation to administering easements? In consequence, the Committee instructed staff to make a presentation on the status of the Greenbelt program. And this was given last night.
October 16, 2009
County Council, October 15
Issues over the Greenbelt Plan
Accommodation tax allocations and objections to that for HollywoodWarwick Jones
The discussion on the County’s greenbelt program last night left a number of Council members confused. Chairman Pryor opined that when citizens voted for the half cent sales tax and the concomitant greenbelt program, they thought that they would have access to the greenbelt land. The greenbelt program has financed a large number of conservation easements which may preserve the land use but ownership remains unaltered and in most cases there is no provision for public access. Further, Council member Rawl found something wrong with conservation-oriented land trusts seeking funds from the Greenbelt Bank to purchase conservation easements from land owners, and that these trusts would be reimbursed by the owner for costs and other items. He also questioned the certainty that the trusts could continue to manage the conservation easements that the County had financed through the Greenbelt Bank.
October 02, 2009
County Council, October 2
Greenbelt Bank recommendation ignored, Hollywood to get $4.6 million for park
Moving to better plan for waste water services
There wasn’t too much on last night Finance Committee agenda. But it was a long meeting. A presentation by staff on waste water disposal took up much of the time. But the decision on a Greenbelt grant to the Town of Hollywood to buy an 8 acre property for a park was the most interesting and contentious item.
September 04, 2009
Greenbelt Bank, September 3
To provide $3.84 million financing for 9 rural projects
Limited funds and high values restrain enthusiasm for 2 othersWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Bank approved without qualification 9 rural projects at its meeting yesterday, and agreed to contribute $3.84 million to their financing. However, Board members were mindful of the limited funds at their disposal and were cautious over two projects whose valuations they thought were too high. They agreed to provide financing but the amounts were less that those sought. Both applicants will now attempt to negotiate lower sale prices with the respective vendors or raise supplemental funds. For list of applications, Download file
August 07, 2009
Greenbelt Bank, August 6
Members still uneasy about Hollywood application
Funds running low
Despite a $1 million reduction in the offer price, board members of the County Greenbelt Bank were still unhappy about financing the purchase of potential parkland in Hollywood. There was no dispute that Parkland Plantation was a pretty piece of property - 7 acres on the waterfront and with dock facilities. But at $4.8 million it was still a lot of money. And in the view of some Bank members, too much.
May 08, 2009
Greenbelt Bank, May 7
Requests for $23.2 million but only $3.9 million awarded
$39 million available for further funding
The latest round of applications for rural greenbelt funds brought eight submissions. The total amount sought was $23.2 million and if approved, would have dug deeply into the balance of funds available. However, only 4 projects were approved and the grants awarded totaled $3.9 million. Total funds available before the approvals of yesterday were $42.9 million. Partly reflecting the concerns of depletion, the Greenbelt Bank rejected one application and deferred decisions on the others, telling one applicant to seek a lower purchase price and another to provide more information.
