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Latest News in Seabrook Island, SC

Seabrook Island neighbors push for short-term rental cap, mayor says no cap needed

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Seabrook Island neighbors are petitioning their leaders to cap the number of short-term rentals, stating there is overcrowding due to what they called over-tourism, but the mayor said the town has no plans to do so.Seabrook Island homeowner Ted Flerlage says over 700 of his neighbors want to cap the number of short-term rentals on the island.“What we’re trying to do is cap, not end the process of short-term rentals, cap at roughly the present numbers, evaluate what happens after that,&...

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Seabrook Island neighbors are petitioning their leaders to cap the number of short-term rentals, stating there is overcrowding due to what they called over-tourism, but the mayor said the town has no plans to do so.

Seabrook Island homeowner Ted Flerlage says over 700 of his neighbors want to cap the number of short-term rentals on the island.

“What we’re trying to do is cap, not end the process of short-term rentals, cap at roughly the present numbers, evaluate what happens after that,” Flerlage said, “and then, determine whether or not we should lower the number of short-term rentals.”

As of June 19, there are 484 of these properties on the island, which residents said has led to overcrowding on the island’s streets and amenities.

Mayor John Gregg said for this year, data gathered over the past few months suggest otherwise.

“We’re not going to be looking at imposing limitations on the number of short-term rental units,” Gregg said.

Coastal Getaways owner Nancy Buck said more people are starting to call the island home, and good rentals are full for around 40% of the year.

She says all of her clients are property owners who rent to help offset the costs of the amenities, taxes and insurance.

“We’ve also gone from 35% permanent residents to 60% residents in the last two years,” Buck said. “Twenty-five percent of the properties have turned over since 2019.”

Buck also adds the majority of the amenities are mostly used by members and not rental guests.

However, the homeowners want the town’s government to hear them out.

“I’d like him to reconsider,” Flerlage said. “I’d like him to look at the reality and listen to the people who are property owners here, the residents on the island. You know, 700 people is a big number.”

“Let’s wait and see how this year goes,” Buck said. “They instituted the short-term rental ordinance couple of years ago, or actually, last year, so let’s give it a full year to see how it goes.”

Both Buck and the homeowners said they want to work out their differences over the next several months to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

MUSC Health breaks ground on Sea Islands Medical Pavilion

The more than 20,000 square foot facility will be located at 1884 Seabrook Island Road, near Bohicket Marina. The Sea Islands community is expected to undergo significant population growth over the next few years, especially those residents 65 and older. The Sea Islands are also geographically isolated, situated more than 20 miles from the nearest hospital. The area also accommodates a large seasonal population of tourists, many of whom have trouble navigating local health care services.“It can take up to 45 minutes to get to th...

The more than 20,000 square foot facility will be located at 1884 Seabrook Island Road, near Bohicket Marina. The Sea Islands community is expected to undergo significant population growth over the next few years, especially those residents 65 and older. The Sea Islands are also geographically isolated, situated more than 20 miles from the nearest hospital. The area also accommodates a large seasonal population of tourists, many of whom have trouble navigating local health care services.

“It can take up to 45 minutes to get to the nearest hospital from the Sea Islands. That’s too long for an emergency situation such as a stroke, where every minute counts. As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we are committed to delivering the best possible care, closest to home,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “This new medical pavilion will provide rapid access to outstanding care for the entire Sea Islands community.”

As part of the MUSC Health system’s overarching strategy, the MUSC Health Charleston Division has worked to provide better community access and local care in the greater Tri-County region, as well as coastal communities to the north and south of Charleston. This enables better capacity at the flagship facilities, which offer specialized and complex care downtown while enhancing overall accessibility and continuity of care for patients and families, especially in underserved communities. Since 2019, four new multispecialty ambulatory care platforms have opened in West Ashley, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

In addition to 24/7 emergency care, the facility will offer two trauma rooms, a rooftop helicopter pad, and a medical office building that will provide primary and specialty care, including imaging and lab services, cardiology and physical therapy. A telemedicine network will connect the entire facility to some of the nation’s top providers at MUSC Health in downtown Charleston. The Town of Kiawah Island donated $1 million to create a healing, restful green space and garden adjacent to the new facility.

“Accessibility to the wonderful health system and hospitals we have here has been a concern, so it was exciting to hear about this project,” said Town of Kiawah Mayor John Labriola. “My hat’s off to the MUSC Board of Trustees and the institution’s leadership, because getting a certificate of need is not easy… personally, I look forward to the ribbon cutting and seeing our garden that will be named for the Town of Kiawah.”

