Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last minute budget amendment takes direct aim at North Charleston over rail issue

The following is a response from North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey regarding Senator Larry Grooms’ last minute budget amendment directed at North Charleston over the ongoing rail issue.
Last night, less than an hour before passing the Senate version of the State Budget, which had been debated for five weeks, Senator Larry Grooms added an amendment to punish the City of North Charleston if legal actions against the State are not halted.  Specifically, the amendment demands that the City return funds received from the State of South Carolina if a lawsuit is filed in federal court against the State. 
Last week, North Charleston sent a Notice and Draft Complaint to the Federal government and several State agencies highlighting likely violations of federal environmental laws by the State of South Carolina as a result of a planned intermodal yard on the northern end of the former Navy Base.  The proposed yard and northern rail access are in clear violation of a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding between the City of North Charleston and the State of South Carolina. 
The City seeks to challenge the State in Court, where disputes are supposed to be settled. Senator Grooms’ threat seeks to stop the City from protecting the rights of North Charleston citizens by cutting funding to the City.  His actions go against the fundamental right to challenge government action and call into question the very Constitution that this Country and State were founded upon. 
This amendment and the State’s efforts to dishonor the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding are clear, yet disappointing efforts to damage the quality of life of the citizens of North Charleston. 
These bully tactics will not deter the City of North Charleston from fighting for the rights of its citizens.  I insist that the State of South Carolina do what it morally obligated itself to do and keep its promises. 
R. Keith Summey, Mayor
City of North Charleston
The amendment passed the Senate 25-12 and can be viewed from the South Carolina General Assembly’s website:


Here is a breakdown of which Senators voted for and against the amendment:

The Senate proceeded to Sect. 86 and 86A, Part 1A and Part 1B, Aid to Subdivisions.
The "ayes" and "nays" were demanded and taken, resulting as follows:

Ayes 25; Nays 12
Alexander                 Campbell                  Courson
Cromer                    Davis                     Elliott
Fair                      Gregory                   Grooms
Hayes                     Hutto                     Knotts
Leatherman                Lourie                    Martin, Larry
McGill                    Nicholson                 O'Dell
Peeler                    Rankin                    Reese
Ryberg                    Setzler                   Thomas
Bright                    Bryant                    Ford
Land                      Leventis                  Malloy
Martin, Shane             Massey                    McConnell
Pinckney                  Scott                     Sheheen

Section 86 and Section 86A, Part 1A and Part 1B was adopted.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 Redistricting Public Hearing

On Monday, May 23, 2011, North Charleston city attorney J. Brady Hair gave a presentation on redistricting of North Charleston City Council districts.

The decennial census data allows for the realignment of City Council districts, taking into account population shifts since the last census and assuring equal representation for their constituents in compliance with the "one-person, one-vote" principle of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Free Spay and Neuter for your pets

Stray dogs in the forest
The Charleston Animal Society is offering free spay or neuter operations to residents of North Charleston. In addition, rabies vaccinations will be provided at no cost.

Call (843) 556-7729 to make your appointment. A limited number of free slots are available.

Did you know? In Charleston County, 10,064 homeless pets entered shelters last year and 4,819 were put down. Charleston County shelters cannot save and support the huge number of accidental litters, strays, and family pets brought to shelter doors everyday.

These free surgeries are made possible by generous grants from Charleston Animal Society donors.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

North Charleston City Council redistricting public meetings

In the coming weeks, the City of North Charleston will hold a series of Public Meetings for the general public to review and provide comments on the redrawing of City Council district lines.

It is necessary to "rebalance" district sizes periodically so a vote in one district has the same weight as a vote in all others. The Census, which counts population every 10 years, typically reveals population shifts resulting in varying council district sizes. In turn, the Census allows for the accurate drawing of new map lines based on those shifts.

Also, according to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, election plans are required to be drawn in a way that is fair to minorities. Section 5 of the Act requires that select states (including South Carolina) get "pre-clearance" from the US Justice Department or Federal Court before making any official change to its election plan.

Copies of the draft map will be displayed throughout the City at City Hall, community centers, churches, and on the city’s website, here:

Citizens can also submit comments online from the webpage mentioned above.

