MOUNT PLEASANT — Mayor Will Haynie addressed the town's rapid population increase and commended the work of emergency workers Tuesday night in his first State of the Town address.
Haynie focused on the current shape of Mount Pleasant and returned multiple times to reasons why the town had made headlines recently. He highlighted the relatively rapid growth and proposed a return to a building permit allocation system to address it. The proposal received applause from the room.
"We have seen the unintended consequences of not restricting growth and it is not pretty," Haynie said.
Haynie, who served on the Town Council for two years prior to being elected mayor in November, structured his speech into three sections: where the town was located, who made up its citizenship and where the town was going. He commended the decision of the Transportation Committee to rule against an extension of Long Point Road that would cross over historic Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens and urged the rest of the council to vote similarly later in the night.
He referenced the three "Palmetto Principles" of protection, planning and restoration. Haynie managed to quote both C.S. Lewis and the Doobie Brothers — the latter of which he said he may have referenced for the first time in a Mount Pleasant State of the Town address.
"The Doobie Brothers said, 'What the people need is a way to make them smile,'" Haynie said. "'It ain't so hard to do if you know how.'"
He used the lyrics from the song "Listen to the Music" to look forward to a Mount Pleasant that is free of congestion and flooding.
The rapid population spike, Haynie said, was inversely correlated with the town resident's quality of life.
Haynie advocated for the proposed widening of S.C. Highway 41. At the public comment section that followed some town residents said this would encroach on property that had been in their family for generations and would deny them the ability to pass it down in the future.
He said short-term rentals, left unregulated, were the biggest threat to affordable housing in the community. Two people spoke at the public comment session urging the council to reconsider this position.
He also used the address to announce the creation of a Mayor’s Panel of Economic and Business Advisers which will help the town as it focuses on key industries.
Haynie urged the room to buy and eat local shrimp and relayed a Shem Creek resident's comment to him that if the shrimping industry based in Shem Creek dwindled too low, the area would look like "every other marina from Myrtle Beach to South Florida."
"We will restore our shrimping fleet to prominence," Haynie said.