The project was made possible in part by Kiawah Partners, which was acquired by South Street Partners in 2013, who donated 6 acres of land to the Medical University Hospital Authority (MUSC Health), valued at $4.85 million.

"This project was initiated to meet the huge need for medical services on Kiawah Island, Seabrook, and Johns Island. With no convenient emergency healthcare options currently available, we have been working for seven-plus years to figure out a way to bring accessible healthcare to the Sea Islands,” said Chris Randolph, South Street Partners. “Thanks to MUSC, we will soon have a world-class medical facility that provides so much more than what we had originally envisioned. We couldn’t be more pleased to have been able to donate the land for this project and feel very grateful to partner with such an excellent health care system.”

Of the estimated $30 million needed to fund the project, MUSC is committed to raising $17 million in private support. To date, it has received more than $9.5 million in confirmed gifts, with many coming from local residents.

“Private support is critical to the long-term success of the MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion because of the many financial challenges that come with operating a medical facility in this community,” said Kate Azizi, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “One challenge is the low population density of the Sea Islands. While this is an aging population that needs timely access to medical care – there aren’t enough people living in these communities full time to sustain our operations. Philanthropic support helps fill those gaps, allowing us to deliver the best care possible where and when it’s needed.”

Donors Chris and DeeDee Gibson are giving $2 million to the project. In recognition of their generosity, the physical therapy space will be named in their honor. “My family has been coming to Kiawah for close to 40 years,” Chris Gibson said. “When my wife DeeDee and I built a home here, she had one request: that there was a hospital nearby in case of an emergency. All these years later, we are excited to contribute to the new MUSC Health Sea Islands Medical Pavilion and to help make these vital medical services available to our neighbors on Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns islands.”

“The construction of a full-fledged medical facility with emergency services is a dream come true for all Johns, Kiawah and Seabrook Islands,” said local resident Pam Harrington, who donated $2 million and will name the emergency department after the Harrington family. “As our population continues to grow and more folks are retiring to our area, the demand for medical services grows with it! Being a Kiawah/Cassique resident for many years, the addition of a medical pavilion fills a real need that has existed over several decades. Prior to my 40-plus years in real estate on the islands I was a practicing ICU nurse. This medical center is near and dear to my heart! As a thank you and show of appreciation to all who have been so supportive of my success, here, on the Sea Islands, it seems befitting to take this opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.”

Construction is expected to conclude in late 2023.

Quote bank:

Seabrook Mayor John Gregg – “It is indeed my pleasure to welcome MUSC to Seabrook Island, as our local community will be well served by the capabilities of this facility and the practitioners who will staff it. We look forward to having better availability of care, ranging from emergency room treatment, to advanced diagnostics for the ailments, bumps, pains, scrapes, stings, and strains that come with having an active and diverse population.”

MUSC Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Charles Schulze – “On behalf of the board, I want to acknowledge, commend, and deeply, deeply thank you for your dedication hard work and the public private collaboration that is taking place to get us to where we are today. As an air force veteran of the Vietnam war, I know the importance and necessity of teamwork. When you have a complex mission ahead of you in those situations, your unity as a team is your biggest strength… And it didn't matter where you live, where you were from or what your background was in our military. You learned that persistence, perseverance, collaboration, and expertise are critical to the success of a mission. And it's been no different in this case. When the board began to discuss the feasibility of this project, we knew it wasn't going to happen without teamwork and vision. Not only from everybody at MUSC, but also from the community here in the sea islands.”

MUSC Health System CEO and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs Dr. Pat Cawley – “What makes this project challenging is that it doesn’t fit into normal health constructs. We spent a lot of time with the community, trying to gauge what was needed and it was clear that there was tremendous community support for this project and it was the engagement with the concept of neighbors caring for neighbors and the work of the community to reach out to state officials and regulators that helped make this project a reality. MUSC Health is proud to be a part of this community and its health care provider of choice, and we are humbled by the level of support we are receiving to bring this shared vision to reality.”

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About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in research funds in fiscal year 2021, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit web.musc.edu

As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2022, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $5.1 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.