October 02, 2008
Greenbelt Bank, October 2
Approves acquisition of property on the ICW
Other projects go to Finance Committee todayWarwick Jones The County’s Greenbelt Bank approved another application for a rural grant at its meeting today. It was for $2.85 million, to be used to fund half of the purchase price of a 60 acre tract near Awendaw. The application was made by the Town of Awendaw. The ultimate owner under the scheme proposed by the Town would be the County Parks and Recreation Commission. The PRC would provide the other half of the funds, and would also manage the property
Posted by Warwick Jones at 12:05 PM
May 01, 2008
County Greenbelt Bank, May 1
Approves rural grants totaling $2.6 million
Another 1600 acres protectedWarwick Jones
In its meeting today to consider the first round of applications for calendar 2008, the County Greenbelt Bank approved rural grants totaling $2.6 million covering nearly 1600 acres. The major portion of the grants went to finance the purchases of conservation easements. Of the five properties considered, three were on Edisto Island, one adjacent to the town of Awendaw and the other close to the town of Meggett.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 02:10 PM
April 03, 2008
Greenbelt Bank, April 3
A summary of last year’s Greenbelt financings
Considerable funds remainWarwick Jones
The meetings this week of the Greenbelt Bank and the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) had a common feature - a summary presentation of the greenbelt program by Cathy Ruff, Director of Greenbelts Programs.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 11:18 AM
December 05, 2007
Greenbelts Advisory Board, December 4
Summary of Greenbelt grants for 2007
Substantial funds still availableWarwick Jones
Staff presented a summary of the Greenbelt grants made in 2007. These grants are related to the half-cent sales tax introduced in 2005. Since the Grants program was introduced early this year, the Greenbelt Bank has approved 21 projects and made grants totaling $16.2 million. The Urban Grants Review Committee has approved 15 projects and made grants of $9.9 million.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:40 AM
November 14, 2007
Greenbelts – Urban Grants Review Committee
Grants totaling $8.4 million approved
Political decision on controversial Bear Swamp Road tract left to CountyWarwick Jones
The Urban Grants Review Committee (UGRC) met yesterday to review the second round of applications for urban grants from greenbelt funds. In total, it approved $8.4 million, all for fee simple purchases. Grants to only two applicants received less than the amounts applied for - St Andrews Parish Parks and Playground and the City of North Charleston. In both cases, the appraised values of the land were less than the amounts requested.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:15 PM
November 02, 2007
Greenbelt Bank, November 1
Some legal issues sorted out
$24 million still available for distributionWarwick Jones
Yesterday’s meeting of the County Greenbelt Bank was essentially one for review. The second round of applications for rural grants was approved at the last meeting and were to go to County Council on Thursday night for final approval (They all were approved ) Staff also apprised the board of the status of previously approved applications. All seemed likely to move to completion shortly. The State Conservation Bank had also made grants to applicants in the Greenbelt Bank’s first round. The grants made by the County Greenbelt Bank would be reduced accordingly. The major grants by the State bank were $100,000 to both Salt Landing and Sand Creek projects.
October 04, 2007
Grants totaling $5.4 million approved by Greenbelt Bank
City of Charleston request approved but with conditionsWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Bank approved 6 applications for rural grants at its meeting today. The grants totaled $5.4 million. Most of the grants related to conservation easements on properties on Edisto, Johns, Yonge and Wadmalaw Islands. The application by the City of Charleston was also approved for a park adjacent to the proposed Long Savannah development in West Ashley. But the approval came with conditions.
September 18, 2007
County Planning Commission, September 17
Work on new Comprehensive Plan for County begins
Final plan could take more than a year to completeWarwick Jones
State law obliges counties to prepare a full update of their Comprehensive Plans every 10 years. The first Comprehensive Plan (CP) prepared by Charleston County was completed in 1999. A new plan is required by 2009. To meet State requirements, the County earlier this year retained consultants, at a cost of $250,000 to prepare the new plan. Mr. Dan Pennick, head of Planning for the County said it would take 12 to 14 months to complete and should be ready before the 2009 deadline.
September 06, 2007
Greenbelt Bank, September 6
Second round of applications draws 8 submissions for rural grants
A total of $4.6 million is soughtWarwick Jones
There are eight applications in the second round of applications for rural grants, members of the Greenbelt Bank board were told by staff today. The requests total $4.6 million and cover 1666 acres, equal to about $2770 an acre. The latter figure compares with about $5500 an acre from applications in the first round.
September 04, 2007
Greenbelt Advisory Board, September 4
Providing guidance on “heritage” landscapes
Land that is purchased needs unique qualitiesWarwick Jones
There was only one matter of importance before the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) today. It related to guidance for the Greenbelt Bank in deciding on applications for grants relating to “heritage” landscapes. The Bank had requested guidance after hearing the first round of applications for greenbelt funds derived from the half-cent sales tax. Some of the applications related to heritage landscapes, and one in particular, caused some unease on the Board. To ease future decision making, it requested better guidance from the GAB.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 06:10 PM
August 08, 2007
Greenbelt Advisory Board, August 7
How to rank “heritage and cultural” sites for funding?
