Letters to the Editor

Plan to pay for dredging lets few decide for many

Your Sunday editorial endorsing the amendment of state law to permit the creation of a municipal improvement district within Sea Pines to pay for dredging there requires clarification and context.

The Sea Pines covenants require 75 percent of the approximately 5,000 property owners (resident and nonresident) to approve an assessment for dredging. This is a far higher hurdle than a 50 percent-plus-one vote from residents in a local referendum. Since 68 percent of Sea Pines properties are owned by nonresidents (paying the 6 percent property tax rate), any effort to use the local electoral process excludes nonresident property owners from voting even though they will provide the bulk of the funding. Thus, mathematically it is possible for a few hundred resident voters to approve the tax for the entire community.

The Sea Pines Resort owns property in Harbour Town and its lighthouse trademark is jeopardized by a silted harbor. But the dredging responsibility rests with the boatslip owners, who cannot or will not fund dredging the marina.

Community Services Associates is essentially a taxing district for the maintenance of the roads, trails and common areas within Sea Pines. It is not a property owners association as traditionally structured. The Association of Sea Pines Plantation Property Owners is the sole representative of the residential property owners within Sea Pines, and by covenant, it is responsible for enforcing those same covenants.

Although I am not one of them, some Sea Pines residents oppose any use of community funds to dredge the private harbor, regardless of structure.

Dan Westerbeck

Hilton Head Island

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