Dana Beach, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League, often writes elegantly candid letters to his constituents with links to pertinent articles, such as today’s email:
Over the years the Conservation League has worked with cities and counties to plan collaboratively with an eye toward environmental protection. One of the first counties to take up the comprehensive planning mantel was Beaufort, in the mid-1990s. But the road has not always been smooth.
A major challenge came from what we called “rogue” towns that, at the behest of developers, annexed property with the explicit goal of undermining stronger county zoning codes. Examples include Awendaw’s annexation of land in the Francis Marion National Forest, Yemassee’s annexation of Binden plantation, using a strip 10 feet wide and two miles long, and Port Royal’s annexation of Rose Island across the Broad River.
Fortunately, things have changed for the better. Port Royal has been particularly responsive to the broader planning needs of the region. But just when you thought comprehensive planning was a forgone conclusion, another town has gone rogue. Embarrassingly, this time it is Hilton Head.
Last week, with virtually no public notice, the town held first reading to annex a highly erosional barrier island, Bay Point, across the mouth of the Broad River. The purpose was to allow Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas of Bangkok, (Thailand) to develop an eco-resort. (The irony of an “eco-resort” on a small, fragile barrier island has not gone unnoticed.)
As Teresea Moss with the Island Packet writes, this raises general concerns about precedent and secrecy, in addition to the particular problem of this site serving as a permanent settlement of any sort. (Look at Bay Point on Google Earth for a sense of the ephemeral nature of the island.)
On the other end of the spectrum are Isle of Palms and Folly Beach. Both towns have banned single use plastic bags (with Folly going a step further to ban Styrofoam coolers). Their leadership on this issue has clearly gone global. As the Washington Post reports, the country of France has now banned plastic plates, “cutlery” AND plastic bags.
Plastic manufacturers are lobbying the European Union to overturn the law on the grounds that it violates trade agreements. Will “Frexit” be the unintended consequence of the EU’s intervention in the French plastic debate? We will see.
I won’t belabor the following point because we all experienced it first hand, but the Washington Post reports that August was the hottest on record, and the 16th straight month of “unsurpassed heat.”
Unsurpassed heat should engender unsurpassed concern and unsurpassed action to address climate change. The Post also ran this editorial by two members of the National Academy of Sciences who, along with 373 other scientists, have signed an open letter calling on the presidential candidates to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in time to forestall catastrophic impacts. There has been, so far, an almost complete vacuum in the election coverage on this existential issue.
On the subject of politicians and media coverage, Diane Knich with the Post and Courier continues to reveal the sordid underbelly of Charleston County politics. This week, Diane reports on County Council Chairman Elliott Summey, who announced a deal last week that would force county taxpayers to pay for rail overpasses in North Charleston that the state had previously agreed to fund.
In an effort to persuade council members to vote for the deal, Elliott reportedly told them Senator Hugh Leatherman would add ANOTHER $300 million to the project. Or at least that’s what council members Schweers, Condon and Pryor heard. Elliott denies having said it. Council member Herb Sass, who attended one of the meetings, didn’t remember that detail about the $300 million until he checked his notes, after which he said, no, actually Elliott had not said it. So by a vote of 3 to 2, the verdict is…
Anyway, this is not the sort of transparency one would like in the administration of a $2.1 billion tax, as the Post and Courier editorial staff opines.
Have a great, cool week!