Any evaluation will be subjectiveWarwick Jones
Deliberation over “heritage and cultural sites” took up most of the time at the August meeting of the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB). The County Greenbelt Bank had asked the GAB to more fully define the term and to give it more guidance in setting criteria for allocation of funds. From the discussion yesterday, it is possible the Bank will not get what it hoped for. It is not that the GAB was reluctant to provide guidance; it is just difficult to provide firm guidelines when values are very subjective.
July 18, 2007
Greenbelt Bank, July 18
Three more rural applications approved
Concern about proposed PRC purchase of Harmony Hall property
The Greenbelt Bank approved three more financings at its meeting today. The applications were presented and discussed at an earlier meeting but decisions deferred. In two cases, the deferral was to allow the applicant to seek a lower purchase price and thereby lower funding, and the other, to gather more information. The Board was happy with the new information and unanimously approved all the applications.
June 06, 2007
Greenbelt Advisory Board, June 5
Fine tuning the Greenbelt grant process
The Greenbelt Advisory Board met yesterday, its first meeting in the wake of the approval of grants for Greenbelt acquisitions using half-cent sales funding. The grants were approved by the Greenbelt Bank and the Urban Grants Review Committee (UGRC) last month. In accordance with the Greenbelt Comprehensive Plan, the Parks and Recreation (PRC) has also signed off on the urban grants. Both the urban and rural grants now will go before Council for final approval.
May 22, 2007
Greenbelt Bank Meeting, May 21
Bank kicks off with over $11 million in grants
But refuses to make a decision on Long Savannah parcel
The distribution of sales tax funds for greenbelt purchases is now fully underway. The Urban Grants Committee met earlier this month and approved a number of applications for urban grants. Yesterday, the Charleston County Greenbelt Bank approved 11 applications for rural grants. Before being distributed, the urban grants must be approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) - which by coincidence, approved them yesterday- and then by the County Council. In the case of rural grants, approval is needed only by County Council.
May 21, 2007
Shrimp 'n Grits
Really Go Green –Build Urban Parks!
Last week, after a downtown business meeting and with a few minutes to spare, I drove to White Point Gardens and parked to watch one of the larger Tall Ships enter the Harbor for this past weekend’s Maritime Festival. As I gazed about the park that I remembered playing in as a young boy, something seemed missing from the majestic canopy of old Live Oaks that shaded this still beautiful, albeit now shop-worn creation of Olmstead’s genius. It took a few minutes until realizing that there wasn’t a hand-full of moss (Spanish Moss – neither Spanish nor moss, but an epiphyte) to be seen anywhere. Later while driving around the Lower Peninsula, I began consciously searching for any sign of this commonplace vegetation that still graces and accentuates most mature oak canopies throughout the more rural settings of the Lowcountry. One can’t help but be impressed by the beautiful old gray beard oaks that still line most heavily wooded roadways throughout the Sea Islands and surrounding rural landscapes south of Charleston. Ever the curious, I called an acquaintance who was in the landscape business and asked why there was no longer any Spanish Moss in the Peninsula. His answer was short and to the point – air pollution.
May 09, 2007
Greenbelts – Urban Grants Review Committee, May 8
Some dissention over application from Town of James Island
Committee approves grants of $1.85 millionWarwick Jones
The determination of grants of greenbelt funds took a first step yesterday. The Urban Grants Review Committee had the first 17 applications before it. It approved 5. The remainder were rejected because they were incomplete and not because of insufficient merit. The applicants can reapply for consideration at the next round of approvals later this year. In total, the Committee approved grants totaling $1.85 million. The applications will now move to the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) for endorsement and further scrutiny. They will then move to County Council for final approval.
May 02, 2007
Greenbelt Advisory Board, May 1
New members and a review
Some discussion on Long Savannah developmentWarwick Jones
It is some months since the last Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) meeting. As most members are appointed by Council members, there were a number of new members following the County election last November. There are 14 members of the Board of which 5 are new. Another member should be appointed shortly by the Town of Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant and the cities of North Charleston and Charleston each have the right to appoint a member as well.
