In terms of ordinances, the new year won’t be much different than the previous one for Isle of Palms City Council.
Beginning with its first meeting in January 2024, council will be tasked to not only discuss directives on unresolved issues, but also to consider all new measures with respect to the island’s long-term future.
Leading the way will be the longstanding issue of short-term rental licenses, which first appeared in 2001, and most recently finished a long battle when 54.5 percent of the island’s eligible voters said no in a November referendum to an island-wide STRL cap.
But the issue still must be settled by council action, most likely in the form of a new ordinance.
Councilman Blair Hahn said all council members will have to set aside differing opinions on this issue to devise a workable solution.
“I would like to start the process of crafting a short-term rental ordinance that does what the vast majority of the island says they want: protect residential neighborhoods,” Hahn said shortly after the referendum vote.
But along with STRLs is a pending noise ordinance, which has been gathering steam since spring 2023.
Because Isle of Palms is growing in demand for property and day visitors, individuals and groups, such as Wild Dunes Resort, have been pressing for regulations to keep noise at a minimum.
“The current IOP noise ordinance is very outdated and not relevant to the ever-changing demographics of the city,” said Terri Haack, designated representative of Wild Dunes, LLC. “The ordinance must be written with objective measurements and must be fair to all residents and business owners…and must be in place before spring break and the summer season.”
The problem, however, is determining how much noise is bothersome.
“There’s a lot of controversy on council about the best thing to do,” Hahn said. “We’re working on setting decibel levels, but no one knows what the acceptable decibel level is. So the council is going to have to pick a level and see how it works.”
Hopefully, lessons learned from the past year can be applied to 2024 as a guiding force, such as from these nine ordinances, passed during 2023 to:
- Clarify that statements of candidacy for mayor and council members can be filed at city hall.
- Authorize entering into an intergovernmental agreement related to the South Carolina Local Revenue Services, to participate in local revenue service programs, to execute participant program supplements and other matters.
- Clarify position of city attorney and to include provisions for the appointment of city prosecutor.
- Adopt a budget for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2024.
- Increase the short-term rental business license base fee by $100.
- Include regulations for large gatherings on public property, including the beach and beach access paths.
- Increase the number of resident parking permits issued to part-time resident owners from two to four.
- Regulate e-bikes and battery-assisted motorized skateboards on the beach.
- Provide regulations for dogs biting, chasing or attacking.
By L. C. Leach III