March 2011

MARCH 2011: Mayor - Hilton Head and Bluffton

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Hilton Head Island Mayor

Have I Got A Deal For You
Here’s an offer you can’t refuse: Hard work, no pay.

Okay. Maybe you can refuse the offer, but let me explain why you shouldn’t. Your Town government cannot operate, on many levels, without you. One of the most critical functions we perform is the operation of our volunteer-based committee system. We have seven standing committees that are composed of citizen volunteers.

We have several vacancies coming up due to expiring terms. Here’s how the process works: Residents fill out a “talent bank” application. Applications are available online at; at Town Hall between the hours of 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; or by fax through the town clerk—call 341-4604. The Town Council Personnel Committee, composed of three members of council, reviews the applications and then interviews selected candidates. Recommendations are then made to the full council for appointment. Committee terms are for three years.

Here is a brief description of what role each committee serves:

1. Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee. Reviews applications and makes recommendations to Town Council about disbursement of accommodations tax funds.

2. Board of Zoning Appeals. Hears and reviews Land Management Ordinance (LMO)-related appeals, variances, and special-exception use applications.

3. Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals. Considers variances from standard building code and hears appeals from the building official.

4. Design Review Board. Considers aesthetics and design applications along designated corridors.

5. Parks and Recreation Commission. Makes recommendations to Town Council for the establishment of an effective parks & recreational system for the Town.

6. Planning Commission. Prepares and updates comprehensive plan; reviews all proposed zoning changes, public projects, and traffic impact applications.

7. Disaster Recovery Commission. Makes recommendations to Town Council for improvements to the disaster recovery plan and disaster public education and readiness.

Ward Kirby, chairman of the Disaster Recovery Committee, shares his experience: “It’s a privilege to be on the Town’s Disaster Recovery Commission. I felt I had the necessary skills to serve when I read about the creation of the commission and applied. Along with giving back to the Town, I’ve worked with a group of dedicated citizens who serve with me and a knowledgeable and skilled Town staff who assist in our deliberations and recommendations.”

So, why should you join us? You care about Hilton Head Island, and you want to weigh in on issues like the airport, redevelopment, design standards and our parks and recreation system. Who better to help us enhance our quality of life than our residents? So fill out an application and let us hear from you.


Bluffton Mayor

Lucky To Live In Bluffton
I always tell new residents how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place as Bluffton, SC, as I cannot imagine any other town as nice as ours. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful amenities around us, starting with the May River. But we are also close to so many other necessities—20 minutes from the beaches of Hilton Head Island, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, Beaufort and Savannah Ga., to name just a few.

Over the past couple of months, we have also seen an uptick in the economy: Building permits have increased, residential re-sales are on the rise, and new business opportunities are knocking on our doors.

At a recent town council meeting, the announcement came that a new family entertainment center will be constructed at Buckwalter Place—a $7 million project. The main feature will be a state-of- the-art bowling center with the latest digital technology available. The company’s goal is to establish their corporate headquarters in Bluffton and to continue to develop the software.

On the heels of this announcement comes news that several medical ventures are also coming into town. A brief presentation was made at last month’s council meeting. Headed up by Brian Cain and Elizabeth Lamkin, Pace Healthcare will be a comprehensive post-acute care facility. This business will bring hundreds of jobs to our area, and will be a great partner in the type of industry that Bluffton is looking for.

This is a great month in Bluffton, beginning with the re-opening of our farmers market. Located on Calhoun Street, you will once again be able to pick up local produce and other items every Thursday. This is an event you will not want to miss, so come early and stay late. More information can be found online at This is a very informative website, including information on the types of produce you can find in this part of the country as well as a calendar of events.

Have a great spring and come and see why Bluffton is so special to so many people.

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