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Latest News in Sullivan's Island
Sullivan’s Island votes to hire law firm, conduct legal review of Maritime Forest settlement
SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – The Town of Sullivan’s Island is seeking another legal opinion on the town’s Maritime Forest settlement that would allow more cutting operations of the forest. The settlement was part of a more than a decade-long legal battle.Town leaders are looking for a second opinion of the settlement approved by the last town council. The group is challenging the legality and obligations required of the town. Some are optimistic it means the forest can be saved while others say it’s t...
SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – The Town of Sullivan’s Island is seeking another legal opinion on the town’s Maritime Forest settlement that would allow more cutting operations of the forest. The settlement was part of a more than a decade-long legal battle.
Town leaders are looking for a second opinion of the settlement approved by the last town council. The group is challenging the legality and obligations required of the town. Some are optimistic it means the forest can be saved while others say it’s time to move forward.
The debate between a special town council meeting Tuesday morning became heated at times.
“Exercising every effort we can to be transparent,” says Town Councilman Scott Millimet.
“It’s just, it’s ludicrous,” says Kay Smith, Sullivan’s Island Town Councilwoman. “I think it’s a shameful way to use our town’s resources.”
The decision to hire legal counsel came down to a controversial vote before hiring Greenville-based William Wilkins and Nexsen Pruet Law Firm to conduct a second opinion of the settlement.
“It’s a good next step in the process of trying to undo the mediation settlement,” says Karen Byko, a Sullivan’s Island resident and President of Sullivan’s Island For All.
“This settlement was really crafted behind closed doors,” says Susan Middaugh, a Sullivan’s Island resident who raised concerns over the way the settlement was approved following the special council meeting.
The law firm will examine the legality, and the town’s required obligations laid out in the settlement. Those opposed to the settlement say it prevents future management of the town’s natural forest.
“The problem with the settlement and why we really need an external review is that it has language in it that binds future town councils,” says Middaugh.
The settlement was reached in October of 2020 after a decade-long legal battle between the Town of Sullivan’s Island V. Bluestein.
Despite the approved settlement, some residents are still fighting for the future of the forest while other residents felt the settlement was the best outcome to be reached.
“A couple of judges, several courts, our own town attorneys and that’s still not good enough,” says Kimberly Brown, a Sullivan’s Island resident who believes the mediation was the best outcome. “I think it seems more like awaiting to find somebody who’ll say what they want to say.”
Some residents remain determined to stop the chop of the Maritime Forest while others say it’s time to put the settlement in the past.
“There comes a time when you say enough you know like we’ve met in the middle, we’ve mediated let’s abide by that,” says Brown. “Let’s honor that, let’s honor what we did.”
Wilkins and the Nexsen Pruet Law Firm are expected to take a closer look at the settlement in the coming weeks ahead of the judicial review deadline. Officials say cutting could start as early as December if approved by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Sullivan’s Island Town Council Calls Special Meeting Involving Maritime Forest
By Karen Byko for Island Eye NewsIn a major development regarding efforts to save the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest from destruction, the island’s Town Council has called a Special Meeting to act on a “Public Request for Clarification of Mediated Settlement Bluestein v. Town of Sullivan’s Island 2010-CP-10-5449.” (See Attached). The meeting is Wednesday, September 29 at 5pm...
By Karen Byko for Island Eye News
In a major development regarding efforts to save the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest from destruction, the island’s Town Council has called a Special Meeting to act on a “Public Request for Clarification of Mediated Settlement Bluestein v. Town of Sullivan’s Island 2010-CP-10-5449.” (See Attached). The meeting is Wednesday, September 29 at 5pm. This is in response to an overwhelming number of residents who went to the last Town Council meeting asking council to find out if the settlement agreement that will allow the cutting of the Maritime Forest was lawfully entered into.
In May, four members of the current council were elected in a landslide, which many considered a public response to concerns involving the controversial Mediation Settlement. The settlement, which will allow for widespread cutting of the Maritime Forest was passed last October, during the height of the pandemic with little public input or review. The Maritime Forest provides protection for all islanders from hurricanes and storm surge, while also housing a unique and expansive wildlife ecosystem.
“On September 21st, citizens from around the island and the Lowcountry showed up to voice their concerns and it appears Town Council has listened,” said Sullivan’s Island for All President Karen Byko. “We are hoping they will take steps to review this mediation settlement in the courts.”
LEGAL OPINION SHEDS LIGHT ON PATH FORWARD
Despite past warnings from those who wrote the settlement that it is ‘unchallengeable,’ there actually is a path forward and there is legal precedent to do so.
The public deserves to know:
∙ Was the settlement agreement lawfully entered into?
∙ Does the settlement unlawfully bind future Town Council’s legislative and governmental powers?
∙ Is there a legal path forward for Town Council?
To get these answers, Land-Use and Environmental Lawyer Ross Appel researched the issue and provided a thoroughly documented legal opinion to Sullivan’s Island for All that Town Council has two clear legal mechanisms available to challenge the settlement and the court order approving the settlement.
1. The Declaratory Judgement Act: This Act expressly exists for parties to an agreement to be able to determine their rights and responsibilities without first having to default under a contract.
