ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCSC) - More than a year after a state bill was passed that would ensure access to some free parking and give the state control of public roads in beach towns, the former mayor and a current councilman from the Isle of Palms say it is an “unprecedented attack upon the SC State Constitution and rule of law.”
Isle of Palms Councilmember Blair Hahn and former Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll sent an open letter to elected officials in the barrier island towns of the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach and Edisto Beach.
In the letter, Hahn and Carroll ask for support to fight back against senate bill S.40, which was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster in May 2021.
“We want the right to rule our community,” Carroll said. “We don’t want Columbia to tell us how to run this island.”
The bill requires free public beach parking, but also may include paid parking on state highways. Those highways have to be in communities that are eligible for beach renourishment funds, which use money to add sand back onto beaches.
Parking only can be restricted by the South Carolina Department of Transportation if they find that restrictions are necessary.
“Parking is not free,” Hahn said. “Parking costs emergency services, police services, fire services, it costs for landscaping for trash pickup. It costs money, somebody’s gotta bear that expense.”
It also requires governments to get approval from the South Carolina Department of Transportation before adding or making changes to state highways.
“It is blatantly illegal, it’s unconstitutional on four different grounds and it has to be stopped,” Hahn said.
Hahn says the Isle of Palms City Council has engaged legal counsel to explore their rights. Hahn says if they cannot negotiate a legal statute by amending or rescinding S.40, then they will go to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Larry Grooms (R- Berkeley). Grooms was not available for an interview at this time.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Isle of Palms Mayor Phillip Pounds said: “The City continues to work with SCDOT to find solutions that are beneficial to our residents and visitors.”
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