Why does everyone love Charleston so much? We have some thoughts.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — “Well, look at you in that fancy skirt! Don’t you look sassy,” said the woman at the front desk of the Charleston Place hotel. Frankly, we’d fly two hours from Boston just to be called “sassy” by someone with a Southern accent.How was it that we’d never visited Charleston before? This gorgeous, historic city in South Carolina has cropped up on so many “best” lists, it should have its number retired. We decided to plan a girlfriend getaway to the Holy City &...

CHARLESTON, S.C. — “Well, look at you in that fancy skirt! Don’t you look sassy,” said the woman at the front desk of the Charleston Place hotel. Frankly, we’d fly two hours from Boston just to be called “sassy” by someone with a Southern accent.

How was it that we’d never visited Charleston before? This gorgeous, historic city in South Carolina has cropped up on so many “best” lists, it should have its number retired. We decided to plan a girlfriend getaway to the Holy City — so-called due to its 400 places of worship — to meet up with an old friend, Courtney, and see what we’d been missing. Would this coastal Carolina burg (population around 60,000) live up to the hype?

We’re suckers for beauty, and this place nails it. The oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston has nearly 3,000 historic buildings reflecting eight architectural styles: Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Classic Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, and Art Deco. Not to mention, it’s a short (just over two hours), nonstop flight from Boston. And the weather is pretty darn fine.

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Since we love to explore on foot, we chose lodgings in the heart of the action, the independently-owned Charleston Place (from $400; www.charlestonplace.com). It sits alongside King Street, a major shopping and dining zone. Good museums are a short stroll away. Oh, and one of Charleston’s must-do restaurants, FIG, is just down the block. Plus, the hotel has a terrific on-site spa — a girlfriend getaway requirement and its own much-lauded eatery, Charleston Grill. (Chef Michelle Weaver, props to you for the best scallops we’ve ever had.)

Everyone you meet is quick to tell you how friendly Charlestonians are, lest you expect a passel of sour-pussed Lindsey Grahams. “Good cheer” seems to be the default setting. But it’s not all sunshine and sweet tea. Local folks — tour guides, museum docents, pedicab drivers — aren’t shy about discussing the horrifying aspects of hometown history.

In Colonial America, Charleston was the fourth largest city, and the richest, its wealth built on the backs of enslaved people who farmed rice, indigo, and Sea Island cotton. “About 40 to 60 percent of enslaved people in the US came through the port of Charleston,” says Tyler Page Wright, tour guide and owner of Walk & Talk Charleston ($30; www.walkandtalkchs.com). Placards marking slave auction sites dot the city. The Charleston Museum (adults, $12; www.charlestonmuseum.org) offers an in-depth look at the lives of enslaved people on Low Country plantations. And everyone is buzzing about the new International African American Museum, slated to open later this year.

Set between the Cooper and Ashley rivers, which meet to form Charleston Harbor, Charleston is a peninsula. Handsome pastel-hued stucco homes with ornate ironwork line downtown streets, comprising a 2-square-mile historic district. A walking tour offers an excellent overview of all this, including famous sites like the Circular Congregational Church. Horse-and-carriage tours are also popular. Wright is a gregarious guide, happy to answer questions like: What is a haint? (Answer: A trapped spirit.) Why does Charleston have so many window boxes? (Answer: It’s a thing here, and residents are super-competitive about it.) And, who are the ladies selling woven sweetgrass baskets? (Answer: Gullah Geechee women, who are descendants of the enslaved Africans who worked on the plantations.) Their beautiful baskets are the ultimate Charleston souvenir.

Besides sweetgrass baskets, what else makes a wonderful souvenir of Charleston? After prowling the shops on King Street, we’d say a goldbug from Croghan’s Jewel Box (www.croghansjewelbox.com), a century-old jeweler known for designing every Charlestonian’s engagement ring. This sparkly shop sells Charleston-themed pieces like cuff bracelets inlaid with the city skyline. But we fell hard for goldbugs, a whimsical take on the cockroach (a.k.a. Palmetto bug), designed by founder William Croghan’s great-granddaughter, Mini Hay, and featured in Vogue magazine. Yep, we’re talking gilded cockroaches.

