Mayor calls for ban on texting while driving, open burning on Hilton Head

bheffernan@islandpacket.comMay 7, 2013 

01/08/09- Jonathan Dyer/The Beaufort Gazette


  • In other action, Hilton Head Island Town Council on Tuesday:

  • Unanimously approved a $9-million general obligation bond. The money will pay for a $5-million purchase of 102 acres of the Planter's Row Golf Course in Port Royal Plantation. The bond also covers costs of completed sewer upgrades and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and SHARE Center building near Shelter Cove. Taxes will not increase as a result, officials said. The town has made no decision on how it would use the Planter's Row land.

  • Began examining the town's budget for fiscal year 2014 and the effects of the ongoing property reassessment in Beaufort County. The budget was passed unanimously Tuesday, but in title only. It will be discussed at length during three workshops this month. The first will be Tuesday . Council will have an opportunity to vote on a revised first reading of the budget on June 11.

  • Requested that an agreement with Beaufort County to videotape and broadcast town meetings be brought to council for a vote. It could cost the town $37,500 the first year and $22,500 a year thereafter.

  • Gave unanimous support to bringing an Ironman triathlon to the island in the fall of 2014, an effort headed by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

Discussions at Tuesday's Hilton Head Island Town Council meeting about banning texting while driving were as brief and direct as the form of communication they addressed.

Mayor Drew Laughlin called for an ordinance banning the practice to be drafted and sent to the Town's Public Safety Committee.

No vote was taken on the issue and no lengthy debates held about whether a law banning such texting would be enforceable or whether the town should wait for the General Assembly to pass a statewide ban.

"It certainly was not my intention to cut a discussion short," said Laughlin after the meeting, adding that he felt most council members are in agreement that texting while driving is dangerous.

Laughlin called for the draft after councilman Marc Grant presented a brief report on the committee's earlier discussions of the issue.

The draft measure could allow the committee and council to have a deeper discussion on the issue, according to Laughlin.

Town staff likely would be able to produce the draft in time for the safety committee's next meeting on June 3, according assistant town manager Greg DeLoach.

The committee, made up of council members, voted unanimously on Monday to bring the texting issue to council for discussion.

Laughlin also requested that town staff and the Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division draft an ordinance banning open burning of yard waste.

"It seemed to me that the majority of the members want to go that way," he said after the meeting.

Laughlin is concerned paying for yard waste removal could be beyond the means of some residents, but said he would likely support such an ordinance despite the fact it likely wouldn't be popular in Ward 1, where he lives.

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