COUNCILMAN RON BRINSON – FEBRUARY 19. 2017

HYDRANT TESTING – Coosaw Preserve – COOSAW WETLANDS – REGIONAL Art

Fire hydrant testing – The Fire Department will soon begin its annual hydrant capacities and functionality testing.   Signs will be posted in neighborhoods in advance of testing, and schedules will also be posted via social media.  Hydrant testing, infrequently, causes a discoloring of tap water. This results from the stirring of line sediments already on the water. Be assured the fire department adds nothing to the water for testing. For any resident concerned about this, the fire department will offer a product “Red-B-Gone.”  You can call 843 740-2616 for more information about this free product.  Testing will rotate throughout the city during March.

Coosaw Preserve, welcome!  – Residents of this quickly evolving neighborhood in front of the Joseph Pye Elementary School are now on the District 4 newsletter mailing list. Their immediate concern is the rush-hour school year morning traffic which causes frequent backups exiting the neighborhood.  But this is a general concern for most District 4 neighborhoods. The city now posts two policemen at the school traffic intersections and public works is studying whether a traffic signal might help.  Dorchester County officials are now conversing with Charleston County about matching improvements on Patriot Boulevard. (The county line runs just east of the school, near the Boeing interiors plant.)

COOSAW CREEK WETLANDS – Confusion about the storm-damages cleanup of these community wetlands abounds — especially after the Coosaw Creek Country Club Owners Association declined a prospective city grant to help fund the project.  As I discussed before in this newsletter, the Coosaw wetlands facilitate the drainage of several residential neighborhoods, including part of the Farm at Wescott and Indigo Palms, and several other unincorporated neighborhoods off Ashley Phosphate Road.  In a word, these properties are strategically important.  Hurricane Matthew’s winds last October blew over hundreds of massive trees. The effects slow storm water flows and create value-sapping aesthetical damages.

The Coosaw Creek CC Owners Association owns the wetlands and is singularly responsible for their condition.

Because of the broader community use of these wetlands, the city attempted to formulate a grant of assistance package for city council approval. The proposal would have provided $102,450 to help finance the project which could cost $250,000.  Most of the grant funds, if city council had approved, would have come from the last dollars in the District 4 bond monies, which have been used to pave roads and create pocket parks and buy playground equipment.

After on-site inspections by city engineers and Mayor Keith Summey, the condition of the grant was confirmed – the project would remove fallen trees from the regulatory wetlands so as to substantially reduce the effects on drainage throughout the community wetlands AND resolve the aesthetical effects on property owners who are living with up-close ugliness and mosquito-breeding static water pools on their property lines. The city also offered to phase the grant over two years to accommodate the Association’s strategic financial schedules.

After two months, The Coosaw Creek CC Owners Association declined the city’s scope of work and opted instead to embrace a “committee” conclusion that only certain parts of the wetlands would be cleared.

The city’s immediate concern was that the plan is not documented by professional engineers certified in hydrology, and nor does it address the huge problem of aesthetics.   And the city will monitor closely the Association’s apparent plan to cut up trees from arterial water courses and then stack the logs within the wetlands.

But, the city recognizes that as the owner of these community wetlands, the Coosaw Creek CC Owners Association’s board has every right to reject the city’s prospective assistance and to adjudge the drainage and aesthetics issues from their points of view.  I intend to continue to consider ways to help.

We are reminded that privately-owned storm water drainage wetlands are hugely important to the broader community’s drainage systems – and they must be maintained.  And as I have mentioned in previous newsletters, that’s a point every homeowners association should ponder.  I was especially heartened that two HOAs, recognizing their residents’ interest in the Coosa wetlands, offered to make affordable donations which might have increased the city’s grant funding support for the Coosaw project.

And we are reminded of the huge financial burdens on owners when these properties are heavily damaged.  And we are surely reminded that damage is a reality, not an abstraction to be rationalized — and the costs of restoration is never simply defined by what we wish it would cost or even what has been budgeted for such contingencies.

The city will continue to look for ways to assist with this and other drainage issues.  I welcome your comments and counsel. (And I was informed Saturday that the prospective grant funds will be maintained through the city’s March financial approval cycle.)