2. Rule 60 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure: This rule provides several options for seeking relief from an approved court order.
Based on legal precedents, it is Mr. Appel’s opinion, that nothing in the Settlement precludes Town Council from taking either of these actions. As we are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of the original settlement, Town Council is urged to follow Mr. Appel’s opinions and act immediately to approve the hiring of outside legal counsel to advise on the filing of a Declaratory Judgement and a Rule 60 request for relief under the court order.
“We want Town Council to know that we respect their courage and resolve to see this vital issue through,” Byko said.
Bill Sharpe remembers Hurricane Hugo’s SC landfall 32 years ago
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - I knew it was gonna be bad the first night.When Weatherman Charlie Hall came back from the teletype machine with the latest on the storm, I could see it on his face. Things didn’t look good for us . I had never seen Charlie so serious, anxious and down.Hugo made a direct hit on the Lowcountry. There was devastation all around. This monster came ashore on Sullivan’s Island as a category 4 storm with winds whipping up over 130 miles an hour.I toured the island soon after it hit. It was...
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - I knew it was gonna be bad the first night.
When Weatherman Charlie Hall came back from the teletype machine with the latest on the storm, I could see it on his face. Things didn’t look good for us . I had never seen Charlie so serious, anxious and down.
Hugo made a direct hit on the Lowcountry. There was devastation all around. This monster came ashore on Sullivan’s Island as a category 4 storm with winds whipping up over 130 miles an hour.
I toured the island soon after it hit. It was strange to see empty stairs leading to nothing. Then, right next door, a house that was standing intact, barely touched by the fury of the storm.
The land and streets were flooded everywhere.
The town of McClellanville bore the full brunt of the hurricane. It tore through this quaint little fishing community east of the Cooper River. The damage here was stunning.
Everywhere I looked in the Lowcountry, trees were down, the cool shade of so many familiar pines was gone.
Just down the road from Mccllellanville, in Awendaw, we learned later, people climbed up to the top of Lincoln High standing on chairs on top of desks to get above the rising flood waters of the storm surge. They all made it, some barely.
I remember seeing boats tossed up on the street, blocking parts of Lockwood Boulevard in downtown Charleston. For days after the storm, we broadcast 12 hours a day simulcasting on both television and the radio to bring people the latest on the recovery. We spoke about things like where to get a hot meal and water, and where the traffic lights were working again, as well as which hospitals had the lights back on, and when power might be coming back for the rest of us.
I saw National Guard troops on King Street downtown, protecting the city from looting.
One of them stopped me to find out why I was breaking curfew. I told him I was working. He let me go on to the television station which had flooded on East Bay Street.
Two and a half weeks after the storm, I remember seeing an out-of-state power company in my neighborhood. I was so grateful I wanted to hug the guys restoring our electricity.
Several times, always alone, I broke down and cried. It hit me hard.
The normal rhythm of our lives was disrupted and we couldn’t get things back to normal. I had never seen anything like Hurricane Hugo.
I never want to again.
Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Big Cat Country Q&A: Do Urban Meyer’s distractions have the potential to ruin Trevor Lawrence’s development?
It’s Friday and you know what that means! It’s time to answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions!Today we’re talking about Urban Meyer’s distractions, Trevor Lawrence’s development, and more.James from Sullivan’s Island, SCQ: Do Urban Meyer’s distractions have the potential to ruin Trevor Lawrence’s development?A: This was asked over a dozen times this wee...
It’s Friday and you know what that means! It’s time to answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions!
Today we’re talking about Urban Meyer’s distractions, Trevor Lawrence’s development, and more.
James from Sullivan’s Island, SC
Q: Do Urban Meyer’s distractions have the potential to ruin Trevor Lawrence’s development?
A: This was asked over a dozen times this week, so it’s going at the top. In a word? No. I’ve seen people point to Sam Darnold’s underwhelming play with Adam Gase at the helm as reason to be worried and... if you think Trevor Lawrence and Sam Darnold are in the same stratosphere, I’d recommend getting your eyes checked.
All you have to do is see Trevor’s development over the course of the first four games. He’s not only improved, he’s drastically improved. I’d be surprised if Urban Meyer lasts through the end of the season, so as long as Trevor can continue to grow and get more comfortable in the pro game (and this doesn’t drag into 2022) then I think he’ll be fine.
Henry from Jacksonville, FL
Q: Why not Jaylon Smith? It cannot get worse than it is now.
A: We’ve been saying “it cannot get worse” for a decade now. It absolutely can. Not to say Jaylon Smith would make things worse, but I don’t think he’d make things better.
KT from Charlotte, NC
Q: So we’ve moved on from Tom Coughlin’s camp grind to Urban Meyer’s dance floor grind. Which do you prefer?
A: Jack Del Rio’s axe to grind.
Kelly from Jacksonville, FL
Q: Is it really necessary to be thinking about replacing Urban Meyer already? Will there be a negative impact on the team if he stay?