Below you will find a schedule of Public Meetings:

Monday, May 23, 6:00 pm
North Charleston City Hall, Council Chambers
Tuesday, May 24, 6:30 pm
Chicora Elementary School Auditorium
Tuesday, May 31, 6:30 pm
Ft. Dorchester High School Cafeteria
Wednesday, June 1, 6:30 pm
Lambs Elementary School Cafeteria
Thursday, June 2, 6:30 pm
Northwoods Community Center Gym

The City hopes to have First Reading of the Council District Ordinance at the Thursday, June 9, 2011 City Council Meeting and Final Reading at the Thursday, June 23, 2011 City Council Meeting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

North Charleston to take further legal action to halt northern rail access

On May 17, 2011, the City of North Charleston sent a Notice and Draft Complaint to various state and federal officials to precede the filing of a lawsuit in federal court over the ongoing rail issue. Unless a resolution that is not detrimental to the citizens of North Charleston can be reached, a lawsuit will be officially filed in 60 days.

News coverage
Post and Courier
North Charleston to sue over rail line plan
North Charleston gives notice: Clock ticking on plan to sue over rail issue
Charleston Regional Business Journal
City lawsuit to challenge memorandum with state
City plans to file suit in rail argument
SC City Says it Will Sue if Rail Terminal Proceeds
SC city says it will sue if rail terminal proceeds

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Watson Hill legal battle over

Watson Hill remains within the City of North Charleston

Watson Hill tract highlighted in green

After a protracted legal battle, litigation over the Watson Hill tract annexation has concluded.  No further legal challenges remain outstanding and the tract shall remain a part of the City of North Charleston.  The City, property owner MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV), and the Coastal Conservation League (CCL) all look forward to the property becoming a national example of productive land use accomplished with sensitivity to its natural beauty, environment, and neighbors.

On June 7, 2005, North Charleston City Council voted to annex five vacant parcels located on Highway 61 and 165 in Dorchester County, including the Watson Hill tract.  The annexation immediately met legal opposition, and a portion of the case was heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court (See Opinion No. 26492), before the dispute ultimately concluded with the property becoming confirmed territory of the City of North Charleston.  Watson Hill is currently a part of MWV’s acclaimed East Edisto master plan.

North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey stated, “I am very happy to see an end to the dispute over the annexation of Watson Hill.  Although initial concerns over the annexation were ones of land use, I believe that with award winning and publicly recognized projects such as Oak Terrace Preserve, the Montague Avenue revitalization, and various parks / preserves, North Charleston has proven itself during my administration to be a leader in sustainable practices and development.  The City welcomes the opportunity to further our vision of sustainable, green, and smart growth by teaming with Lowcountry residents, MWV, and the Coastal Conservation League.  Together, we can ensure Watson Hill becomes another area of great pride in the City of North Charleston.”  Mayor Summey continued, “I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the diligent work of Julie Elmore and Raymond Anderson, Special Assistants to the Mayor, and the City’s legal staff, Brady Hair and Derk Van Raalte to resolve this annexation suit.  We are fortunate to have these dedicated individuals serving the people of North Charleston.”

Coastal Conservation Director, Dana Beach, said, "Our driving concern for Watson Hill was the potential for four thousand or more houses on the property.  We are confident that the plan proposed by MeadWestvaco, which includes perpetual conservation easements on the majority of the tract, will protect the integrity of the Ashley River historic district.  The critical goal has always been land conservation, not jurisdictional control."

In recent years, the City of North Charleston has received a number of accolades and recognition highlighting its sustainable practices, including the Home Depot Foundation’s Award of Excellence for Sustainable Community Development and the National League of Cities Award for Municipal Excellence for Sustainable Urban Development.  In addition, Oak Terrace Preserve, a city development was named one of the nation’s Top Green Developments according to Green Builder Magazine and was named one of the nation’s leading projects by renowned ‘green’ expert Jerry Yudelson.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Public planning effort for Boeing and neck areas

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) invites all residents of Charleston and North Charleston to participate in the Partnership for Prosperity planning effort to shape the future of tri-county region's core area between the new Boeing complex in North Charleston and US 17- Crosstown in Charleston.   The first Community Forum to launch this planning effort will be held Thursday, May 19, 2011 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Military Magnet Academy, located at 2950 Carner Avenue.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, who chairs the BCDCOG, reflected on the importance of this partnership and its planning effort, citing the growing attractiveness of the region to new businesses and residents. “The opportunities in and around the Neck area are great,” said Summey. “The challenge is generational, and we are laying that groundwork for change today. As we create value, we change the concept of how this vital area is perceived.”