Want to get a conversation going? Ask a Charlestonian about pluff mud. This squishy marshland material, made of decomposed grasses and sea life, smells foul to visitors, but to locals, it smells like home. We got a good whiff (it smells earthy and slightly rotten-eggy) on a sunset kayak tour of Shem Creek with Coastal Expeditions (from $65; www.coastalexpeditions.com), just over the bridge from Charleston in Mount Pleasant. On this guided sea kayak tour, fine for beginners and families, you paddle alongside tall spartina grass and, yes, pluff mud. We saw great blue herons and egrets along the creek; sometimes paddlers spot manatees. Heading back toward a passage lined with seafood shacks, we encountered a pod of dolphins, who came thisclose to our vessels. “Paddles up!” our guide, Morgan, instructed, so we wouldn’t coldcock the cetaceans. After that, the creamsicle-hued sunset was anticlimactic.

Speaking of creamsicles, we quickly discovered the place to go for that girlfriend getaway staple, a spiked milkshake: Carmella’s Café & Dessert Bar (www.carmellasdessertbar.com) on East Bay Street. And they do mean bar; there’s a full bar at this spot, along with gelato, excellent cookies, Italian pastries, and sandwiches. Carmella’s has indoor seating, and some outdoor bistro tables, but it’s double the pleasure if you munch/sip as you walk along the waterfront. In Charleston, winter temps are typically in the high 50s and lower 60s — that’s shorts-and-T-shirt weather here in Boston.

Charlestonians — and the 6 million tourists who visit each year — are obsessed with food. We were practically delirious to secure a coveted reservation at FIG (Food Is Good; entrees from $39; www.eatatfig.com ), a Charleston mainstay co-owned by James Beard award-winning chef Mike Lata. It’s a splurgy night out but, wow: The ricotta gnocchi ala Bolognese was a triumph of pillowy deliciousness. Chef Lata also operates a seafood restaurant in the city, The Ordinary. But we were eager to try another buzzed-about seafood place, 167 Raw (from $8; www.167raw.com). The owners also operate a place on Nantucket (which may explain the lobster roll on the menu), but we went local, opting for crab dip, a shrimp po’boy, and shrimp tacos. We never got around to ordering shrimp and grits during our trip, the most popular dish among the tourist set.

We never made it to the beach, either. Oops. “Everyone comes for the history and the food, so the beaches are kind of a secret,” says Ike High of Explore Charleston. Located about 25 minutes from the city proper are beaches including Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island, Sullivan Island, Seabrook Beach, and Folly Beach. We’re told they’re wide and firm, with tawny sand, but we’ve never actually seen them. And it wasn’t until we were at the airport that we realized we’d forgotten another major item on our to-do list: the 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake at the Peninsula Grill (www.peninsulagrill.com). It is, quite possibly, the best thing to eat in food-crazed Charleston, says everyone.

Guess we’ll be back for some cake — maybe in springtime, when the temps edge up to the 70s or so. We’ll pack swimsuits for the beach — and a fancy skirt or two. We’re aiming for sassy.

www.explorecharleston.com.

Some Seabrook Island residents call for cap on short-term rentals

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - An ongoing battle over short-term rentals is brewing on Seabrook Island, where homeowners say uncontrolled growth of properties is affecting their quality of life.Homeowners Ted Flerlage and Paul McLaughlin said although they do not want to end short-term rentals on the island, the effects of recent growth have prompted them to call for a cap on short-term rentals.“If you come here in July, around July Fourth, as a resident walking out boardwalk one, let’s say, to north beach, there&rs...

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - An ongoing battle over short-term rentals is brewing on Seabrook Island, where homeowners say uncontrolled growth of properties is affecting their quality of life.

Homeowners Ted Flerlage and Paul McLaughlin said although they do not want to end short-term rentals on the island, the effects of recent growth have prompted them to call for a cap on short-term rentals.

“If you come here in July, around July Fourth, as a resident walking out boardwalk one, let’s say, to north beach, there’s no space, and that is a rental issue,” Flerlage, who has lived on the island since March 2020, said. “That is a noise issue. It is a parking issue because every spot on the limited parking area is taken.”

The two homeowners have spearheaded the Preserve Seabrook effort. A letter sent to residents as part of the effort says concerns “center on the uncontrolled growth of short-term rentals, especially on streets where there are many full-time and private residential properties.”

“We aim to retain a reasonable offering of properties that can be rented by guests who love to visit and vacation on our beautiful island, while ensuring Seabrook does not gradually morph into a resort community,” the letter states. “We believe adding a cap on the number of resort properties on Seabrook would protect the unique qualities of our island while allowing revenue generated through rental properties to continue to flow back to the town through state and county accommodation taxes that the renters pay.”

