April 2013: Mayors
Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne
ARE WE OPEN FOR BUSINESS?
Recently, Hilton Head Island Town Council voted to oppose a flyover bridge to connect the Bluffton Parkway to U.S. 278, just before the causeway to Hilton Head Island. One might think that the flyover is a new idea. Actually, it has been in the news for nearly a dozen years. As recently as one year ago, council had reaffirmed its support for the project. These were advisory; the county has the final say.
In the late 1990s, following a five-year stretch in which we evacuated the island four times because of hurricane threats, our community demanded alternate evacuation routes. In addition, rapid growth in Southern Beaufort County heightened concerns about traffic congestion on U.S. 278—our transportation lifeline.
Beaufort County responded with a master plan for regional road improvements. The centerpiece of this plan was the Bluffton Parkway, designed to provide an alternate route parallel to U.S. 278 through Greater Bluffton to U.S. 170, and eventually through Jasper County to I-95. A set of flyover bridges to connect the Bluffton Parkway to U.S. 278 has been part of the planning process as far back as 2002. It became part of the road improvements to be funded by the penny sales tax approved by voters in 2006. Every detail of the flyover design has been thoroughly studied and scrutinized at many well-publicized public hearings. Engineers considered many factors, including safety, traffic movement, and environmental impacts. Considerable efforts were made to obtain scarce state funding. Given all that, the county has voted to proceed.
My concerns are with the repercussions of Town Council’s vote. If any significant project can be reversed at the 11th hour in reaction to a professionally crafted P.R. campaign, what message do we send to those considering investments in our island, to our state and regional partners, and to our own town staff? Are we committed to long-range plans, or are we susceptible to moment-to-moment reactions? I believe that if we want the private sector to invest in our community, and we want cooperation from our regional partners, we must be viewed as forward thinking, consistent and reliable.
Last month’s debate over town support for the flyover reminded me of the debate about the Cross Island Parkway. This town fought itself for years over that project. Today, the Cross Island is indispensible.
We are not built-out. We can expect more visitors and future residents as the national economy improves and we continue to enhance our desirability as a place to visit and live. The mainland will also thrive. We have a great future, provided we have sufficient infrastructure and a consistent message about where we are going.
BUSINESS LICENSE/ STRATEGIC PLANNING
BUSINESS LICENSE RENEWAL
The Town of Bluffton mailed out approximately 2,200 business license renewals for 2013 in January. Please be aware that your license expired on December 31, 2012. However, our renewal period is through April 15, 2013. After that date a penalty is assessed of 5 percent per month.
All business licenses are renewable annually, based on the previous year’s gross sales for business conducted in the Town of Bluffton. To date, the town has received 524 renewals, including 243 from in town businesses and 281 from out of town businesses.
The town accepts credit card payments (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and Discover) in addition to the previously accepted cash and business check. Please stop in to our customer service center at town hall on 20 Bridge Street if you have questions or need assistance in renewing your license.
The Town of Bluffton requires businesses operating within the town limits, including home occupations to obtain a Town of Bluffton business license. Applications are available on our website. Applications for new business licenses are made by submitting a completed application either by mail or in person at the business license office located at town hall. We currently have 46 new businesses in the town for 2013.
If you have any questions or comments regarding business licenses, or to notify us of a change of address or closure of your business, please contact the business license department at (843) 706-4501 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
STRATEGIC PLANNING WORKSHOP
The weekend long strategic planning workshop with council, staff and residents was a huge success.