FOLLY BEACH -- Dogs were banned from a section of the beach, limits were slapped on "rogue" towing companies, and a plan to ban Styrofoam from the beach was sent back to the drawing board, at a meeting of City Council.
The ban on dogs and other domestic animals applies immediately at the northeastern end of Folly Beach, an undeveloped area known for a former Coast Guard base. The property is owned by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, and it is not open to the public, but the adjacent beach is public, as are all South Carolina beaches.
The city has declared both the PRC property and the beach, "a protected area for birdlife in general and particularly for all shorebirds."
The ordinance was unanimously given final approval Tuesday. It states: "There shall be no domestic animals whatsoever allowed starting at the gate on the east end of Folly Beach and continuing on the entire parcel known as the Old Coast Guard Base and below and above the high tide line."
The county PRC has owned the land since 1989 but has not taken steps to improve it. A draft master plan commissioned by the PRC and completed last year called for eventually building a staffed interpretive center, parking lot, and boardwalk trails, and proposed that dogs should be allow on the site only when leashed.
Tom O'Rourke, director of the PRC, said Wednesday the commission pushed for the ban on dogs and other domestic animals. "One of the things we are trying to educate the public on is that nesting shorebirds and dogs don't mix," he said.
After taking steps to protect birds from dogs, City Council passed two ordinances aimed at protecting people from unscrupulous towing companies. The first of the two ordinances begins: "City Council finds in many instances when a vehicle is towed from private property without the owner's knowledge or consent that vehicle owners are at the complete mercy of the tow truck operators and as such, are subjected to instances of price gouging and other overly stringent requirements for the return of their vehicles."
The ordinance lays out six pages of regulations that include a requirement that towing companies have city permits, and sets a maximum towing charge of $150. A similar ordinance deals with companies that immobilize vehicles with a "boot" device, also requiring permits and setting top charges.
City Council was also scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would have prohibited Styrofoam, including Styrofoam coolers and cups, from city beaches. However, the issue was postponed at the request of Councilman Eddie Ellis, and will next be discussed at work session Sept. 8.
The ordinance offers an explanation for the proposed ban, stating that "these products break into tiny pieces all over the beach and make it difficult to pick up and when said Styrofoam is washed into the ocean, it poisons the fish; and ... it takes Styrofoam a million years to decompose, which is not good for our environment."