Other “Stormwater” Updates – As I reported in previous newsletters, the city applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a $100,000 grant to conduct an engineering review and solutions study for the Pepperhill community drainage systems and the McChune Branch runoff generally. FEMA has now offered $25,000 for the study. The City Council Finance Committee last week agreed to consider supplementing the funding of this project to assure it has an adequate scope. In the meanwhile, anyone with a factual theory about down-stream constraints on the McChune Branch runoff system should contact me. The city will investigate all such claims in consultation with federal and state agencies.

Here’s a feature story about how retention ponds can be maintained with higher function and attractiveness: http://www.postandcourier.com/features/experts-devising-ways-to-make-stormwater-ponds-more-natural-functional/article_131e2a70-f3bc-11e6-b8f8-8b45c5bf3226.html

BUILDING PERMITS ENFORCEMENT - If you’re planning work projects on your home – like a new roof or fence – you will probably need a city building permit. The city is now auditing projects in District 4. One review disclosed that 91 projects without sufficient permits had taken place last year in one owners association neighborhood.  Qualified and licensed contractors will be aware of this and state law mandates that local approvals – such as an ARB permit—is a condition of municipal building permits.  So, please  make sure your projects are legally permitted.  The process informs the city’s efforts to assure  work on homes complies with building and public safety codes. If you have a question about this, please contact me.

 

ART IS REGIONAL!  Free show and free reception…. the Summerville Artist Guild members will display their works at the North Charleston City Gallery from March 2-31, 2017. A free reception will be held at the gallery on Thursday, March 2, from 5:00-7:00pm. Many of the exhibiting artists will be there and the public is invited.

The North Charleston City Gallery is situated in two corridors of the northwest corner of the Charleston Area Convention Center, located at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Parking and admission are free.  Gallery hours are Tuesdays 12-5pm, Wednesdays 11am-5pm, Thursdays 11am-7:30pm, and Fridays 11am-5pm.  Want more information? Contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854 or check in at the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website at www.northcharleston.org.

Councilman Ron Brinson – February 6, 2017

Harris Teeter  has withdrawn its proposed zoning applications that would have led to installation of gas and fuel islands at The Corner at Wescott. This follows a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission to deny the request.  The matter was scheduled for City Council hearings Thursday, but that has been cancelled.

I believe Harris Teeter – a great corporate neighbor —  came to realize just how important Dorchester Corridor Overlay District planning values are to our community. Nonetheless, selling fuel will remain a business plan priority for the grocer, especially after having been purchased by Kroger in 2012.

I very much appreciated how the constituents of District 4 engaged on this important issue and how constructive and civil the neighborhood debates have been.

 

ENFORCEMENT OF BUILDING PERMITS REQUIREMENTS —  These  “permits” are generally required  anytime  work is planned for both commercial and residential structures. The city’s building inspector has become concerned about the rising number of unpermitted projects, especially roof replacements.  A building permit  assures the work will conform to building standards. This approach is universal in municipal government and directly relates to public safety and preservation of property values.  Enforcement can lead to fines and higher permit fees – and in some cases criminal prosecution. Homeowners associations are encouraged to pass the word to residents about this requirement and to report contractors who might be inclined to flout this important  law.  Also, be alert to scams. A good clearing question for any contractor is whether the contractor intends to apply for a building permit and whether the contractor has a valid business license registered in the City of North Charleston. More information on building permits is available at www.northcharleston.org

The Crossings at Wescott Plantation – This massive building project at the Wescott traffic circle – finally is nearing completion and should be ready for occupancy in April.  It’s an upscale 184 unit senior living community with 93 independent living, 57 assisted living and 34 “memory care “apartments located across the street from The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation — and down the road from The Corner at Wescott shopping center. (Contrary to the project’s website information, this special complex is in North Charleston, not Summerville.)  Want more information or a “briefing” contact  Alissa Crankshaw at 843 486 2712  or at ACrankshaw@thecrossingsatwescottplantation.com.   The sales office is an instant pictorial tour of what will be a well-planned and upscale complex.  It’s located on Ladson Road, between Sears K-Mart and The Oakbrook Theaters.  (That is  in Summerville.)

Please share this newsletter with your neighbors and please contact me anytime at rbrin@aol.com with your questions or counsel.

Thank You !

