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Public confronts Town Council

  • Thursday, October 10, 2013

Anne Sheehan/Journal Scene Community activist Louis Smith addresses Town Council Wednesday night. He represented one of three groups to confront the council that night.

All of the seats in the Town Hall council chambers were filled Wednesday night as a large group of citizens attended the Summerville Town Council’s October meeting. The numerous speakers during the public comment portion of the meeting presented on three community issues.

March Against Violence

The first group of more than two dozen people gathered around community activist Louis Smith who addressed the council regarding law enforcement. He requested the council work with the police department to create a task force that can reopen cold cases.

The three cases he referred to in particular were those of David Laron Boone, John Elliot Hancock and Don’ta Marquan Pringle.

“These three families are here because they want closure. They feel the police department has let them down,” Smith said.

He also announced an upcoming March Against Violence the group organized for Oct. 20.

“We as a group are tired. We will work with police, we will work with anyone. We will cooperate with all groups to work diligently to solve this problem in our community,” he said.

Smith first announced the March Against Violence at a press conference held before the meeting.

Historic District Safety

The ad hoc Southeast Historic District Homeowners Association, represented by Peter Gorman, also addressed the council at its meeting. Gorman presented the council with a petition requesting the town implement increased safety measures on South Magnolia and Gum streets.

He cited speeding and a high volume of traffic on the roads as the main problem in the area.

“None of us expected to be living on a freeway when we bought our houses,” he said.

The petition had 86 signatures and proposed six action items to the council, including to install stop signs and cross walks along the streets at appropriate intersections to slow and potentially reduce speeding traffic.

Fripp Lane Extension

The overwhelming majority of people at the meeting were residents of the Weatherstone subdivision who asked the council to reconsider the planned extension of Fripp Lane, which would connect the community to the neighboring Palmetto Park subdivision.

Out of the 18 people who addressed the council, 14 spoke in reference to the extension. None of them supported it.

Originally proposed several years ago, the purpose of the extension is to provide a second exit for residents during emergency scenarios such as a hurricane. Although the council did vote to table the proposal in 2010, the current Town Council approved the reintroduced extension in an August 5-1 vote, despite the large number of Weatherstone opponents who also attended that Town Council meeting to protest.

Wednesday the public comment again addressed complaints, citing a decrease in community safety as the reason for their opposition.

Collectively, the public said the extension would turn the street into a throughway, add speeding and traffic problems to the residential neighborhood, endanger the lives of children living there, and invite crime from Palmetto Park into the community.

They too presented the council with a petition, this one with 450 signatures in opposition of the extension.

Not only did the group address their concerns through complaints, but they also proposed alternatives, Varnfield Drive being the most popular.

After imploring the council for a response, Mayor Bill Collins said “the new road is 3-4 years away. If at that time it becomes a problem we can close it as easily as it was opened.”

The crowd did not like his answer and erupted into disapproving chatter.

While the council made no further comment, it apparently did get some councilmembers thinking.

After the council meeting, Councilman Bob Jackson said he will “look into it.”

“The alternatives are something I’d want to consider,” he said.

Councilman Bill McIntosh readily expressed his continued disapproval for the extension; he was the only member who voted against the road in August.

“This is connecting two neighborhoods that don’t want to be connected,” he said.

Councilman McIntosh said he wasn’t sure the council would reconsider the extension in another vote, but “it did happen in 2010. The folks at Weatherstone clearly have a track record of getting noticed.”

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