A group opposed to a controversial plan that included transforming The Inn & Club at Harbour Town into a five-star resort is backing five candidates for two Sea Pines boards that govern the community.
Alliance for Sea Pines Future, a community organization formed in July, openly opposed the proposed Sea Pines Resort referendum, which, if approved, would have allowed the resort to add 90 rooms to the 60-room Inn & Club, and invest between $70 million and $100 million in the Harbour Town area. The alliance aims to “promote and defend the quality of life and economic interests of residential property owners,” according to its mission statement posted on its website.
The referendum, which was scheduled to be voted on this fall, was postponed in August for six to nine months. Greg Morris, the alliance’s founder, said Tuesday that candidates running for the two governing boards are not necessarily against an amended plan if it includes a better deal for residents.
“The short answer is (the Alliance candidates) all prioritize residents and property owners, and they believe it’s their responsibility to represent property owners first and foremost,” he said. “New leadership is required.”
There are three spots open for the 17-member Community Services Associates board, which oversees administration, security and maintenance in Sea Pines. There are also three open seats on the nine-member Association of Sea Pines Plantation Property Owners board, a voluntary organization that represents property owners, according to Amanda Sutcliffe-Jones, director of communications for CSA.
The alliance-backed candidates for each board all opposed the proposed referendum, and most contend that the property owners need more control over their governance.
The backed candidates are “the most qualified, well-informed and resident-focused team of candidates in the history of Sea Pines board elections,” and “none of the candidates have any commercial ties or loyalties,” according to an alliance release issued Tuesday.
Morris said the alliance believes there must be separation of the CSA and ASPPPO boards, which is why, he added, the group is not backing a candidate who would sit on both boards.
“You can’t sit on both boards and not have a conflict of interest,” he said.
The alliance candidates for ASPPPO include Daniel Westerbeck, a current ASPPPO board member; Dana Advocaat, a vocal critic of the resort and who co-administers a website called Voices of Sea Pines; and Christopher Cliffe, who publicly opposed the proposed referendum. Alliance-backed CSA candidates include Sharon Lowe and Kerry de Vallette.
Ballots for each board election will be mailed out on Nov. 1, and voting will close on Dec. 1, Sutcliffe-Jones said. Those elected will serve a term of three years, beginning Jan. 1, 2018, and ending Dec. 31, 2020.
CSA and ASPPO are hosting a meet-the-candidates forum on Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Sea Pines Community Center, according to a Sea Pines notice. Candidates will have three minutes to introduce themselves and six minutes to speak on a topic of their choice, the notice said.
ASPPPO and CSA Candidates:
Dana Advocaat, ASPPPO, candidate by nominating committee
Christopher Cliffe, ASPPPO, candidate by petition
Thomas McPhillips, ASPPPO, candidate by nominating committee
Daniel Westerbeck, ASPPPO, incumbent by nominating committee
William Johnson, ASPPPO and CSA, candidate by nominating committee
Mark Piegza, ASPPPO and CSA, candidate by nominating committee
James Richardson, ASPPPO and CSA, incumbent by nominating committee
Richard Speer, ASPPPO and CSA, incumbent by nominating committee
Stu Rodman, CSA, candidate by petition
Sharon Lowe, CSA, candidate by petition
Kerry de Vallette, CSA, candidate by petition