March 28, 2007
City Council, March 27
Seeks funds for Greenbelts
Hopes to move the UGB and to annex Long Savannah Plantation developmentWarwick Jones, standing in for Marc Knapp who has a "buggy" stomach
There were a lot of items on yesterday’s City Council Agenda which we thought were worthy of some discussion. And as happens too frequently, there was little or no discussion. In particular there was the $1.96 million distribution of CDBG and Home grants from HUD, an ordinance relating to the Neck Development and the applications to the County for Greenbelt Funds.
March 27, 2007
South Carolina Land Use Conference, March 26
Speakers point to solutions to accelerating sprawl
But can they be implemented?
Governor Sanford called the conference. But probably as the Governor expected, Andres Duany, the well known architect and planner, dominated it. He and other speakers expressed their concern as to what was happening to South Carolina and other eastern states as they reeled under high population growth. The strong growth seemed certain to continue and unless some action were taken, the quality of life of those in the coastal areas in particular was threatened.
March 01, 2007
Greenbelt Bank Board Meeting – March 1
Some “amazing” applications for rural grants
Preservation groups introduce themselvesWarwick Jones
So far 25 applications for rural grants have been received by the Greenbelt Bank, Project Manager Cathy Ruff told the board members today. The total is likely to be higher by the March 30 deadline. “Pre-application meetings” have been scheduled with 9 other potential applicants. A board member asked as to the acreage involved in all the applications. Ms. Ruff could not answer the question but opined that some of the projects were “amazing”
December 13, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board December 12
Approves Urban Grant Application Form
Many new faces on Board next yearWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) met yesterday for the first time in about 6 months. The purpose essentially was to consider a draft of the Application Form and accompanying documents relating to Urban Grants. The draft document was prepared by staff with the guidance of the Urban Grant Review Committee, a body that consists of 6 members - 2 drawn from the GAB, 2 from the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC), and 2 from County Staff. The Committee was formed by the Council following a recommendation by the GAB contained in the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan.
December 07, 2006
Greenbelt Bank Meeting, December 7
A presentation on environmental liability
Approving the Application form for GrantsWarwick Jones
Covering today's meeting of the Greenbelt Bank (GB) board is a challenge. The first part of the meeting was a presentation on Environmental Liability by a legal expert, and was largely over our head. The remainder of the meeting was a discussion of the Application Form for rural grants. And although scrutiny and comments were appropriate and necessary, they don't make thrilling copy.
November 30, 2006
Greenbelt Bank, November 30
Begins the learning process
The newly appointed board of the County Greenbelt Bank held its second meeting today. Most of the meeting was taken up by a presentation by Mr. Chuck Flink of Greenways Inc. on the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. Greenways was the consultant retained by the County to guide the Greenbelt Advisory Board in creating the Plan. The Plan has been published and can be seen on the County's web site. Press here
November 03, 2006
Charleston County Greenbelt Bank- First meeting
Introductions and procedures
Directors of the Charleston County Greenbelt Bank (CCGB) today met for the first time. County Council appointed the directors at its last meeting. (See County Council October 12) County Council Chairman Stavrinakis welcomed the Board and commented on the high caliber of its members. He noted the importance of its task, the strong support of the County and citizens.
October 13, 2006
County Council, October 12
New jail to cost over $100 million, property taxes likely to rise
Success on the Eastside, Board of Conservation Bank chosenWarwick Jones
There wasn't as much discussion on the new jail as the waiting TV camera teams expected. A PowerPoint presentation had been prepared by staff, but it was never given. Council agreed with Council member Bostic that much of the information was already public knowledge and there was no point in re hashing it. But the handout for the presentation showed that the estimated cost of the new jail was now $101 million, more than 30% over the previous estimate of $76 million. And most likely, property taxes will need to increase to finance it.
August 18, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board August 17
What will be the impact of extending the Mark Clark Expressway?
