Kiawah homeowners reject amenities plan, fee

The Kiawah Island Community Association has rejected a plan to upgrade some of the island’s amenities.

KIAWAH ISLAND —The Kiawah Island Community Association has been working on a plan to ensure this resort island’s amenities remain first class, but it now finds itself back at square one.

Most members voting of the Kiawah Island Community Association rejected a plan to increase their assessments by $245 to upgrade the Sandcastle pool and recreation complex.

Fifty-seven percent opposed the increase, while 43 percent voted for it. Turnout was high: About 68 percent of the island’s property owners who could vote did.

The referendum was billed as phase one of a two-step, $16 million process to enlarge and improve the Sandcastle, the association’s main amenities center. The second phase would have been to build a fitness center on a 6.4-acre site on Rhett’s Bluff Road currently used as a boat landing.

The proposal caused an uproar — especially in some online island forums — because many homeowners objected to putting a fitness center on the boat landing site. They said a deed restriction prevents such a use, setting the association up for a potential lawsuit.

The second phase also would have resulted in another $245 increase per year over 15 years. The current assessment rate ranges between $1,500 and $2,000, depending on the property.

Jimmy Bailey, director of the association, said the board won’t meet formally until July, and it’s unclear what, if anything, it will do next.

“I think the board has yet to gather at the same time to discuss this, so I think it’s going to be some time before there are any thoughts as far as next steps, if any,” he said.

The Kiawah Island Community Association maintains almost 1,000 acres of common property on the island. Last month’s referendum was almost a decade in the making, as its governing board began reviewing what should be done to improve its amenities, such as leisure trails, pools, viewing towers and fitness facilities.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.