A: If the Jaguars fired Urban Meyer today, I wouldn’t definitively say it was the right decision... but I certainly wouldn’t argue it. He’s a net negative as a head coach. What exactly has Urban Meyer done to make the Jaguars better?
Diz from Frisco, TX
Q: Would you take the over or under that Derrick Henry has 100 rushing yards against us?
Ben from Chicago, IL
Q: Instead of firing Urban Meyer and allowing the Jaguars players to rally around a coach they actually respect to take on our mortal foes this week, Shad Khan isn’t doing anything. Why is he deciding to play the “wait and see” game?
A: Because we are four weeks into the season and Urban Meyer represents one of the most significant investments that Shad Khan has ever made into this team. We may want Urban Meyer gone, and Shad Khan might want Urban Meyer gone, but this isn’t Madden. You have to figure out how to do this in a way that helps the franchise save face... and a few million that Urban Meyer is contractually owed.
Jimmy from Jacksonville, FL
Q: This is our penance for not appreciating Jack Del Rio more isn’t it?
A: We must turn towards the light, Jimmy.
Art from Drexel Hill, PA
Q: The Jaguars are going to do the same thing to DJ Chark they did to Allen Robinson, aren’t they?
A: There will likely be a new head coach and general manager next January, and I suspect he’ll want to retain his best wide receiver instead of adding it to his to-do list upon arrival.
Sullivan’s Island and local billionaire’s company anticipate Sand Dunes Club sale
The Sand Dunes Club is one of the largest beachfront properties on Sullivan’s Island, and home to a swimming pool island residents used for decades, until the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.Long-owned by South Carolina Electric & Gas and used as a club for employees, and an event space for weddings and receptions, the Sand Dunes Club is now part of Dominion Energy. It’s been shut down since early 2020 due to the pandemic.Now, Beemok Capital — owned by local ...
The Sand Dunes Club is one of the largest beachfront properties on Sullivan’s Island, and home to a swimming pool island residents used for decades, until the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
Long-owned by South Carolina Electric & Gas and used as a club for employees, and an event space for weddings and receptions, the Sand Dunes Club is now part of Dominion Energy. It’s been shut down since early 2020 due to the pandemic.
Now, Beemok Capital — owned by local billionaire Ben Navarro — is interested in buying the property, and the town hopes the Sand Dunes Club will become a private club for island property owners and residents.
Navarro and his companies have purchased, among other things, the Belmond Charleston Place hotel and the Credit One Bank Stadium on Daniel Island.
The clubhouse is a historic building associated with Fort Moultrie and can’t be demolished without the town’s permission. It dates to the days when a large amount of Sullivan’s Island was dedicated to the military installation.
Hundreds of homes and properties associated with Fort Moultrie were sold by the government in 1950. One property was the former Fort Moultrie officers’ club, with dining rooms and a large ballroom, sitting on a generous front-beach lot 250 feet wide.
SCE&G bought it for $27,000 and it became the Sand Dunes Club.
“I used to swim in the pool back in the ’60s when I was a little kid,” town Administrator Andrew Benke said. “It’s always been an asset for the island residents, and particularly neighborhood kids.”
The pandemic-related closure is understandable, but the change in ownership, to Dominion Energy, prompted concern on the island about the club’s future. Dominion won’t say much about the club’s fate, but according to a town agreement, the property could potentially become a private club for Sullivan’s Island residents.
“Even before the pandemic began, we were looking at the company’s ownership and use of various properties that are not used directly in servicing customers, and that ongoing analysis will include the employee clubs,” Dominion spokesman Paul Fischer said. He said the utility has made no agreement related to the Sand Dunes Club.
But the town has.
In February, Sullivan’s Island signed an agreement with Beemok Capital.
Beemok, the agreement says, “desires to purchase the property from its current owner, renovate the clubhouse and operate the club.” The agreement also says “the town believes a club with membership limited to town residents and property owners” would be desirable, if the club were sold.
Zachary Tramonti, a spokesman for Beemok, said the company would not comment but provided a copy of the same agreement.
The “memorandum of understanding” signed by the company and the town lays out how the property could and could not be used, if it were sold.
“What is basically says — and it would be the same for anyone who purchased it — is that it can’t be used for anything more than it’s used for now,” Benke said. “You couldn’t buy it and turn it into a hotel or a restaurant.”
“They could build houses on the vacant lots,” he said.
There’s room on the property to develop several houses, in addition to the clubhouse. The large clubhouse could not be demolished, unless the town’s Design Review Board were to remove its historic designation.
“That structure is protected,” said Joe Henderson, the town’s zoning official. “It’s considered a Sullivan’s Island landmark.”
Dominion Energy won’t say if the property is for sale, and Beemok Capital declined to comment, so it’s not clear if or when the ownership of the club could change. The agreement signed by the town, however, lays out how the club could be used if there’s a new owner.
Among other provisions, such as operating hours, the agreement says that the price of membership in the club would not exceed the cost of operating the club, and the town would get to review confidential financial statements to ensure that provision.
Residents and town property owners could become members, and nonmembers could still use the pool, for a fee comparable to what municipal recreation departments charge in Mount Pleasant or on Isle of Palms, the agreements says.