January 05, 2021
2020 Year in Review
On January 3, Town Biologists and volunteers conducted the 9th Sea Islands Christmas Bird Count, recording 23,127 individual birds and 156 different species (including two new species: Mottled Duck and Dickcissel.)
The Town’s alligator audit committee completed the Alligator Awareness Study and recommended new measures to increase the effectiveness of the island’s alligator program.
The Town began monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and participating in the Tri-County conference calls with the Charleston County Emergency Management Department. As the virus continued to spread, The Municipal Center, along with other island entities, adopted virtual operations and closed to public for the safety of the community, visitors, and staff. The Town made meetings available over live-stream, and kept residents entertained with at-home activities.
A partnership between the Town and MUSC provided COVID-19 Antibody testing for three days to the Kiawah Community. The results were released in June.
Town Council passed a resolution establishing guidelines for reopening and operation of short-term rentals which included protocols guided by the CDC, SCDHEC, and MUSC to promote the safe operation of short-term rentals and provide rental owners with measures to prevent exposure of their renters and workers to the COVID-19 virus.
The Town distributed $150,000 to 20 worthy organizations through the 2020 Charitable Contributions Fund.
State Accommodations Tax (SATAX) revenues were allocated to these organizations through the Town’s annual application and SATAX committee review process.
The spread of COVID-19 continued in Charleston County, thus for the health and safety of the community Town Council passed an Emergency Ordinance imposing the use of face coverings in certain public areas.
Due to safety concerns arising from the pandemic, the Town of Kiawah Island Arts & Cultural Events Council delayed the start of the 2020-2021 season until early 2021.
Throughout the year, Town Biologists were researching a disturbing trend of bobcat deaths due to anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning. The Town requested a one-year temporary prohibition on second generation anticoagulant rodenticide use on Kiawah Island from the South Carolina Department of Pesticide Regulation (the sole regulating body for pesticides in the state) and the ban was denied. The Town introduced the Bobcat Guardian program to raise awareness of the issue among stakeholders, and encourage voluntary commitments to abstain from anticoagulant rodenticides.
Tropical Storm Isaias passed by the Lowcountry on Monday, August 3 bringing rain, winds and rip tides before moving north and restrengthening into a hurricane.
The Town installed a new water level monitoring station located at the Kiawah River Bridge, which provides real-time water level information that is available to residents and the general public here.
In August, HR&A Advisors completed their six months of work on the Kiawah Island Housing Market Study. The Town hosted a virtual Q&A, which gave residents the opportunity to ask questions directly about the study.
Least Terns made a triumphant return to the east end of Kiawah’s beach, nesting there for the first time in large numbers since 2009. Prior to nesting season, Town Biologists identified two areas east of the Ocean Course that had good potential nesting habitat and closed them to public access.
Town Council passed Resolution 2020-04 strongly discouraging the use of anticoagulant rodenticides on Kiawah and encouraging homeowners, pest control providers and businesses to take the Bobcat Guardian Pledge. In addition, Mayor Weaver proclaimed October 11 to October 20, 2020 to be “Save Kiawah Bobcat Week.”
Judge Strauch, who has served as the Municipal Judge since 2013, announced his plans to retire at the end of his current term. The Town accepted letters of interest from potential candidates for his replacement through October 30.
The municipal election was held on December 1, and the newly elected Mayor John Labriola and Council members Maryanne Connelly, John Moffitt, Scott Parker, and Dan Prickett were sworn-in on December 4.