Mayor Billy Keyserling, in his weekly newsletter of April 11 , seemed to suggest that the City had delegated responsibility for a Lady’s Island master plan to the Sea Island Coalition and Coastal Conservation League.
He wrote: “As the Sea Island Coalition and the SC Coastal Conservation League continue to work on a much needed long term plan for Ladys [sic] Island, I would highly recommend the realities of funding mechanisms be included in the plan. Working with the Citizens, the Schools, the County, the City and the Town of Port Royal (because they are deeply effected [sic] by traffic to and from the islands) must in our own ways be part of the solution.
Not much to disagree with. Master Plans need to meaningfully involve the residents they affect, and the needs and impacts on all stakeholders have to be considered.
But rely on the Coalition and the League for “the much-needed long-term plan for Ladys [sic] Island?” Under state law, that responsibility falls to county and municipal planning commissions. Only they have the powers to prepare plans, recommend their adoption, enact zoning ordinances and determine policies or procedures to facilitate implementation of such plans.
The Sea Island Coalition picked up on this, and responded in an e-mail to the Mayor to clarify the matter:
“You…wrote in your posting that ‘As the Sea Island Coalition and the SC Coastal Conservation League continue to work on a much needed long term plan for Lady’s Island…’
We are in the process of pulling together the input from the various meetings and the like, but in no way are we preparing a long term plan, and I would hope we could avoid setting a false expectation. Neither the Coalition nor the Coastal Conservation League have the responsibility or the decision-making power to craft such a plan.
“What we are trying to do is craft a Lady’s Island-wide consensus as to the locus of development on the Island, and articulate a few guiding principles that planners for the City and County, in our view, ought to take into account as part of any Master Plan. Responsibility for development of an actual master plan, especially one spanning state, county and city jurisdictions, is clearly that of jurisdictions holding police powers and with the ability to make it happen as a matter of policy.”
We appreciate the Mayor’s support for a true Master Plan for Lady’s Island, as well as the review initiative taken by County Planning toward that end. But it will take more than words; thorough planning requires deeper expertise than either the city or county have on hand, so finding that expertise generally means money.
Lady’s Island, for better or worse, is now a creature of the City and the County. Both now share responsibility for the place, and we are already seeing the results of piecemeal development. Somewhere within the county’s $60 million budget and the $20 million city budget, there are funds for a thorough look at Lady’s Island and the development of a smart Master Plan to guide its future.
Lady’s Island has been taken for granted for far too long. With a population now rivaling that of the City of Beaufort, and growing, its future needs to be a priority.
Is the problem money? Or commitment and leadership?