Over 300 residents have signed a petition to cap the number of short-term rentals on the island, according to McLaughlin.

The petition seeks a single question on the Nov. 2, 2021 ballot that asks if voters support:

“Seabrook, when I bought here in 2002 and built our house here in 2009, it was more like ‘Cheers,’” McLaughlin said. “Everybody knew your name. Now, with the influx of 500 rental properties and growing, it’s changed a lot, and the quality of life on the island has changed a lot.”

Seabrook Island Mayor John Gregg said a petition from those calling for a cap has been sent to a committee, which will conduct a factual inquiry and then report to town council with recommendations.

“The object for the ad hoc committee was to identify inquiries of factual matters that could inform council as it considers whether or not it is warranted to do further regulation,” Gregg said.

The mayor added that to operate a short-term rental on the island, homeowners need to have a business license and a permit from the town.

McLaughlin and Flerlage said they welcome the data-driven effort but want more communication from the town and to work with them on a solution.

“Our question to them: What is the tipping point? If 500 isn’t the tipping point, is it 600? Is it 700? Is it 800? So, in the meantime, we need to figure it out,” McLaughlin said. “We need to halt what’s going on. Everybody keeps what they currently have, and we study the problem, and we figure out what the solution would be. We don’t make the problem worse while continuing to study it.”

“These are people who live in South Carolina and vote in South Carolina who live on the island and vote on the island,” Flerlage said. “These are the people who are their direct constituents – the people who vote for the mayor and the town council. It’s more than 300 of those people who signed up, which is nearly as many as who voted for them in the last election on Nov. 2, and in our opinion, there has been no communication and we’ve been getting fairly short-tripped on the issue.”

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Which SC beach is the safest with the least pollution? The most unsafe? Take a look

Last year, Environment America, a federation of environmental advocacy organizations, ranked the most unsafe beaches in the country based on tests run in 2020.That year, a total of 23 beaches were tested for fecal indicator bacteria in the state of South Carolina.Out of four tested counties in South Carolina, t...

Last year, Environment America, a federation of environmental advocacy organizations, ranked the most unsafe beaches in the country based on tests run in 2020.

That year, a total of 23 beaches were tested for fecal indicator bacteria in the state of South Carolina.

Out of four tested counties in South Carolina, the average percentage of potentially unsafe days in South Carolina by county in 2020 ranked Beaufort County as the second safest.

The four South Carolina counties that were tested were Horry, Charleston, Beaufort and Georgetown counties.

The scoring left Beaufort County with a 12% average number of days with potentially unsafe water for beaches in the county.

Comparatively, Horry County, which contains Myrtle Beach, scored a 34% average for potentially unsafe water for beach days.

Not a title to brag about, South Carolina’s own Myrtle Beach scored number one in the state for the most potentially unsafe swimming days in 2020. The testing conducted in Myrtle Beach resulted in potentially unsafe water 84% of the days tested. This average was a result of 70 potentially unsafe days out of 82 testing days.

Contrarily, North Myrtle Beach scored considerably better than its slightly southern counterpart, coming in at 34%, indicating 29 potentially unsafe days out of 87 testing days.

“While we were not able to pinpoint pollution sources for any particular beach, sewage overflows, stormwater runoff, and manure from factory farms, all contain fecal bacteria,” said John Rumpler, the clean water program director at Environment America.

Hilton Head Island tied for the safest number of days along with Isle of Palms and Seabrook Island, both in Charleston County, with a 20% indicator of potentially unsafe days. This comes from two potentially unsafe days out of 10 testing days.

This comes as no surprise as in 2019, Environment America ranked Beaufort County as a clean beach area yet again. In the study, 28 beaches in Beaufort County were tested, and only seven of those had even one “potentially unsafe” day, the report said.

Each beach in the county was tested for 10 or 11 days. Four of the seven beaches were on Hilton Head Island; two were on Harbor Island; one was on Hunting Island, according to a previous Island Packet report.

As for the 2020 report released last year, Myrtle Beach’s reported 84% of potentially unsafe days was one of the biggest percentages in the study, but not the highest overall in the U.S.

Cole Park in Nueces County, Texas scored a 91% average of potentially unsafe days, being broken down by 62 potentially unsafe days in 2020 out of 68 testing days.

Nye Beach in Lincoln County, Oregon scored a 90% average with nine potentially unsafe days out of 10 different testing days.

This story was originally published September 2, 2022, 5:00 AM.

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