News


2011 Reassessment

posted Aug 21, 2011, 8:11 AM by Marie Sligh   [ updated Aug 21, 2011, 8:14 AM ]

Charleston County is currently in the process of reassessments. For more information, please see http://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/Assessor/2011reassessment.htm

North Charleston City Council redistricting public meetings

posted May 24, 2011, 1:01 PM by Marie Sligh

North Charleston, SC – In the coming weeks, the City of North Charleston will hold a series of Public Meetings for the general public to review and provide comments on the redrawing of City Council district lines.

It is necessary to "rebalance" district sizes periodically so a vote in one district has the same weight as a vote in all others. The Census, which counts population every 10 years, typically reveals population shifts resulting in varying council district sizes. In turn, the Census allows for the accurate drawing of new map lines based on those shifts.

Also, according to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, election plans are required to be drawn in a way that is fair to minorities. Section 5 of the Act requires that select states (including South Carolina) get "pre-clearance" from the US Justice Department or Federal Court before making any official change to its election plan.

Copies of the draft map will be displayed throughout the City at City Hall, community centers, churches, and on the city’s website, here: http://bit.ly/councilredistricting.

Citizens can also submit comments online from the webpage mentioned above.

Below you will find a schedule of Public Meetings:

Date Location
Monday, May 23, 6:00 pm North Charleston City Hall, Council Chambers
Tuesday, May 24, 6:30 pm Chicora Elementary School Auditorium
Tuesday, May 31, 6:30 pm Ft. Dorchester High School Cafeteria
Wednesday, June 1, 6:30 pm Lambs Elementary School Cafeteria
Thursday, June 2, 6:30 pm Northwoods Community Center Gym

The City hopes to have First Reading of the Council District Ordinance at the Thursday, June 9, 2011 City Council Meeting and Final Reading at the Thursday, June 23, 2011 City Council Meeting.

More Details on the Fence Set-Back Problem

posted Dec 10, 2010, 8:19 AM by Marie Sligh   [ updated Dec 10, 2010, 8:22 AM ]

The Ordinance is “Subsection 5-14 (B)(1)(B) of Appendix A,” as known as the “University Boulevard Overlay Fence Ordinance.”

This proposed set-back is almost as bad for the businesses as it is for the residents. Businesses are usually willing to devote some of their expensive business land to worthwhile public purposes such as a green-space tree buffer. However, it is impossible to maintain a tree buffer in only 3 feet. So why is the City trying to require this? The stated reason is so the business will have a place convenient for workers to stand when maintaining the fence.


That’s right: a big-government, nanny-state provision that instructs businesses to give up hundreds of square feet of their private property in order to perform a private task on their privately-owned fence by standing in the spot the government picked out for them. No public purpose is served. For example, the Healthcare organization land next to me will sacrifice more than 1700 square feet land worth tens of thousands of dollars to this utterly unnecessary law. In addition, if somebody cutting through on the strip of business land so attractive as a walkway falls and is hurt, the business could get sued.


No business owning land on University Boulevard in front of Deer Park wants the government to decide for them that they can’t put their own fence near their own property line without paying a resident for an easement. They don’t want to be exposed to lawsuits. And they certainly don’t want to be forced to set aside hundreds of square feet of expensive land, not for a public purpose, but for the convenience of a fence repair company a few times per decade. In addition, Nason Medical, which because of an unexpected problem, really needs the law to allow it to place its fence at the property edge seems deliberately excluded by the set-back. Why, I don’t know. If the set-back is passed, the public will continue to perceive the Nason fence as being in inexplicable violation of the law.


No resident affected wants the set-backs. Among those who will be made easier targets for crimes of opportunity are some houses on Dantzler, Shadow, Fernwood, Nevonna, Gable, Storen, and possibly Antler, as well as some possible locations on Greenridge. A cut-through behind the Deer Park Baptist Church parsonage will lend easy access to Church property where children play and from there across to facing houses on Storen.


