Surfside Beach City Council and Mayor Bob Childs voted to approve the Surfside Beach “E” District this past Tuesday. The vote was 6 for the new “E” District and 1 against. The matter is legally settled law as far as elected leaders and city government are concerned.
Surfside Beach’s Planning And Zoning Commission and residents of the town, however, have issues with this new law.
Planning Commission Votes To Approve Legal Advice On “E” District Changes
Residents showed up and spoke out at Thursday’s Planning and Zoning meeting. The commissioners spoke out against the new law as well. Commissioners and residents have concerns about the changes made in the second reading of the new law. These last minute changes to the second reading of the law, many believe, were suspicious and under-handed. The consequences created by those changes can be heard expressed by the commissioners and the residents in the video above.
Wrote Planning and Zoning Commissioner Al Lauer on Facebook:
Things Surfsidians should know: At the Surfside Beach Town Council Meeting Tuesday (Oct. 9th) the Second Reading of an ordinance outlining the provisions for the new E (Entertainment) District was passed.The first Reading had passed without objection two weeks previously.
Prior to the council vote Mayor Childs asked that the motion to adopt include a number of amendments. These amendments were not read to the public, nor were they presented in writing to those in attendance. They were simply noted as ‘Exhibit A’.
The vote was taken without discussion, and accepted 6-1 in favor of the motion with the amendments accepted. As a member of the Planning Commission, I was shocked. It didn’t make sense.
Councilman Johnson in his closing remarks indicated that he had received the amendments just prior to the start of the meeting. Certainly not enough time to review some 20+ provisions. Did everyone get the amendments at that time?
The Planning Commission, of which I am a member, had provided what we thought was a ‘Family Beach’ friendly ordinance for the Council to vote on. And because the first reading had passed without a blink, we assumed that Council agreed with our proposals. When the meeting was over, I was able to obtain the list of the amendments.
The list that Mayor Childs brought forth gutted the ordinance created by the PC. The ordinance as constructed by Mayor Childs is simply a recipe for some other type of district. It is certainly not the Entertainment district we proposed and surely not friendly to Surfside Beach’s residents.
The changes include removing all Stormwater Management and landscaping provisions from the District, creating flooding dangers. They include the removal of parking provisions, and increase outdoor entertainment hours from 10 PM till midnight and the amendments allow for outdoor bars. All things that residents had specifically told us they were opposed to.
The amendments as constructed, also allow for the construction of new residences in the E District near the pier. With parking lots available for building on, it is figured that 12 or more residences could be built in the district and all of these without requirements for parking. Surely the Council must understand that parking has always been a huge issue in Surfside Beach. This wouldn’t help it.
And more scary, with the Council needing just 4 votes to pass new legislation, it is an easy leap to see them increasing building height limits, providing developers with room to build high rise structures to maximize property values, and fatten wallets.
Looking at the amendments, and the ease with which they passed, one can follow the election money, and as a Surfside Beach resident suggested at the PC meeting last night, “the council members are either corrupt or stupid.” I would like to think the latter, but the preponderance of evidence given to me in ‘Exhibit A’ has caused me to wonder.
Comments from residents included:
In 2016, the town had 4,391 residents according to U.S. Census data. In the most recent elections, last April, a well-financed group called Surfside Strong, mailed campaign materials in support of candidates Pellegrino, Scoles, and Dietrich.
We wrote (at that time) the following about the consequences of this election. Surfside Strong blitzed local mailboxes over the 2018 Easter weekend comparing one incumbent, Tim Courtney, to Saddam Hussein. The question now for Surfside Beach residents, will those elected work for the citizens of Surfside Beach or the hidden agenda behind Surfside Strong? When the will of Surfside Strong is in direct conflict with local citizens, which side will candidates Pellegrino, Scoles, and Dietrich choose?
Flood Map Changes will cause many to potentially lose flood insurance.
“Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” – President Obama to House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, January 23, 2009.
Big money was able to win the election last Easter. Big money rarely has the interests of citizens at large in mind when they do these mass mailers to sway votes.
The matter of the “E” District could now, potentially, be headed to a court room, however.