October 2018

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

A Note from David Bennett
A Change of Plans

We stood prepared for Hurricane Florence last month and breathed a collective sigh of relief when she missed. We’re grateful for the efforts of our fine Emergency Operations to ready us, and also for the courageous and generous islanders who rushed to bring help to those impacted. The fact remains that we were ready, just as we were for Irma last year and Matthew the year before. Since October is still hurricane season, it’s comforting to know that we have a plan—one that is reevaluated and improved after every event and before each new season.

Of course, good planning is helpful beyond crisis preparedness. And September’s only Town Council meeting revealed again that our island’s process for planning and development is not ready for October and beyond. See just how beneficial an overhaul could be by visiting the town’s website and observing the difficulties of applying the Comprehensive Plan and the Land Management Ordinance (LMO) to produce an acceptable result to a rezoning request—a result ensuring that the heritage and character of our island is preserved in the future by any development today. And take note of one citizen’s remarks during “Appearance by Citizens” that reflect the current gap.

Fortunately, we’ve created a tool to serve as a catalyst. To those who care not for the title, call it what you want, but the final product of Phase I of Hilton Head Island — Our Future resulted in an extensive report that reflects the passions of 3,000 islanders for the place we call home. It was overseen by a vigilant project management team and orchestrated by project lead Emily Sparks, in coordination with futureIQ and staff.

What concepts can we extract from its pillars to align our planning with our values? Consider some of these:

• “Seek to apply (or create) best-in-class standards for all major projects.”
• “Community engagement sessions revealed that there is a deep desire for Hilton Head Island to be great, not merely good.”
• “Sustainability is a cornerstone of the Hilton Head Island history and brand. There is enormous interest and potential in this topic area that could improve the community, economy, and quality of life.”
• “Explore the ‘Future of Tourism.’”
• “Build relevance to young professionals.”
• “Healthy aging economy … opportunities in healthcare, healthy aging, and active retiree support.”
• “Many of the ideas about how to diversify the local economy involve creating more of a ‘circular economy,’ which includes the concept of capturing more of the value locally. This includes leveraging more tourism-related activity around local assets and focusing on revitalization and renewal.”

We can incorporate precise high-quality standards and measurements into our planning process. We can reconstitute our Comprehensive Plan, modify our LMO and develop a Master Plan for areas of the island that aren’t already subject to Planned Unit Development agreements. We can preserve the heritage and character of our island, while making significant progress in addressing our needs.

Many of our citizens and organizations identified these pillars beforehand, and others have since adopted some of them. The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra’s new Sound Waves venue that will diversify its audiences and the Outside Foundation’s Oyster Recycling and Reef Build Initiative that will create environmental sustainability are but two examples of multitudes!

October’s plans must also include due diligence for November’s election. Why aren’t more candidates for local leadership talking about Visioning? It’s not a matter of life and death like a natural disaster could be. Its value may have been diminished by a combination of fear and misrepresentation. But just as sure as a hurricane or storm surge could strike, we can count on the negative impact of unplanned growth. The answer to controlling growth begins with implementing the Vision’s pillars and strategies into our planning process.

It’s nice to talk about Charles Fraser’s vision, Hilton Head Island’s future, and consensus- building. But it will take more than talk to change the way we continue to grow. It will take changes in our planning process to fill the gap between what we value and what we produce—to create harmony between our town resources, our elected officials and our citizens and businesses.

When we plan for emergencies and anticipated life changes, we visualize the outcomes we desire. The process is the same for our town, its leaders, businesses and citizens. Let’s get prepared. If we do, we will all benefit, and future generations will be grateful.


A Note from Lisa Sulka
Get Social, Stay Informed

Most everyone at every age is on social media. Whether you dabble in multiple venues or have your favorite platform, please join the conversation with town staff and leaders by using our social media venues. With today’s fast-moving pace, these platforms are the quickest and most efficient way for you to stay informed and for town staff and leaders to learn what is on your mind.

The town uses these platforms daily. Facebook proved to be invaluable during the last two storms, Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Irma. With conditions rapidly changing and the information streaming faster than water from a fire hydrant, social media was our most efficient way to deliver minute by minute information to our residents.

The town also distributes information from other government agencies on social media. If information affects Bluffton—such as road lane closures and roadwork alerts—the town regularly posts this information so folks can make adjustments to their commutes or driving patterns. Media releases are also regularly published on social media, so if you don’t have an opportunity to scan your local paper daily, you can still receive news about the progress and status of town projects, policies and procedures.
You, as our resident, have a crucial voice in the decisions Town Council makes, and social media is the best way to be a part of those conversations. Below is a list of the town’s social media platforms. Please join us!

Facebook: Please “like” the following pages, which are a part of the Town of Bluffton: Town of Bluffton Government, Bluffton Police Department and Don Ryan Center for Innovation.

Instagram: Populated with videos and photos of Bluffton, this phone-based platform is a fast way to enjoy beautiful photos of our town, along with short videos from town leaders. Again, there are separate accounts for the town, the Bluffton Police Department and Don Ryan Center.

Twitter: If you prefer your information via Twitter, you can find us at TownofBluffton, BlufftonPolice and @DonRyanCenter.

You Tube: This is the least-used town site, however, I invite you to “follow” this channel and use it to help spread the good news about our town. For example, the town recently produced an economic development video, which gives an overview of the town and explains why a company may want to relocate here. It is a wonderful tool; there are three versions of this video, one is five minutes long, another is 90 seconds and the last one is 60 seconds in length. Use the one that best suits your audience. There are various others videos on this channel, ranging from the Garvin-Garvey House to Bluffton’s oyster industry. Please view these videos, and feel free to share them with your colleagues and friends.

Next Door: The Bluffton Police Department is also active on this platform so it can deliver information targeted to specific neighborhoods.

Let Us Know what You Think ...

commenting closed for this article