Circuit Judge Markley Dennis Jr. has signed a 22-page order saying that a resident-driven ordinance that sought a referendum on the new Sullivan's Island Elementary School was defective for five reasons.

"The town had no obligation to adopt the initiated ordinance or to conduct a referendum," the order said, adding, "The town did not violate any rights of the plaintiffs."

Rutledge Young III, attorney for the residents who battled for a smaller school, said, "We are disappointed with the court's ruling. We believe that the Town Council on Sullivan's Island overstepped its authority and violated the resident voters' rights."

Attorney Trenholm Walker, who represented the town, said while the court ultimately decides if such an ordinance is valid, the town acted properly.

"He basically said council was not required to conduct a referendum," he said, adding if council members determined that a proposed referendum is invalid, "then they have no obligation to move ahead and conduct a vote."

Town Council's decision can be overruled in court, but that wasn't this case here.

"The ruling affirms council's views that this was improper, that the legal opinions they relied on were correct," Walker said.

As for a possible appeal, Young said, "We are reviewing all options." It's unclear what an appeal might accomplish. The new school is almost finished and set to open in August.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.