Estate Planning Attorney inSeabrook Island, SC

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Securing Your Legacy in South
Carolina

Did you know that one in two U.S. citizens have yet to create a plan for their estate? Just about everyone knows they need to get their affairs in order, but most people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. It's an uncomfortable subject to think about. After all, nobody wants to ponder their death and what happens to their assets when they pass. However, working with an estate planning lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC, protects you, your loved ones, and your assets, both while you're alive and after you have died. There isn't a perfect time to plan your estate, but there is a right time and that time is now.

We understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to your estate planning needs. That's why, at CDH Law Firm, we make a concerted effort to speak with our clients personally so that we can create an estate plan that is as unique as they are. Our estate plans are comprehensive, cost-effective, and catered to you. That way, your family is provided if you are incapacitated or pass away.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that every one of our clients leaves our office feeling less stressed and more informed. Peace of mind is valuable currency these days. Why worry about the future of your loved ones when you can use South Carolina law to ensure their stability?

Many of the clients in Seabrook Island that walk through our doors have significant questions that require serious answers. They're filled with doubt, stress, and worry. They're worried about their children, their spouse, their relatives, or all the above. They ask questions like:

  • How much does estate planning cost?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • How long will this process take?

If these questions sound familiar, know that you are not alone. At CDH Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of clients just like you. Sometimes, these clients are unsatisfied with their current estate planning attorney in Seabrook Island. Other times, they have been served with confusing papers or documents that leave them feeling overwhelmed. In either case, clients come to our office knowing they need to manage what is often a sudden, foreign situation.

The good news? We sit down with all new clients for an hour at no extra cost. We do so to get a basic sense of their situation and help steer them in the right direction. That way, they can leave our office feeling a little wiser and a lot better about the future.

Estate Planning Law Seabrook Island, SC
Service Areas

Our firm specializes in several areas of estate planning and family law, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Wills
  • Heath Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

The CHSA Law
Difference

At CHSA Law, LLC, estate planning is like second nature to us. Having worked hundreds upon hundreds of cases, we have the knowledge and experience to assist with all the estate planning needs that you or your family have.

As our client, you will always work directly with your attorney. We do not pass cases off to paralegals or junior associates. Because your concerns and questions don't end when our office closes, we encourage our clients to contact us at any time.

Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we have the time and resources to truly dedicate ourselves to each of our clients. Unlike some competitors, we care about the outcome of every case because we know that our clients' future depends on it.

 Estate Planning Attorney Seabrook Island, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference
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What Our Clients Say

What is Estate Planning in
Seabrook Island, SC?

The word "estate" might make you think of a sprawling mansion in the French countryside. The truth is, you don't have to be rich to have an estate. In fact, most people already have an estate. An estate comprises the assets that a person owns like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and other possessions. Everyone's estate is different, but we all have one thing in common: none of us can take our estates with us when we die. When that does eventually happen, you will need legal instructions that state who gets what from your estate in plain terms.That, in a nutshell, is estate planning building a framework in advance that names the organizations or people that should receive your assets after you die. Planning your estate now helps make life much easier for your family down the line.

 Estate Planning Lawyer Seabrook Island, SC
A good estate plan covers more than fiscal assets, however. A comprehensive
estate plan should include the following:
  • If you have children who are minors, instructions as to who will be their guardian when you die.
  • Long-term care insurance if you suffer from an extended injury or illness.
  • Instructions that dictate what happens to you and your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.
  • Instructions on the transfer of your business after retirement, incapacity, disability, or death.
  • Instructions on how to provide for loved ones who might need help managing money or who need protection from creditors.
  • Probate and tax avoidance that help minimize court fees, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Planning Medicaid payments.
  • Instructions that help complete or update beneficiary designations.
  • Assist family members who have special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't just for adults who are approaching retirement age. Estate planning is for everyone. After all, we're all getting older, and none of us know exactly when it will be our time to go.

The Basics of Estate Planning
in Seabrook Island, SC

Although estate planning can be complicated, a well-rounded plan makes a huge difference in what is left to your beneficiaries. Before you start planning your estate, it's important to know a few common topics that may arise as you detail your needs.

1.

Working with a Tax Advisor and Estate Planning
Attorney in Seabrook Island, SC

Working with a veteran estate planning lawyer is a no-brainer, but you should consider working with a tax advisor too. Your attorney's role is to help guide you through the creation of your estate planning documents. Common documents include your will, health care directives, and power of attorney. Your tax advisor will help guide you through tax issues associated with your estate planning needs.