Possibly not as much as we thoughtWarwick Jones
The Mark Clark Community Impact Assessment Report, one way or another, has been in the public domain for a few weeks. The draft, presumably the final, was sent to members of the Greenbelt and Transportation Advisory Boards late last week. They assembled yesterday, together with about 30 members of the public, to hear a presentation by the consultant who prepared the report.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 06:35 PM
June 07, 2006
County Council June 6
Still no closure on Outside Agencies
Oversight role of TAB endorsedWarwick Jones
The issue of contributions to Outside Agencies refuses to die. The Finance Committee at its meeting last Thursday agreed to defer the allocations to Outside Agencies until policy was better defined within the next few months. Last night, Council's vote was equally split as to accepting the Finance Committee's recommendation. Consequently, the recommendation to defer was not adopted. Council will meet again on Thursday to take up the issue once more. The only agreement that presently exists is that $312,000 will be distributed to Outside Agencies in fiscal 2007.
June 02, 2006
County Council, June 1
Issues with Outside Agencies and the Post & Courier
Greenbelts, bonding and the RMCWarwick Jones
Discussion of Outside Agencies dominated last night's session of the Finance Committee. Before the discussion got underway, Council member Bostic moved that a vote should be deferred for some months, and that in the meantime Council should define a policy for contributions to Outside Agencies. This it agreed to do. But there was considerable debate before the vote was taken and it spilled into wider issues such as "single member districts", and the reporting of the Post & Courier.
May 03, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board May 2
Approves final of Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan
We summarize the important featuresWarwick Jones
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) had its first meeting almost a year ago. Yesterday's felt like a final meeting, and in a sense, it was. The major purpose of the GAB was to help shape a Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan for the County. This job has been completed and the Plan will now go to the Park and Recreation Commission (PRC) and Council. The actual report was written by Greenway's Inc., the consultant retained by the County to assist the GAB and the development of the Plan.
April 12, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board April 11
Wraps up deliberations on Green Belt Plan
Urban Grant Review Committee to be formedWarwick Jones
So it's done. At yesterday's meeting, the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) jumped the last hurdle to complete the Comprehensive Green Belt Plan. The GAB wrapped up details of its recommendation on Urban Grants and finalized its comments on the draft of the Plan submitted two weeks ago. Although another draft will be submitted to the GAB for review at its next meeting, the scope for further changes will be very limited. The report has been written by the consultant Greenways Inc. and in essence summarizes the discussion and decisions of the GAB since it inception as it shapes a Greenbelt Plan for the County.
March 29, 2006
Greenbelts Advisory Board, March 28
Funding for urban greenspace still being debated
GAB needs to have more oversight?Warwick Jones, Editor
Most of us thought that the contentious issues had been dealt with at the special meeting of the previous day. A discussion of the draft Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan indicated that they weren't. Back before the Greenbelt Advisory Board, (GAB) is the issue of distributing funds to the municipalities and unincorporated areas of the County within the County- defined urban growth boundries.
March 28, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board, Special Meeting, March 27
Board sticks with 70% rural allocation
And with "per capita" allocation for urban greenbelt fundingWarwick Jones, Editor
In a sense, nothing much happened at the special meeting of the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) yesterday. But the meeting still took the best part of two hours. It had been called to discuss the adverse comment made at one of the public hearings earlier this month on the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. Some citizens sought a higher allocation of funds for urban greenspace, The meeting was also to discuss the distribution of funds to municipalities for urban greenspace on a per capita basis, agreed to at the previous meeting. The Consultant thought that the distribution on a per capita basis would not be agreeable to the County. After considerable discussion, the Board left its previous decisions unchanged.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:40 AM
March 08, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board March 7
Votes for Urban allocation on the basis of population
Suggests PRC run Urban program, and Greenbelt Bank the rural programWarwick Jones, Editor One item took up most of the discussion at yesterday's meeting of the Greenbelt Advisory Board. At that was the Greenbelt Program Implementation. The item was on the agenda for the previous meeting. Considering its importance, Greenways Inc., the consultant, was asked to prepare a wider range of options and to think beyond the existing ordinance that loosely defined the GAB's role. After all, the GAB members were being asked to vote on the GAB's future role and the means that funds would be allocated and administered.
