Island open-burn ban wins initial approval

bheffernan@islandpacket.comAugust 6, 2013 

In this file photo, Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division Chief Lavarn Lucas discusses several recommendations from the department's 2013 strategic plan with Town of Hilton Head Island Public Safety Committee members (from left) John McCann, Marc Grant and Bill Harkins.


  • Economic development corporation board members named

    Hilton Head Island Town Council on Tuesday appointed seven members to the board of directors for a town-formed economic development corporation. The nonprofit would focus on attracting businesses and spurring development.

    The board members are:

  • Maryann Bastnagel of Hilton Head was appointed to a three-year term. She has experience as a business executive, technology professional and entrepreneur.

  • Steve Carb of Jenkins Island was appointed to a two-year term. He has experience in business development in the marketing, real estate and hospitality industries.

  • Carlton Dallas of Hilton Head was appointed to a three-year term. He has experience in international business.

  • Diana McKenzie of Hilton Head, was appointed to a two-year term. She has a background in technology law.

  • John Joseph of Hilton Head was appointed to a one-year term. He has experience in marketing, human resources and in business strategy, planning, operations and finance.

  • Tom Upshaw of Bluffton was appointed to a one-year term. He is president and CEO of Palmetto Electric Cooperative.

  • Raymond Wenig of Jenkins Island was appointed to a one-year term. He has experience in economic development, entreprenuership and knowledge-based startups.

An ordinance banning the open burning of lawn debris on Hilton Head Island won initial approval from Town Council on Tuesday night.

The measure, which still needs a second vote to become law, passed unanimously with council members Lee Edwards and Kim Likins absent. The final vote on the ordinance could be taken at council's next meeting Sept. 3, said town manager Steve Riley.

While the ban has won widespread support among council members, some expressed concern it leaves some residents without a way to dispose of their debris.

As a result, council is considering providing debris pick up for those who can't haul it away or afford to pay someone to do so. Details of that proposal have yet to be worked out.

"My thought is that this should be a service of the town -- not something that an individual would have to pay 30, 40 or 50 bucks to have done," Councilman George Williams said.

Riley said after the meeting town staff would need to determine how much the service would cost residents and the town and who would be allowed to use it, among other details.

"There's going to be a lot of moving parts," he said.

Mayor Drew Laughlin said such a program could help improve compliance with the ban, which he acknowledged "could put a hardship on at least some folks."

Thomas Barnwell Jr., a native-island leader who attended the meeting, said he was "extremely excited" about the possibility of the service, "especially for those persons with less financial means."

Councilman Marc Grant, who represents the north-island neighborhoods where open burning is most prevalent, said the town should wait to enforce the ban until it can provide residents with an alternative.

However, Riley said he doubted staff could have a "hashed-out, ready-to-go" plan in time for council's September meeting.

Supporters of the ban, including Lavarn Lucas, chief of the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division, has said open burning poses a wildfire and health risk.

Grant, who chairs the town's Public Safety Committee, previously opposed the ban, but said during council's July 2 meeting that discussions with Lucas had changed his mind.

The first reading of a similar ordinance failed 3-2 on July 2 because council members objected to parts that would have required residents to register outdoor fire pits and free-standing chimneys with the Fire & Rescue Division. Those provisions were removed from the proposal considered Tuesday.

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at

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