March 2013

March 2013: Mayors

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

Are You Up for the Challange?

“Engaging in activities devoid of difficulty, lounging in risk-free zones, is life without great meaning.”—Jon M. Huntsman, Sr.

For those of you who may fit into this category, I have a possible solution: Come work with the Town of Hilton Head Island as a volunteer on one of our boards and commissions. By doing so, you will realize greater meaning in your life because the issues, challenges, opportunities, and problems you will be working on will make your island a better place to live. Perhaps you are retired or working and want to participate in more meaningful endeavors. As a town board or commission member, you could, for example, be part of making recommendations to Town Council on issues ranging from making new or amended land management laws to suggesting park designs. The work, our much-appreciated board and commission members do, enhance our island’s international reputation.

“There is always a gift in any challenge.”—Bronnie Ware

For your hard, challenging work as a board or commission member, the “gift” is not monetary, but it should amount to a tangible sense of accomplishment. It does because you may be reviewing significant projects like the changes at the Mall at Shelter Cove, or you may be weighing in on the opportunities to re-create the Coligny Beach area. When these two projects are completed, imagine a few years from now telling a visitor, “I had a role in that event park, or I had a role in a new Coligny Circle.” So the “gift” doesn’t pay the bills, but perhaps there is a deeper meaning to be realized by helping your town enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors.

Here is a list and brief description of our boards and commissions and available positions (July 2013):

1. Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee. Reviews applications and makes recommendations to Town Council about disbursement of accommodations tax funds (1 vacancy).
2. Board of Zoning Appeals. Hears and reviews Land Management Ordinance (LMO)-related appeals, variances, and special-exception use applications (2 vacancies).
3. Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals. Considers variances from standard building code and hears appeals from the building official (3 vacancies).
4. Design Review Board. Considers aesthetics and design applications along designated corridors (No vacancies).
5. Parks and Recreation Commission. Makes recommendations to Town Council for the establishment of an effective parks & recreational system for the town (1 vacancy).
6. Planning Commission. Prepares and updates Comprehensive Plan; reviews all proposed zoning changes, public projects, and traffic impact applications (2 vacancies).

Apply today! Applications are available online at; at Town Hall; or by calling the town clerk, (843) 341-4604.

Public Voices for Public Projects

Engaged citizens beget better government, and nowhere is that more true than at the local level. In the Town of Bluffton, elected officials and staff members actively seek input from residents and other people who have a stake in our activities. To solicit feedback, we use a wide range of tools, such as community outreach, face-to-face meetings, visits to special events, public hearings, public comments at town council meetings, “Contact Us” links on the town website, Facebook, and more.

Public input is important, not just at the policy level, but also at the operations level. Our Engineering & Public Works Department is charged with the operation & maintenance of town facilities as well as the design and construction of new public projects. This department constructs parks, buildings, sewer, sidewalk, and roads; but the most important thing they build is “community.” Since they are constructing the future of this town, they love to hear from the citizens they serve.

There are many examples where individuals and stakeholder groups have helped plan these public projects. A public workshop and citizen feedback provided invaluable input on DuBois Park, and key elements have been (or soon will be) implemented. Features installed or in the planning stage include a pavilion with restrooms, a large open lawn area, parking, and playground equipment. In fact, the recent installation of public Wi-Fi access at the park is an example of a good idea that we are testing as part of a public project.

Oyster Factory Park is another example of the power of citizen input, and this multi-phase project has benefited from the various ideas submitted directly by residents, during public workshops, or through stakeholder meetings. The stormwater protection measures, pavilion, oyster roast tables, and other features were all discussed in these sessions. In fact, private citizens, led by the Rotary Club of Bluffton, volunteered to build the oyster tables with materials provided by the town.

Of course, not every idea can be implemented, and sometimes people submit competing or conflicting ideas. However, it is so important to hear the different ideas and perspectives so that town officials can make informed decisions regarding the planning, design, and potential funding of these public projects.

There are opportunities year-round to make your voice heard regarding these capital projects, and there will be several public meetings in the next couple of months where citizen input can be offered. For example, the Planning Commission will review public projects under the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at its March 27 meeting. At the town council meeting in March, there will be an assessment of community needs, and public input is welcomed. Of course, we have two public comment sessions at every town council meeting, so feel free to make your voice heard.

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