February 22, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board February 21
Recommends a bond issue as soon as possible
To discuss Greenbelt process and GAB's future role at next meetingWarwick Jones, Editor
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) will ask County Council to consider a referendum to approve bond issues to assist funding of greenbelt projects. The interest and amortization of the bonds would be met from the proceeds of the half-cent sales tax. The decision follows presentations at the last two meetings by staff, attorneys and the consultant.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:22 PM
February 08, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board February 8
Settles on Prioritization Criteria
Considers Bond issue optionsWarwick Jones, Editor
There were two matters decided yesterday of importance. First was the prioritization criteria and point allocation for greenbelt projects. The other was to defer to the next meeting some important decision relating to the future role of the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB), bond issues secured over future sales tax flows, and the scope for municipalities to rank projects. In anticipation of lengthy debate, the starting time for the meeting on February 21 is 2pm, not 3pm as is usual.
January 25, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board January 24
Weighting of criteria for allocating fundsWarwick Jones, Editor
Yesterday's meeting of the Greenbelt Advisory Board was taken up largely with the discussion of prioritization criteria for assessing greenbelt projects. No hard decisions were made but most likely will be made at the next meeting. An important decision as to whether the GAB or municipalites assess projects in Urban areas also has to be made. This too will be discussed at the next meeting.
January 11, 2006
Greenbelt Advisory Board Meeting January 10
Board opts to emphasize rural funding
Defines "minor improvements" that it will consider
Warwick Jones, Editor
In a sense, yesterday's meeting was a win for rural as opposed to urban greenspace. But this is to suggest that there are opposing factions developing in the Greenbelt Advisory Board. The matter is really one of degree and not of absolutes. I am sure every member of the GAB wishes there were enough funding to enable all parties to acquire greenspace as needed. But there isn't, so some hard decisions have to be made about the split of funding received from the half-cent sales tax.
December 07, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board - December 6
Council member Bostic agrees to new clause in Conservation Bank ordinanceWarwick Jones
Privately, a member of the Greenbelts Advisory Board (GAB) told me that I took it all too seriously. "It was all part of the process of getting things done". He was responding to my question as to why others on the GAB were not annoyed about the recent comments and attitude of Council member Bostic. I was, and indicated it.
December 02, 2005
County Council Meeting December 1
Righting an injustice
Public hearing on proposed Conservation BankWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty
There were not many spectators left at the close of yesterday's Finance Committee Meeting. Because of an executive session, the meeting began more than an hour late and time took a toll after a lengthy discussion about the proposed Conservation Bank. But the meeting had an electrifying ending. Council Member Darby, in a passionate speech, spoke of an injustice that had been dealt the County Attorney, Mr. Joe Dawson. He also requested that Mr Dawson's rate of remuneration be set at $160 an hour. Council member Darby had only recently learned on the injustice and judging from his manner, he was clearly incensed.
November 30, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board Meeting - November 29
Drawing the line!Warwick Jones
Given the nature of the Board, there was always the potential for a split. And very possibly, it will occur at the next meeting. The issue is where the Greenbelts Advisory Board (GAB) should draw the line on usage of funds allocated to the cities in the County? Actually the GAB still has to draw lines between or around many goals and objectives. Yesterday's issue related specifically to developments such as playgrounds or swimming pools. If the Cities could draw on funds to purchase the land, why not funds to add these sorts of facilities? With three members of the GAB appointed by each of the Cities of Charleston and North Charleston, and by the Town of Mount Pleasant, it seems certain that this question would be asked. It was, but a decision was deferred until the next meeting, allowing members to contemplate their action.
November 09, 2005
Greenbelt Advisory Board November 8
Seeking a vision for the CountyWarwick Jones
One cannot minimize the role that the consultant is playing in the greenbelt process. One of its tasks is educating the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB). Some of us came to the table with little or no experience in greenbelts, or land preservation. And indeed, the learning process has some way to go, at least for one of us. But the consultant now has the task of drawing our opinions, to be used to help shape the Comprehensive Green Plan. I don't think that we are making it easy for him, but that does not stem from any ill intent on the part of Board members. In the view of this writer the problem is largely a mixture of uncertainly, and difference of opinions amongst board members. But whatever, the GAB has to start coming to conclusions. And the next meeting may see some.