According to BCDCOG planner Jeff Burns, the study is a great opportunity for community members to work together shaping the future for themselves and their children.   “What do we want the core of our entire region to look like in 10 years - 25 years- 50 years? And how can we leverage public dollars with private investments to reach the goals of this area spanning two municipalities?”

Building on several local and regional planning efforts conducted over the past few years, the Partnership for Prosperity master planning effort provides an opportunity to gather the various ideas and initiatives into a coherent strategy for development that supports community character and vitality.

At the May 19th forum, staff from the BCDCOG and a consultant team headed by Renaissance Planning Group will ask participants to help identify the strengths of the region, including places they want to preserve and opportunities for growth and change. “It’s important for us to take a fresh look at what’s truly special about this area so we can capitalize on its best assets,” said Burns. “The Neck area and its surrounds feature a unique blend of industry, community, history, and nature. We need to capitalize on these assets in order to build – and rebuild – its communities into places that people cherish.”

Summey urged the leaders and citizens of Charleston and North Charleston to use this opportunity to truly form a “partnership for prosperity” in this vital core area for growth. “The goal is unification of the two cities around positive economic change. We no longer live in isolation. Every area has a direct effect on its neighbors, and there is a direct tie-in economically for the whole region by changing areas in a positive way.”

For more information about the May 19th Community Forum or the Partnership for Prosperity initiative, visit the BCDCOG website at, contact Jeff Burns at (843) 529-0400 or

Monday, May 9, 2011

USAF Heritage of America Band to Present Free Concert in North Charleston

Performance presented in Honor of Armed Forces Day

The United States Air Force Heritage of America Concert Band, from Langley AFB, VA, will recognize Armed Forces Day with a memorable evening of musical entertainment at the Sterett Hall Auditorium on the former Charleston Naval Base on Saturday, May 21, 2011, at 7:00 pm. The 90 minute concert will feature the full 50-piece orchestra and includes John Philip Sousa’s military and patriotic marches as well as heritage themed musical selections.

The Concert Band is the largest musical component of the USAF Heritage of America Band. Formed in 1941, the band entertains one million people each year in over 500 performances. They have performed for several Presidents of the United States, the President of France, and the Queen of England. Additionally, the band has been presented numerous mayoral proclamations and has earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and the Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence Award.

The Armed Forces Day concert is free, but advance tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Tickets, City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, PO Box 190016, North Charleston, SC, 29419-9016. Please limit 6 tickets per mail-in request. Tickets are also available for pick up Monday through Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm, from the North Charleston Cultural Arts Dept. office on the 2nd floor of North Charleston City Hall, located at 2500 City Hall Lane, North Charleston, SC 29406. Unclaimed seats will be available to non-ticket holders 15 minutes prior to concert time.

For more information, contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843) 740.5854 or email

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

North Charleston Arts Festival Concludes with Grand Finale on May 7

Public invited to enjoy free performances, kid’s activities, and fireworks

Arts Festival Grand Finale

The North Charleston Arts Festival Grand Finale will take place on Saturday, May 7, 2011, from 6:00-9:00pm at North Charleston Riverfront Park, located at 1001 Everglades Avenue on the former Charleston Naval Base.  The public is invited to attend this grand celebration of the arts featuring dance presentations, choral performances by Tri-county schools, an evening concert, kid’s activities, food, and fireworks to mark the close of the 2011 North Charleston Arts Festival. Admission and parking are free.
Festivities begin at 6:00pm with events in every area of the park.  Audiences may enjoy The Poetry Show from 6:00-8:00pm at the site of the Navy Base Memorial, featuring spoken word and poetry recitations by locally renowned poets and youth poets from the Speak Freely Foundation. At the park’s boardwalk area, patrons will have the opportunity to see shag, Afro-Latino, and salsa dance demonstrations and try out some of the moves with local dance professionals. The Amphitheater Stage will host choral performances by students from Pinehurst Elementary (6:00-6:15pm), Pepperhill Elementary (6:15-6:30pm), Alston Middle School (6:30-7:00pm), and Cane Bay High School (7:00-7:30pm). School performances will be followed by a presentation of Polynesian dances, including a Maori fire dance, by the Kai Polynesian Dance Troupe. The Fowl Play Band will get the crowd grooving with a blend of beach, classic rock, Motown, and contemporary hits at 8:00pm.