COUNCILMAN RON BRINSON – FEBRUARY 4, 2017

Harris TEETER GAS STATION “Plan” – This proposal will be before City Council and a public hearing Thursday, February 9, 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, third floor at City Hall. HOA leaders are encouraged to spread the word and encourage residents to attend and participate.  Ample opportunity will be provided to all who want to speak.

The Planning Commission last week voted unanimously to recommend the grocer’s “fuel island” plan be denied.  The arching concern is that such a facility would violate the Dorchester Overlay District planning standards and set a precedent that could lead to additional gas stations between Appian Way and Parlor.

City Council has the final say and next Thursday’s meeting is the first of three during February that will complete the process.

I will keep you posted.  Please contact me if you have questions or want to provide counsel.

 

The Aquatics Center – City Council has authorized $1.1 million for architectural work and site planning and has granted Mayor Summey authority to finalize a formal interagency agreement with District 2 School District. This project should be moving into noticeable site planning and clearing by mid-summer. The $20 million facility will feature Olympic-sized competitive swimming pools that can be divided for more conventional community uses. Swimming lessons for all school children is a specific program objective. The project also includes another roadway ingress and egress for Fort Dorchester High School campus. Another conceptual option: The Dorchester Library Commission is planning a satellite library somewhere in the North Charleston sections of the county. The Aquatics Center site at Patriot Boulevard and Appian Way is a possible option. I’ll keep you posted.

Police Citizens Advisory Commission - This panel has an important mission to improve communications and general relationships between police men and women and the communities they serve.  This group is fully supported by the mayor and city council. Its mission statement was drafted by the U.S. Justice Department. As I reported previously in this newsletter, each councilman appoints two members. We had a dozen outstanding candidates applying from District 4.  For the Commission’s critically-important organizational period, I’ve made the following two appointments:

Marc Embler and Richard Hayes.

Dr. Embler is dean of Charleston Southern University Center For Academic Excellence and chairman of the school’s Criminal Justice Department.

Mr. Hayes is a retired air force officer, an executive in a local chemical manufacturing firm and a member of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry.

 

Raising Cane’s at The Corner at Wescott – This very popular restaurant has been cited for violating the buffer between its building and Dorchester Road. The company apparently went a bit too far in cleaning up post-storm debris and “under-brushed” what is to be an undisturbed natural buffer. The mitigation requirements will include new plantings in a process to be supervised by the city’s public works team.

New Exercise EQUIPMENT - Look for the new “adult” exercise stations at equipment at the Wescott Park and Ballfields. This complements the children’s playground which was installed last year. The exercise features were funded by District 9 Councilman Kenny Skipper’s discretionary bond program. The children’s playground facility was sponsored and funded by District 4’s program.

This one-time program has created pocket-parks and playgrounds at several  District 4 locations and has funded the city’s share of several important streets repaving projects. One last project could support cleanup of drainage wetlands severely damaged last October by Hurricane Matthew.  Councilman Skipper and I have been discussing with the mayor options for creating another similar program next year.

Dog Play Park at Wescott Park - This instantly popular facility has been showing signs of overuse, especially during the periods of heavy rain. Our city’s recreation department team has been working hard to keep it “playable” and they’re looking at some options for installing artificial turf specifically designed for such facilities.

DRAINAGE SYSTEM  MAINTENANCE  - I’ve been asked to share again the links below which provide valuable and timely information about maintenance of  drainage facilities owned by property owners’ associations. There have been four major rain events in our district over the last 18 months. We’ve been reminded that so much of the drainage “system” we depend upon is “privately” owned by POAs and HOAs.   Ongoing maintenance is not just important—it is imperative ! Please keep me posted on maintenance initiatives in your neighborhoods.

 

EPA best practices, includes plans and checklists….https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/pondmgmtguide.pdf

This citizens guide to pond maintenance: http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Docs/ponds.pdf

Our Best Management Practices (BMP) manual has sections on the construction of both wet and dry detention ponds. http://www.scdhec.gov/Environment/WaterQuality/Stormwater/BMPHandbook/mindex.htm

Clemson’s also has a helpful guide on stormwater pond problem solving.  website: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/natural_resources/water/stormwater_ponds/problem_solving/index.html

 

Please share these updates with your neighbors and I’m happy to add anyone to the base mailing list. And please contact me anytime with questions or counsel.  rbrin@aol.com