Sea Pines boards might consider rescinding dredging resolution

July 12, 2011 

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Representatives of the two boards representing Sea Pines property owners said Tuesday they'll consider a request to withdraw a joint resolution requesting a special tax district to pay for dredging of the community's waterways.

Some Sea Pines residents said during a forum Monday that plans for the tax district seemed to be progressing without their input. Several also said they oppose paying a special assessment for dredging Sea Pines waterways, arguing it would benefit tourists and businesses most, while Sea Pines homeowners would bear the brunt of the cost.

Mike Hellman, president of the Sea Pines property owners association, said he would present the residents' concerns -- and their request to withdraw the resolution -- to his board.

John McLauchlin, board president of Community Services Associates, said he also would discuss the request with CSA members. CSA maintains Sea Pines' common property.

Whether the boards would vote to rescind the joint resolution is unclear.

"The meeting yesterday was a very small portion of our membership," McLauchlin said in a phone interview Tuesday. "We have to determine how broadly the feeling is we should do that. We need to do more homework."

Hellman and other members of the CSA and property owners association boards, reached by phone Tuesday, would not commit to rescinding their resolution.

"The loudest voices" were against creating the special tax district, CSA executive vice president Cary Kelly said, but other members "would like the option to have a vote on creating the (tax district) and saw no problem with the resolution."

McLauchlin said the resolution is a draft and was meant as a starting point for discussion with town and county officials. The boards want to gauge the extent to which the local governments would be willing to coordinate a long-term plan for dredging in Sea Pines.

Several waterways in Sea Pines are clogged with silt, making it difficult for boats to get in or out at low tide. The problem has been discussed for years, with little progress toward a solution.

Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, sponsored a bill allowing tax money to be spent on dredging marinas. The bill passed the House of Representatives in April but stalled in a Senate committee. It's expected to be taken up again in January, when the legislature reconvenes.

Patrick compared dredging of the private waterways to beach renourishment. He said there is a need for a similar tool to "properly maintain these immensely valuable, well-performing assets."

"Each dredging event seems to be a one-off affair," he wrote in an op-ed piece submitted to The Island Packet. "... There is also the factor that we are dealing with privately held infrastructure that nonetheless has huge benefit to the residential public, as well as to our millions of visitors. Plainly, this necessity must be addressed in a sustainable and cost effective manner."

He said he hopes to amend the bill to require a binding referendum of all affected taxpayers before such a district could be implemented.

"That conversation will be ongoing for some time, with everyone given a proper chance to weigh in," he wrote.

Follow staff writer Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

Related content

  1. Sea Pines official: Homeowners 'will not pay a penny' to dredge Harbour Town: July 11, 2011
  2. Sea Pines residents alarmed by community dredging resolution: July 8, 2011
  3. Bill would let town create tax district for Sea Pines to pay for dredging: April 22, 2011
  4. Town Council approves $25K dredging study for Sea Pines: March 15, 2011

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