The City keeps coming up with new reasons for this set-back:
  1. On two occasions within the last few weeks, our Councilman Bobby Jameson agreed with me that the set-back passageways are dangerous and he promised both times to have them eliminated. Then he said that it would take too long to revise the Ordinance (it takes one month), and so he’s going to try to push it through. He’s very fortunate in that his house will not be one of those affected.
  2. The City claims that a 3-foot area is safer than having a 25-foot buffer next to the resident. This is absolutely wrong. In the 50 years my house has been surrounded by woods, not one person has come along, leaping from bush to bush and tree to tree like a cartoon character, sneaking up to break in. Why not? They’d have to carry their stolen goods back through the dark, falling over vines, caught up in briars, and possibly getting bitten by raccoons or foxes or snakes. As a long-time Police Officer familiar with our area explained to us, if he were a criminal he’d be much more attracted to the narrow space where he could ease along under cover of a solid fence than a wider area where his movement in the thin woods where it would be more difficult to move and where he would be easier to see in the time he would be exposed.
  3. The City has now started to claim that because the “nice” side of the fence is supposed to face out to the residents, the City has to intervene, in nanny-state fashion, to force the business to make maintenance arrangements that suit the City's idea of how the business should manage its private affairs. A respectful, limited-government approach would be to just include a statement in the law that the business must keep the fence maintained and leave it to the business to figure out how to do that in the most cost-effective manner.
  4. The City also claims that some woman in some other District created a disturbance by insisting the business next to her should repair its fence, and then refused them access to her land long enough to make the repairs. Therefore, says the City, people in Deer Park, where no such problem ever happened, must suffer this set-back rule. And the District where the problem actually happened – is its fence law being changed? Of course not. Their Council representative knows better than to try to micromanage every little dispute with an invasive law affecting people never even involved in such a dispute.
But you know what? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if somebody who lives too far from the business to be affected by the law thinks they’d feel safe in these conditions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether somebody who doesn’t own one of the few business properties involved thinks it’s fine for the cost of doing business to be raised, not for any public purpose, but to micromanage private business affairs.

What matters is that a special law is being written, for no public purpose, targeted to affect a tiny group of people, all of whom object to it. If it happens to us, it could happen to you. Please help us stop this new trend now.

New Website To Track Local Crime

posted Sep 1, 2010, 11:03 AM by Marie Sligh   [ updated Sep 1, 2010, 11:17 AM ]

There is a new website - RAIDS Online - designed to let you see what crimes have been occurring nearby (please note that the data is only as accurate as what the local law enforcements report to it). To use it:
  • Follow the RAIDS Online link
  • On the left-hand side, either type in your address or select North Charleston from the drop-down box
  • On the left-hand side, you can also narrow your search criteria. If you click on "Crime Types", you will be offered a list of the different kinds of crime the map displays. You can check or uncheck boxes to show or hide those types of crime. You can also click on "Date Range" to change the dates for which you wish to show crimes that occurred
  • In order to get more information about a crime, click on a colored circle on the map. The colors correspond with the kinds of crimes listed on the left-hand side under "Crime Types."
  • In order to get closer, there is a slider sitting on the top of the map on the left. Click the plus sign to zoom in and the minus sign to zoom out.
  • Just above the map and under the website logo, are some tabs for additional information, such as "Data Grid" (which lets you see a sorted list) and "Analytics" (which has graphs for trends)
  • If you would like to sign up for email alerts, there is a green button on the upper-right corner

County Expands Recycling Program to Accept Cardboard at Curbside

posted Apr 26, 2010, 1:16 PM by Marie Sligh

Charleston County News Release
Date: April 20, 2010


Charleston County will begin picking up corrugated cardboard and more paper items during its normal curbside recycling routes

During last Saturday’s
11th Annual Earth Day Festival, Charleston County Council member Colleen Condon announced that Charleston County’s Environmental Management Department has expanded its recycling program to accept corrugated cardboard as part of its residential curbside recycling program. Corrugated cardboard is considered cardboard boxes with a middle “waffle-like” layer.

In addition to cardboard, the County is now also accepting all paper items to include envelopes with plastic windows, gift wrapping paper, etc.

"We are excited to announce that Charleston County now accepts cardboard and all types of paper in our curbside bins and dropsites," Condon said. "If you can tear it, recycle it in your bin."

In honor of Earth Day, the County has compost on sale for the month of April at the Bees Ferry Landfill for $1 per bag or $5 per ton, which is half off the regular price.

How to recycle cardboard:
  • Residents with curbside service can now place cardboard at the curb with their regular recyclables that are placed in one bin for plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, steel cans and aerosol cans, and in another bin for paper, such as magazines, newspaper, junk mail, paperboard (examples: cereal boxes, tissue boxes, etc.) and office paper.
  • Curbside residents should flatten and place cardboard boxes, up to three feet by three feet in size, between or under their two bins or inside a separate bin. Curbside recycling in Charleston County is collected bi-weekly in the urban areas starting at 7 a.m.
  • Rural residents, as well as curbside users who have cardboard pieces larger than three feet by three feet, can drop their cardboard off at the drop site locations and County staffed Convenience Centers. Charleston County Environmental Management maintains 40 cardboard drop sites and eight Convenience Centers located throughout the County.
  • Residents in the rural parts of the County can utilize drop sites and Convenience Centers for recycling services. Drop site locations are open 24 hours per day and seven days a week and are not staffed. Convenience Centers are staffed by Environmental Management Department employees
Residents can call (843) 720-7111 or visit recycle.charlestoncounty.org to find out their recycling collection day, the nearest drop site location, and Convenience Center addresses and hours of operation.

