Sea Pines officials say they might be close to a short-term solution to unclog Harbour Town Yacht Basin, but disposal of dredging spoil and financing remain long-term obstacles.
About 250 Sea Pines homeowners gathered Friday at the Sea Pines Country Club to hear Cary Kelley, executive vice president of Community Service Associates, speak about dredging. CSA maintains the private, gated-community's common property.
Kelley called the meeting following persistent questions from plantation residents opposed to a push by some for legislation that would create a special tax district to pay for dredging.
Kelley told the crowd the nearby Calibogue Cay property owners association board voted this week to support a one-time use of their upland disposal site.
"We are in a two-phase process. Phase one is to get dredging done at Harbour Town under the current permit," Kelley said. "The only possible way to do that economically and operationally is through the use of the Calibogue Cay site."
Harbour Town property owners would pay to expand the capacity of the site, which is currently filled with spoils from dredging done last year of that area, he said.
"Once the material dries ... it will allow for one, maybe two more dredges by the Calibogue Cay folks before they have to remove material to use the site again," Kelley said. "In my view, it's a win-win."
He said letters are being sent to property owners there, who would have to sign off on use of the site.
Sea Pines Resort and boat slip owners would pay for the dredging, Kelley said.
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.
Private groups have paid for dredging in the past, but say costs have increased to the point they are unaffordable.
Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, who attended the meeting, reiterated legislation to create the proposed tax district is not moving forward.
Davis and Kelley said the proposal was one option to pay for dredging.
Others could also be pursued, including a special assessment of Sea Pines property owners, both men said.
"There is a set of covenants that call for a $25-a-year contribution that would be paid by those folks that live along the waterways but have never been collected," Kelley said. "Twenty-five dollars a year isn't going to make it. We could try to amend the covenant to get a contribution that is sufficient to cover current dredging costs."
He also said accommodations taxes collected by the Town of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County could be used and gate fees increased.
"We are trying to find a way to fund dredging long-term, where it's not voluntary, where the money is there when it's needed and it's collectible," Kelley said.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.
- Sen. Davis: Sea Pines dredging bill dead in the water: July 19, 2011
- Sea Pines boards might reconsider dredging resolution: July 12, 2011
- Sea Pines official: Homeowners 'will not pay a penny' to dredge Harbour Town: July 11, 2011
- Sea Pines residents alarmed by community dredging resolution: July 8, 2011
- Bill would let town create tax district for Sea Pines to pay for dredging: April 22, 2011
- Sea Pines dredging issue reaches 'critical stage': Feb. 19, 2011