October 28, 2005
County Council October 27
Committee approves formation of Conservation Bank
Mitigation efforts proposed for Mark Clark and Port RoadWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
The Finance Committee approved the formation of the Conservation Bank proposed by Council member Bostic. However, the Committee voted to hold back funding for the bank until the Comprehensive Green Belt Plan was completed. The approval, despite the caveat of funding, was a slap in the face of the recently formed Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB). The GAB had asked Council to defer the issue because of a number of reasons. Essentially, its stated that a decision on its formation was premature. It should wait for the Greenbelt Plan and until the mechanism for the choice of greenbelt acquisitions and the disposal of sales tax funds had been worked out.
October 26, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board Meeting - October 25
Preparing for the hard decisionsWarwick Jones, Editor
Somebody should have warned us. Serve on the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) and you will have no friends. Hopefully an exaggeration, but patently possible. Consider the results of the public hearing on greenspace and the spectrum of desires expressed by the public. Consider also what the public did not want. Now consider the views of some of the cities of the County which look more to active parks rather than passive greenspace, a view generally contrary to that coming from the public hearings. Now consider the $221 million funding for greenbelts, a sum that is sizable for most of us but in the context of present and probably future land prices, not large, especially as its receipt will be spread over 25 years.
October 05, 2005
Greenbelt Advisory Board October 4
A polite "thumbs down" on Conservation Bank
Observations on public hearings, and Good news for bikersWarwick Jones, Editor
The Greenbelt Advisory Board will ask the County to defer a decision on the proposed Conservation Bank proposed by Council member Bostic until the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan has been tabled. This could be more than 6 months away. As well, the Chairman of the GAB will send a letter to the County Council detailing the Board's concerns.
Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:17 PM
September 26, 2005
A Conservation Bank for Charleston County?
Some serious issuesWarwick Jones, Editor
Within the next few weeks, County Council will consider the creation of a Conservation Bank to serve Charleston County. While the name and its implied purpose may resonate pleasingly with citizens, it should be rejected by Council, at least in its present form. Its creation will fly in the face of the oversight that voters were led to believe would be put in place for spending of the half-cent sales-tax proceeds. The entity that will be considered is not a bank. It will simply be another non-profit group but with a board that arguably could be controlled by the County Council, and with easy access to the sales-tax proceeds. There may well be good reason to form a conservation group to focus on Charleston County, but it should not have some of the offending powers proposed for the new Conservation Bank
September 20, 2005
Greenbelt Advisory Board September 20.
PRC's $36 million bond issue approved
GAB to exercise no oversight on spendingWarwick Jones, Editor
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) voted today to approve an Ordinance that would allow the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) to move ahead with it $36 million bond issue. The Ordinance would allow a number of other things as well. It was the other things that caused this member of GAB to cast the only dissenting vote for the measure.
August 26, 2005
Greenbelt Advisory Board August 25
Preparing for the public meetings
PRC may receive first fundsWarwick Jones, Editor
Yesterday's meeting focused largely on issues relating to the pubic meetings scheduled for September. The Board refined further its definition of "greenbelts" and began working on the wording of questions that the Consultant, Greenways Inc., planned to ask those attending the meetings.
August 11, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board Meeting, August 9
The economic benefits of greenspace
Consultant makes an impressive caseWarwick Jones, Editor
We suspect that every member of the Greeenbelt Advisory Board was impressed. Probably no member needed assurance of the benefits that flow from greenspace. But the presentation by the newly hired consultant, Greenways Inc, highlighting the economic benefits derived by a community from the acquisition and creation of greenspace, must have expelled any doubts.
