113017 Pawleys Island: Petition seeks more input on beach project
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Pawleys Island: Petition seeks more input on beach project

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A group of Pawleys Island property owners is petitioning Town Council to hold a public hearing and provide more details about its plans for a beach renourishment project. Town officials say they already plan to do that, but are waiting until they know more about the project cost.

Town Council agreed last month to start engineering work on a project to pump 725,000 cubic yards of offshore sand onto 2.7 miles of beach. It is estimated to cost $11.8 million, which the town plans to fund through its beach management fund, a state grant and a loan. But officials say they can’t be sure of the cost until the design is complete and bids are received. Those are expected in late winter.

The petition being circulated asks for “a full public hearing” on the project within six weeks and emphasizes that hearing should come with “responses from the council.”

“We need a full conversation,” said Leda McIntyre Hall, a north end resident who made an unsuccessful bid for a seat on Town Council in this month’s election. “The process ought to be something we have a well-informed public discussion about.”

The petitions are “just saying to council we think this is important.”

Henry Thomas, a north end property owner, served on the town Beach Committee. He voted for the project, but then recinded his vote saying the proposal was “seriously flawed.”

“Waiting on bids is not an excuse to not inform Pawleys Island owners before it is too late for them to be involved in the process,” Thomas said. “The owners want to make an informed decision when they vote in the referendum.”

The council plans a non-binding vote of property owners on the proposal.

Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said he learned of the petition in emails from owners last week. Four people showed up at Town Hall to ask about it.

“There’s nothing on this list that we haven’t done or planned to do,” he said.

The petition asks for details on the financing and an evaluation of the environmental impact.

Hall said the town isn’t talking about how future renourishment will be funded. “I was excoriated for using the words property and tax in the same sentence.”

“The long-term cost is part of the process,” Fabbri said. “It would be irresponsible not to talk about it.” Once the town has the numbers, they will be shared with owners, he said.

Hall is confident Fabbri will do that, but wants confirmation from the council.

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