Students string beads of hope

Hanahan students Quandaisha Porcher (left) and Marlon Denmark string Hope bracelets during their business entrepreneurship class.

MONCKS CORNER — Are water and sewer rates going up again in Berkeley County?

Officials at this point can only say they hope not. That was the message Monday as Berkeley County Council started talking about the new budget.

"We don't foresee any rate increases at this time," Berkeley County Water & Sanitation Community Relations Manager Johanna Cooper said before the meeting. "But it is still early in the process."

Water and sewer rates jumped 30 percent last year as the economic slowdown dried up revenues to finance expansions made during a growth spurt.

More details of the new budget won't be available until council schedules a workshop. The budget will be considered at several more meetings before final approval.

In other business Monday, Council:

• Took another look at a controversial noise ordinance that's up for a public hearing and final approval at the April 27 meeting. It's mainly aimed at noisy car stereos, boom boxes and other nuisances and includes using noise meters to respond to complaints and identify offenders. Several residents also are asking the county to crack down on a noisy junkyard and asphalt plant.

• Gave final approval to an ordinance aimed at developers who cluster houses while claiming wetlands as green space to increase density. Now at least 60 percent of land designated as green space must be high ground. As a result, residents will get more usable parks and walking trails, Deputy Administrator Chip Bolin said before the meeting.