News from Mayor Jane
Town of Edisto Beach
No matter how long I have lived on Edisto and love the Town and the residents, I am still amazed by the rumors that end up like the final step in the game of gossip. Currently I am hearing of misinformation about seizure of property on the beach front, a new town hall and access to the beach. So I would like to address each one of these areas.
The Town is going to seize your property! At this time the Town only has plans to spot nourish the northern first few blocks of the beach that has severely eroded. Sand will be trucked in and placed on the beach. We do not have a signed agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers as we are appealing and trying to reach an agreement on the terms. We have successfully achieved a modification of the length of the agreement and the language pertaining to public easement so that it is restricted to only for maintenance and repair of the dunes. Unless we can reach agreement on the terms of the local match which increased in 2018. The Town feels that we should be grandfathered under the old terms because the delays were due to the Army Corps of Engineers. Also as part of the previous nourishment the groin repair was included in the project. This repair followed the Army Corps of Engineers plan so we feel that we should receive work-in-kind credit for the repair which would offset the matching funds. Quite frankly we do not have over $7.5 million dollars to match their funds having patched together the funds for an $18 million dollar project after Hurricane Matthew. We are not asking for easements at this time due to the lack of an agreement which at this point seems a long shot. The long term picture is scary since if we do not maintain the beach everyone in the town loses property value, rental income and the service industry. Without a beach we are just any small town USA without industry since people come here for the proximity to the ocean.
The Town will restrict your access from your home to the beach and you will only be able to get to the beach on a beach access! I traveled to North Charleston to the DHEC/OCRM headquarters and spent many hours and days advocating for our beach owners by participating in the drafting of the State Beach Management Plan. I was successful in permitting emergency access and homeowner access. However as a beach front home owner you should value the dune as it is your line of defense for your property in the event of a storm. At some point you may want to consider a beach mat over your dune to prevent excessive erosion and degradation of the dune due to the foot traffic. Mats are much less expensive to purchase and maintain should you ever consider a walkover to the beach.
The Town is going to build a new town hall! The Town has the opportunity to design a project for the next SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Optional Sales Tax) or the 1% tax. We were fortunate to get funds of $4 million dollars through the tax referendum for the last nourishment. It has now been indicated that this is a recurring expense and that one time infrastructure or brick/mortar projects would only be considered. To apply for the next county referendum we must have a plan and project cost since requests must be specific and dedicated. We have spent $35,000 to meet these stipulations so that we can complete a project application. These are the only funds that we will expend from the town budget. If we are not successful in receiving funds through the renewal referendum, a town hall will not be built. This is a long range project and the current elected officials will not benefit from improved working conditions. Our current town hall is lacking in technology infrastructure, work/storage space and a secure Emergency Operations center. Necessary town records are currently stored in the small cable building, the employee break room is the copy/storage room. We have a fire department that has been modified just to satisfy new requirements with bunkrooms/restrooms for female and male firefighters and bays that are too small for the equipment. A police department that lacks a secure holding area separate from the staff and no private work area. Renovation of the present town hall and buildings is not possible because the building needs to be brought up to code and would exceed the 50% limit of the appraised value threshold for renovation.
In other news:
Susan Hornsby resigned her seat on Town Council due to family health issues. She will be missed with her always thoughtful assessment of each issue. Susan professed to be an old hippie and was a joy with whom to work. She is now residing in Bluffton.
Margaret Green is planning to retire this month. Margaret has served the Planning and Zoning Department and her expertise will be missed.
A SPECIAL ELECTION WILL BE HELD ON AT TOWN HALL ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2020 TO FILL THE VACANCY ON TOWN COUNCIL. PLEASE VOTE EITHER IN PERSON OR BY ABSENTEE BALLOT. ABSENTEE BALLOTS MUST BE SENT TO THE ELECTIONS OFFICE IN WALTERBORO. THEY CANNOT BE TURNED IN AT EDISTO BEACH.
FINALLY, I WANT TO WISH YOU A HAPPY SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON. WE HAVE COME SO FAR WITHOUT LOSING A SINGLE ONE OF OUR CHERISHED RESIDENTS EVEN THOUGH WE ARE ALL SUFFERING FROM VIRUS FATIGUE. WE ARE SO CLOSE TO GETTING A VACCINE AND THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO LET YOUR GUARD DOWN. WEAR YOUR MASK, ISOLATE AT HOME IF YOU ARE ILL, GET YOUR FLU SHOT, AVOID OR PLANNING LARGE GROUPS/PARTIES, WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY AND KEEP YOUR SOCIAL DISTANCE SO THAT WE CAN ALL BE TOGETHER FOR THE NEXT HOLIDAY SEASON.