Sea Pines officials are standing by their plan for a new fee for bikes brought through the community's gates by bike-rental companies.
Stanton Allaben, owner of Palmetto Bikes on Palmetto Bay Road, said Sea Pines Community Service Association vice president Cary Kelley and Sea Pines head of security Toby McSwain met with representatives of several bike-rental companies Monday to let them know the approved $1-per-bike fee would stand. Allaben said each company would be billed monthly by CSA.
"They have not changed their position one bit," he said.
Sea Pines officials said last month that bike companies that operate inside the gates would not be subject to the new fees. Allaben said Kelley was "evasive" when asked Monday whether that was the case.
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"He told me the companies inside were already paying some fees," Allaben said. "They are not making a fair deal. They aren't charging the companies inside. We're the ones left picking up the cost."
Kelley would not comment Monday afternoon.
Cary Corbitt, a CSA board member and vice president of sports and operations for Sea Pines Resort, said last month the fee was for maintenance on the bike trails inside Sea Pines, not to protect companies inside the plantation's gates -- such as Sea Pines Resort, which rents bikes -- from outside competition.
Allaben said the new fee would be paid by customers, with a description on the company's receipts explaining the increase.
"We're passing the fee on to the customers, but we want them to know what it is all about," he said. "Most of the companies will pass the fee to customers, likely through a new fee or a rate increase."
In a news release Monday, CSA said the fee would take effect Jan. 1, and the proceeds will be used to pay for path maintenance and safety.
CSA's board of directors voted unanimously in October to charge the $1 fee on bikes delivered to places in Sea Pines. Board president Bob Mang said last month the fee was approved to address bike safety, congestion, liability and path maintenance. Mang said more than 30,000 bikes were delivered inside Sea Pines from outside companies in 2012.
A program to monitor bike traffic inside Sea Pines costs more than $160,000 a year to operate, the release said, with Sea Pines property owners footing 98 percent of the bill.
The new fee will begin less than a year after CSA abandoned a plan to impose a flat fee on the rental companies bringing bikes into Sea Pines. CSA's proposal called for a $1,500 fee for companies bringing one or two trucks loaded with bikes into Sea Pines, or $2,500 for companies with three or more trucks.
CSA voted down that proposal, but the board raised the annual charge for entry permits, which bike-rental companies' trucks must have to get into Sea Pines, from $175 to $200 per year.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.