MOUNT PLEASANT — Mayor Will Haynie took the oath of office Tuesday, a week after winning roughly two-thirds of the vote in a contest with incumbent Linda Page, who did not attend the Town Hall ceremony.
Haynie, 56, was elected mayor after just two years on Town Council, in an election where the town's rapid pace of development was, Haynie said, the only issue. Haynie's campaign promised an end to traffic and development "disasters."
First-time council members Tom O'Rourke, Kathy Landing and G.M. Whitley were also sworn in for 4-year terms, as was returning council veteran Gary Santos, who was re-elected last week. They join Jim Owens, Joe Bustos and Bob Brimmer, who were elected in the 2015.
At one point during the meeting Haynie asked the council to consider the “adopting of a revolution” but that was just a slip of the tongue. The council was actually considering a routine “resolution” involving law enforcement cooperation.
There was no revolution Tuesday night, but Town Council did revisit a few issues in which Haynie had previously been on the losing side.
One was the issue of landscaped medians planned along part of Coleman Boulevard, as part of an $18 million drainage and traffic improvement plan that's underway. The Coleman Boulevard road work was an issue in the mayoral election.
At least half the current council members would like to eliminate the planned median, although the town's traffic experts said the median would make the road safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
“For pedestrians there’s a nearly 50 percent reduction in crash rates," when center turn lanes are replaced with medians, said Transportation Director Brad Morrison.
Haynie, Santos, Owens and Bustos raised concerns, however.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of push-back about taking away the turn lanes from the middle of the road," said Santos.
Amid concerns that changing the project could jeopardize some of its funding, the council voted 8-0 to have the town's lawyers review the contracts and report back in December.
Another holdover issue was the makeup of the town's Comprehensive Plan Forum, a citizen committee crafting the town's 10-year vision for the future, particularly dealing with development. More than 200 town residents volunteered to serve and more than 30 were chosen without their names revealed, but based upon demographics and the goal of representing all parts of the town.
But when the list came out, the Save Shem Creek group and some council members argued that the people chosen were not concerned enough about development. Bustos suggested at a prior meeting that the committee could end up developing a plan the Town Council would not accept.
In September, a proposal that council members be allowed to each add a person to the Comprehensive Plan committee failed on a 5-4 vote. On Tuesday, a similar proposal to allow each council member to add one person to the committee, from the existing list of volunteers, was approved 6-2.
Councilman Bob Brimmer, a former Planning Commission member, warned in September and on Tuesday that if Town Council got involved, the Comprehensive Plan process would become politicized and public distrust would surely follow. He and Whitley cast the "no" votes.
In other business, the council unanimously gave final approval to rules limiting to 40 percent the portion of properties in one part of town that can be covered by impervious surfaces. The rule applies to single-family detached homes only, in a more than 900-acre area roughly between Ben Sawyer Boulevard and the Charleston Harbor.
The rule, meant to help address stormwater flooding, mirrors a rule already in place in the small Old Village Historic District. The regulation deals with new construction or improvements. For example, if increasing the size of a paved driveway would exceed the 40 percent limit for impervious coverage, the property owner might have to use pavers that let rainwater soak through.