Explanation of Storm Water Fees

posted Sep 19, 2009, 12:08 PM by Marie Sligh

by Jim Hutto

In basic terms, in 1972 Congress passed the “Clean Water Act” under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It basically said, in part that storm water runoff contains pollutants that find their way into streams, rivers and lakes. This legislation mandated that those types of pollutants must be controlled by states and/or reduced to meet federal water quality standards.

Here’s the interesting part. Note I said by “states” above. The states, including SC, passed these requirements down to the counties and cities with no funding source to meet the requirements. The feds are allowed to levy large fines on violations, up to $50,000 per day for willful violations! The states can levy these fines along with the EPA to counties and cities that don’t meet the specified federal water quality standards (acceptable levels of pollutants in rivers, lakes and streams). The State was sued as many of us thought this program should be managed by them (SCDHEC) since it was a federal mandate to states, but the courts determined the state had the right to mandate a large portion of the program to local governments.

The question facing us then was how do we fund this “unfunded mandate”? Most local governments nationwide chose the Storm Water Utility Fee rather than real or personal property tax increases. Now, as per the legislation we are required to meet six minimum measures:
  1. Provide public education and outreach. We choose to let Carolina Clear (Clemson University) do this for us. It cost around $35,000 or so per year. They handle the public education talks, brochures, TV and radio ads, etc. with schools, civic groups, etc.
  2. Public participation and involvement. This too is part of the Carolina Clear contract. As a part of this they keep records that will be turned in to SCDHEC to show what’s being done.
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination. This requires us to find and track down pollutants being discharged into our municipal drainage system. It may also require us to modify our existing system to separate and/or minimize polluted storm water from entering streams, rivers, etc. This would come from our storm water capital fund. The Capital Fund could also pay for upgrades to existing older systems. This would be kind a balance we would build up over a number of years to pay for large expensive improvements.
  4. Post construction runoff. This requires controls on our, or contractor jobs to control loose dirt and sediment from washing away during rain events. We have staff monitor the sites. Staff is paid for through the utility fee. Materials are also paid for through the fee if we do the construction.
  5. Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping. This requires us to prevent pollution in our city drainage system and around our sites (like the Public Works Compound).
  6. Post construction site runoff. We must monitor sites after construction is finished to insure no excessive runoff with pollutants are being discharged into our system.
The majority of our utility fee will be charged against staff dealing with our municipal drainage issues (maintenance and engineering with some administration), the equipment they use (Vac truck, excavators, pickups, etc, supplies (silt fence, pipes, catch basin boxes and covers), fuel costs, and other general budget items. We have been funding around $1 million of stormwater/drainage expenses out of the General Fund each year up till now, but the small fee increase should pay for all the stormwater related expense AND give us a small reserve each year to invest in drainage project upgrades in problem areas prone to flooding or older crumbling drainage infrastructure replacement.

Residents Encouraged to Recycle Phone Books

posted Sep 1, 2009, 7:21 AM by Marie Sligh   [ updated Sep 1, 2009, 7:25 AM ]

Charleston County News Release
MEDIA CONTACT
Name: Jennie Davis, Charleston County Public Information Officer
Phone: 843.958.4012
Email: jdavis@charlestoncounty.org

Release Number: 3043
Date: August 27, 2009


Charleston County’s Environmental Management Department will recycle phone books

Charleston County’s Environmental Management Department wants residents and business owners to know what to do with old phone books as new phone books are distributed.

INFORMATION FOR RESIDENTS
  • For curbside pick-up, old phone books should be placed with other paper recyclables (separated from glass, plastic, aluminum, etc.). Residents should be mindful that putting more than about four phone books in their recycling bin could be too heavy for the County’s curbside recycling drivers to lift.
  • Phone books can also be placed in the paper section of any Charleston County recycling convenience center or drop site location.
  • Residents with an abundance of phone books are encouraged to either take them to a recycling drop site location (place the phone books in the paper section) or take them to the recycling center.

