ISLE OF PALMS S.C. - Dorchester County passed a resolution in support of a bill in the state senate that would ensure free parking and state control along public roads in beach towns.
Dorchester County joins a growing list of other Lowcountry counties and cities sending similar messages to the state.
“On behalf of our citizens, we do want to see access remain free and unrestricted,” Dorchester County Council Chairman Bill Hearn said.
Hearn said it’s unusual for counties and cities to publicly declare their position on legislation, but he said he believes public beach access is something that hits close to home for many across the Lowcountry.
“You don’t see it happen a lot,” Hearn said. “The three counties, I think, are on the same accord in wanting to see that happen knowing full well that will be up to the individual municipalities to decide how they choose to go on this issue.”
Berkeley County, Charleston County and Mount Pleasant have all released public statements in support.
Last week, North Charleston also passed a resolution publicly backing the bill, S.40, introduced by state senator Larry Grooms.
“To show support for North Charleston beach-going citizens, City Council passed a resolution to urge the passage of Senate Bill 40,” North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said in a statement. “Maintaining access to our region’s public beaches and natural amenities continues to be a part of the quality of life that all residents should have the opportunity to enjoy.”
Grooms said although the towns and counties have no jurisdiction surrounding parking in beach communities, he is glad to see municipalities make official efforts to support the statewide push.
“I do believe that some of the right of ways on the city, the Isle Palms, should remain residential,” Grooms said. “But there has to be consideration for the general public and there has to be public access to the beach.”
The bill, introduced in January, is on hold in the senate, Grooms said, while lawmakers await negotiations between the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the Isle of Palms.
We held the bill pending good faith negotiations between the DOT and the City of Isle of Palms,” Grooms said. “As long as they’re making progress towards a reasonable parking plan that allows for free parking and public access to our beaches, we will continue to hold the bill.”
Grooms said he wants to see some sort of compromise or movement with his bill before the busy summer months.
Dorchester County councilmembers voted to pass their resolution during their meeting Monday night.