Fowl Play Band
Other attractions throughout the park include inflatable jump castles, roving entertainment by The Interactive Theater of Jef, and the newly installed National Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition. The evening ends with a fantastic fireworks display over the Cooper River by Zambelli Fireworks at 9:00pm. Food concessions will be available for purchase. Bring blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy a great ending to this year’s North Charleston Arts Festival!
Selected by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event, this is the 29th year of the festival, which began as a small community event at Park Circle and has grown into one of the most comprehensive arts festivals in the state.  The event includes nine days of cultural activities and programs in every arts discipline for the public to enjoy.  Some festival offerings have a modest ticket price, but most are free of charge and parking is free at all locations.

For more information about the Grand Finale or any other 2011 North Charleston Arts Festival events, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at 843-740-5854 or visit

North Charleston Arts Festival presents Annual Street Dance

Evening of music & dance to take place May 6 in Olde Village Area

Olde Village Street Dance

The Olde Village section of East Montague Avenue in North Charleston will be transformed into a dance floor on Friday, May 6, 2011, for the North Charleston Arts Festival’s annual Olde Village and Reggae Street Dances. East Montague Avenue will be closed to traffic from O’Hear Avenue to Chateau Avenue beginning at 5:00pm and the event will take place from 6:30-10:00pm. Admission and parking are free.

Boogie down to a variety of tunes from pop, rock, R&B, jazz, and beach played by the five members of Congdon & Co. from 6:30-8:00pm. The group has shared the stage with nationally known acts such as Gary U.S. Bonds, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Eddie Floyd. The night will roll on from dance floor tunes to island vibes from 8:30-10:00pm with Da' Gullah Rootz bringing Gullah and Geechee styles together in an original mix. For the last seven years, the group has seamlessly intermingled ska, rub-a-dub, lovers rock, toasting, and dancehall flavors into the most original reggae "riddems" in music today. Enjoy a lively performance of Afro-Latino dances by Buen Aché Dance Co. during the break between street dance bands from 8:00-8:30pm.

For more information about the Street Dances or any other 2011 North Charleston Arts Festival events, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at 843-740-5854 or visit

Monday, May 2, 2011

North Charleston Arts Festival presents Annual Art Walk

Evening of Art & Music to take place May 4 in Olde Village Area
Take a stroll in the Olde Village area of East Montague Avenue through businesses, pubs, studios, and salons to see works by local artists during the North Charleston Arts Festival Art Walk on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. Admission and parking are free.

Original art, fine crafts, and photography, ranging from traditional to contemporary, will be displayed in the common areas of participating businesses from 5:00-8:00 pm. Exhibiting artists include Arianne King Comer, Caroline Echols, Sara Evers, Karen Gaag, Philip Hyman, Lori Starnes Isom, Keller Lee, Michele Levani, Drew Pederson, Nicole Rath, Sylivia Shorter, and students from the Charleston County School of the Arts.

Enjoy live music by Lime and the Coconuts (ukulele/swing/folk) and Lane Gregory (bluegrass/folk/Americana) throughout the evening. Command Performance Productions and Karen DeLoach will host a screening of original short films by Lowcountry student filmmakers from 6:00-7:00pm at the Olde Village Community Building, located at 4820 Jenkins Avenue. Second Sundays at Seven, a writers’ and actors’ workshop, will take place from 5:00-7:00pm at South of Broadway Theater, located at 1080 East Montague Avenue. In addition, artists participating in the annual Art & Fine Craft Co-Op Gallery at the Meeting Place, 1077 East Montague Avenue, will host a public reception during the Art Walk. Other attractions include face painting and live artist demonstrations. It’s an evening of art and culture for the whole family!

For more information about the Art Walk or any other 2011 North Charleston Arts Festival events, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at (843) 740-5854 or visit