INFORMATION FOR BUSINESS OWNERS
  • Business representatives can bring any bulk amount of phone books to the recycling center through Monday, Nov. 2.
  • Drivers will be directed to unload their phone books into the large boxes at the recycling center.

The recycling center is located at 13 Romney Street in downtown Charleston. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.

For a list of drop site locations, visit http://www.charlestoncounty.org/Departments/SolidWaste/pubs/DropSiteMap.pdf.

Call the Charleston County’s Environmental Management Department at (843) 720-7111 for more information on recycling phone books with other paper recyclables.

For more news and information on Charleston County Government, visit the County’s Web site at www.charlestoncounty.org.

Local Partnership Increases Public Access to Museum, Fire Prevention and Life Safety in North Charleston

posted May 25, 2009, 5:19 PM by Marie Sligh

North Charleston, SC – May 20, 2009 – The North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center announces the start of the "Museum Library Pass” program. This exciting program is a cooperative partnership between the tri-county public libraries and the North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center. The aim of this partnership is to offer free museum access to anyone with a library card. Each library, including all braches, in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties will receive 2 hard plastic (credit card style) passes to the North Charleston American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center. The passes can be checked out of each library just like any other book or media and for the same period of time. The pass will allow the bearer plus one adult and all children under the age of 13 into the Fire Museum for free. This program will help foster a natural partnership between museums and libraries in the Lowcounrty and follow the museum’s mission to educate North Charleston and surrounding communities on the importance of fire and life safety, through history and evolution of the fire service. For more information please contact Max Sterling at (843) 696-6498 or maxjsterling@gmail.com.

Revisions to the City's Tree Ordinance

posted Apr 4, 2009, 1:15 PM by Marie Sligh   [ updated Apr 4, 2009, 1:19 PM ]

A message from the City Planning Department:

The North Charleston City Council has just adopted a major revision to the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance (to see the ordinance, click here). This Ordinance was updated in connection with the update of our Comprehensive Plan and also responded to concerns from our City Council. The major changes are outlined below.

  1. Expands protection from 10” dbh to 8” dbh.
  2. Lowers the threshold for Grand trees from 25” dbh to 24” dbh.
  3. Introduces the terms Protected Trees (any tree 8” dbh or greater), Significant Trees (8” dbh to 23” dbh) and Grand Trees (24” dbh and greater).
  4. Specifies requirements for tree replacement plans and call out various forms of possible replacement such a s new planting, existing on-site mitigation trees, relocated trees, and tree bank contributions.
  5. Specifies requirements for tree protection plan detail as an element of the site plan submittal.
  6. Addresses the cutting and replacement of Significant Trees and adds trees falling in the footprint of drainage ponds to list of types of cutting that do not require replacement for Significant Trees.
  7. Addresses the cutting and replacement of Grand Trees, excludes Pine from definition of Grand Trees.
  8. Addresses the need for tree protection, specifies minimum standards, and establishes administrative authority to allow drip-line encroachment equivalent to one quarter the distance from the trunk to the drip-line contingent upon confirmation from an Arborist that the proposed encroachment would not adversely impact the tree.
  9. Establishes an administrative bonding procedure that would allow up to $50,000 in landscaping improvements to be bonded. The funds or bond instruments would be handled by the Finance Director.
  10. Provides an exemption for cutting associated with Utility Company easement maintenance.
  11. Addresses cutting without a permit with inch for inch replacement, a potential fine per tree cut and/or up to 30 days in jail.

I would like to invite you to review this Ordinance at your leisure and keep it in mind whenever doing work in the City of North Charleston. Please feel free to contact me should you have any comments or concerns regarding this Ordinance.

Sincerely,
William B. Gore
Zoning Administrator

Air Quality Problems

posted Mar 18, 2009, 8:38 AM by Marie Sligh   [ updated Mar 24, 2009, 12:24 PM ]

Chicora Elementary rated in the 1st percentile of schools located in an area of polluted air. That means 99% of the schools in the country have cleaner air. A.C. Corcoran rated in the 13th percentile: that means that 77% of the schools in the country have cleaner air than here. We need to ask our city representatives to work on cleaning up our city's air.

These statistics come from a recent USA Today and Johns Hopkins University study using EPA models to predict whether schools across America are located in areas with toxic air quality Across the nation, schools are sited within close proximity of heavy industrial polluters. You can read the article by clicking here.

North Charleston has also done some recent air quality tests for Accabee, Chicora/Cherokee, Howard Heights and Union Heights. Here you can read the details of the North Charleston Report and public discussion.

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