July 21, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board Meeting July 19
Getting closerWarwick Jones, Editor
Action on "greenbelt" acquisitions or easements may still be some time away, but what is to be defined as suitable for financing by the half-cent sales tax is moving closer. Center stage of this week's meeting was the newly hired consultant Greenways Inc. Mr. Charles Flink, a principal of the firm spoke of the many terms used in describing greenspace. More importantly, he asked members of the Greenbelts Advisory Board (GAB) to broadly describe their hopes and expectations in their capacity of board members. These thoughts will be melded by the consultant into some coherent form for discussion at the next meeting. Sometime thereafter, though not necessarily immediately, the public will be engaged, preparatory to the final definition of "greenbelts" and the direction of spending.
July 06, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board Meeting July 5
First meeting with consultant Extensive public input to be sought for Greenbelt planWarwick Jones, Editor
The Greenbelts Advisory Board (GAB) had its first formal meeting with the consultant retained by the County to formulate the Comprehensive Greenbelts Plan. Mr. Charles Flink, a principal of the consultant, Greenways Inc., made a presentation that was essentially an introduction to the firm, its history and some of the concepts it devised. In broad terms, he spoke of his approach to the plan for Charleston County.
June 17, 2005
County Council Meeting June 16
Heated meeting on procurement and hiring policy of the County
Simmering issue with Town of Mount PleasantWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
It started with the discussion of a $3.6 million contact for road resurfacing. It ended with a call for executive session to discuss the County's policies on hiring and procurement. In between there were a series of very heated exchanges between Council members on the tardiness of the administration in formulating a policy and the lack of communication between Staff and members of the Council.
June 16, 2005
Greenbelts Advisory Board June 15
Finance Committee asked to defer decision on Conservation Bank
Public beginning to present viewsWarwick Jones, Editor
The Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) had its third meeting yesterday and clearly is still feeling its way. On the agenda was a presentation by Council Chairman Stavrinakis on the role of the GAB, a presentation by the Department of Natural Resources, consideration of the role of the Greenbelt Consultant, and consideration of the Conservation Bank proposed by Council member Bostic.
June 02, 2005
Greenbelt Advisory Board - June 1 meeting
Board searches to define "Greenbelt"
Seeks to discuss its role and that of the proposed Conservation BankWarwick Jones, Editor
As a member of the public said, there was not much action at yesterday's meeting. Most of the time was taken up with presentations by conservation groups and the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC). In varying degree, they described their activities and gave their views as to how the sales tax fund should be dispersed in relation to "greenbelts". But in deference to the member of the public, too much action should not be expected at this early stage. The Board is feeling its way and there are many voids to be filled in defining its role. And the biggest void may well be the definition of "greenbelt". It was to help the GAB define the word that the conservation groups were invited to make presentations. There will be more presentations at the next meeting scheduled for June 15, at 3pm at County Council Offices in North Charleston.
May 18, 2005
County Council Meeting May 17
What a difference a few days make
CARTA to receive an extra $1 million. Conservation Bank to go back to Finance Committee for considerationWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
As is usual, much of the agenda on last night's meeting received rubber stamp approval. After all, most of it had been considered and approved by the Finance Committee. What was surprising was the decision to raise the allocation of sales tax proceeds for Fiscal 2006 to CARTA. The Finance Committee at its meeting last week stated that it would keep the allocation to 18% of the sales tax proceeds, a ratio that it fixed in the 2002 referendum paper. Committee members last week expressed fear that many voters would be incensed if CARTA were to receive more than this allocation particularly as the inclusion of CARTA as a recipient of sales tax funds was contentious.
April 29, 2005
County Council Meeting April 28
Could the new sales tax restrain property tax increases
Plan for Conservation Bank to be sent to G AB for considerationWarwick Jones, standing in for Shawn Keller who is on military duty in Iraq
It really wasn't on the Finance Committee agenda but it came up in discussion on the Fiscal year 2006 budget. Council member Scott suggested that consideration be given to shifting funding on some public works to the soon-to-be-collected half cent sales tax. He suggested that perhaps $4 million could be shifted but subsequent discussion suggested that even more might be possible. Property taxes amount to about $55 million for the County so the notional reduction on shifting $4 million would be about 8%.