Charleston County Administrator Kurt Taylor headed up a group of County officials at a meeting called by Charleston Councilwoman Anna Johnson
County Combats Confusion
Rep. Johnson, County Staffers reach out to unincorporated James Island
By Charlie Morrison
It doesn’t take a cartographer to tell that, geographically speaking, the fourth incorporated Town of James Island is but a shadow of its former self.
The Town won the seemingly incessant court battle regarding the legality of its establishment, but the victory ultimately came at a cost — much of the Town’s footprint. What was lost in the creation of the now permanent Town of James Island was a collection of neighborhoods many consider to be integral to the very fabric of the island — the neighborhoods of Sol Legare, Grimball Road, and Riverland Terrace. The areas were relegated to the status of unincorporated Charleston County with the creation of the new Town, creating much in the way of confusion.
Through an effort spearheaded by Charleston County Councilwoman Anna Johnson last week, the County reached out to the unincorporated communities. And as evidenced by the cavalcade of County representatives on hand last Monday at the Elijah Masonic Lodge on Folly Road, all hands are on deck with regards to the County filling the void of providing services lost with the dissolution of the third incorporated Town of James Island.
The agenda of the meeting was simple. Councilwoman Johnson and County Administrator Kurt Taylor wanted re-introduce to the many citizens of unincorporated Charleston County the various County departments that affect them, namely building inspection services, community services, public works, and zoning and planning.
The County now serves the majority of the island, not only the newly-unincorporated areas left by the void by the significantly reduced footprint of the Town of James Island, but the very Town itself. Last month the County and Town entered into a contract in which the County will provide a number of Town services on a case-by-case basis. The growing role of the County on the island prompted Charleston County District 8 Representative Johnson to call last Monday’s meeting.
Spirited, occasionally tense, but always with an undercurrent of good humor, the meeting was typically James Island. Councilwoman Johnson, the de-facto host of the discussion, made the County’s agenda intentions clear right off the bat. “Charleston County will be your first line of government,” said Johnson in setting the table for the meeting. “We want you to feel like the County is here to serve you.”
In furthering that agenda, Johnson and County Administrator Kurt Taylor proceeded to introduce a series of representatives from the various departments that now serve a significant portion of James Island. Before introducing his staff, however, Taylor addressed the packed house at the Lodge. “Let me echo some of what Ms. Johnson said, we know as Charleston County government employees that we don’t exist except for to help the citizens of Charleston County,” said Taylor. “If there weren’t citizens or the need for a government we wouldn’t have our jobs, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we love to do. We’re happy to come out any time to speak to neighborhood groups on anything the County does … we’ve got a lot of thing we do that touch your lives.”
Representatives from 10 County departments presented themselves to the attendees of the meeting, each providing a rundown of what their respective department does and answering questions from the audience. Representatives from the County’s Building Inspection Services, Community Services, Consolidated Dispatch Center, Environmental Management, Planning, and Public Works departments were amongst the seeming army of County staffers on hand for the meeting to highlight County services.
The issue of the evening was confusion, as evidenced by the peppering of questions County officials received, not to mention the murmurings heard in the audience at every revelatory statement made by County staffers. Administrator Taylor did his best to assuage the collective confusion felt by most by addressing a hot button issue on James Island, that of annexation.
“We wish the legislature would make it easier to annex property because these issue about whose town am I in or am in in the County or not in the County … are all covered because you’d be in that same area, and there wouldn’t be that confusion anymore,” said Taylor.
For more information on the County of Charleston, see the side notes for phone numbers, visit organization’s website at www.charlestoncounty.org, or stop by the County’s main office at 4045 Bridge View Dr. If you are in the Town of James Island or are unsure of who to turn to for services, see the Town’s website at www.jamesislandsc.us, or call Town Hall at 795-4141.