In this relationship, you make the decisions while your attorney and tax advisor help you understand and think through the options you're considering. As a team, they will help you state your wishes clearly while minimizing mistakes and adjusting your plans as they change. Because significant savings can result from thorough, informed planning, you should seriously consider working with a tax advisor in addition to your estate planning attorney.

 Law Firm Seabrook Island, SC
2.

Maximizing
Your Estate

If there were one overriding theme of estate planning, it would be maximizing what you plan to leave behind. Thinking through how each of your assets will be distributed is crucial to your estate. Your decisions may change depending on the type of asset, its size, how old you are, and several other factors. With an attorney on your side, you will gain a thorough understanding of what actions you should take to care for your family while minimizing expenses like taxes and court fees.

Estate Planning Law Seabrook Island, SC
3.

Inheritance, Estate,
and Gift Taxes

One of the biggest parts of maximizing what you're leaving behind is to minimize taxes. Federal taxes on estates and gifts are incredibly high. Both forms of taxes usually have exemption limits, which means you can give up to a specific amount without being taxed. Your lawyer can achieve that by using the gift tax exemption to move assets while you are still alive. This strategy maximizes how much your beneficiaries will receive.

Inheritance taxes are often based on the value of your estate and paid prior to asset distribution to your beneficiaries.

 Estate Planning Attorney Seabrook Island, SC

Choosing the
Executor of Your Will

The executor of your estate plays a key role in your affairs. Their responsibilities include carrying out the terms of your will and seeing the estate settlement process through until the end. Obviously, such a role demands a qualified person. Choosing your executor isn't an easy decision. The person you select should be great at managing money, be savvy financially, and show an ability to be patient. That's because the executor is tasked with:

  • Collecting Your Assets
  • Paying Outstanding Bills
  • Submitting Tax Returns
  • Petitioning the Court for Documents
  • Distributing Assets to Your Beneficiaries
 Estate Planning Lawyer Seabrook Island, SC

If the person that you choose as executor is inexperienced with the estate settlement process, it is recommended that they lean on an estate planning attorney in Seabrook Island, SC for guidance. It should be noted that you may appoint more than a single executor to your estate. This is common when two individuals have complementary personalities or skill sets.

The Benefits of Estate Planning
in Seabrook Island, SC

One of the biggest benefits of planning your estate is the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. With the help of our expert estate planning attorneys, you have the power to protect your assets, privacy, and children's welfare. You can also potentially save money on taxes or even avoid probate. By having your wishes legally documented before death or incapacity, you can minimize any impact on your beneficiaries and take control of your legacy. Without a comprehensive estate plan, you're leaving the future of your loved ones in the hands of the South Carolina court system.

With an estate plan in place, you can plan for incapacity by using a power of attorney or advanced medical directives. Doing so relieves your loved ones of the burden of asking the court for the authority to fulfill your wishes.

At CDH Law Firm, we are committed to helping you prepare for both the expected and unexpected through years of experience and a fierce dedication to our clients. From establishing trusts to designing business succession plans, we are here to fight for you.

At CDH we offer a "Will Package" that includes 4 necessary documents.

If a husband and wife each purchase reciprocating will packages we give a discount. Reciprocating just means the husband names the wife and the wife names the husband. Those four documents are:

  • Last will and testament
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • living will

Common Documents Included
in Your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, everyone's estate planning needs will be different. However, most plans include one or more of the following documents:

1.

Will

Your will is an essential piece of documentation and is often considered the cornerstone of a proper estate plan. Generally speaking, your will is a document that dictates the distribution of your assets after your death. Having an iron-clad will is one of the best ways to make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly. As is the case with most estate planning, it is highly recommended that you work with an estate planning attorney in Seabrook Island, SC, to create and update your will.

The contents of a will typically include:

  • Designation of the executor, who is responsible for adhering to the provisions of your will.
  • Designation of beneficiaries the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions that dictate how and when your beneficiaries will receive assets.
  • Instructions that assign guardianship for any minor children.

Without a will in place, the State of South Carolina will decide how to distribute assets to your beneficiaries. Allowing the state to distribute your assets is often an unfavorable route to take, since the settlement process may not include what you had in mind for your survivors. Having a will drafted that reflects your wishes will prevent such a situation from happening.

 Law Firm Seabrook Island, SC
2.

Living Will

Despite its name, a living will does not instruct your survivors on what assets go where. Also called an advanced directive, your living will allows you to state your end-of-life medical wishes if you have become unable to communicate. This important document provides guidance to family members and doctors and solidifies certain issues like whether you should be resuscitated after an accident.

For example, it's common to direct that palliative care (care to decrease pain and suffering) always be administered if needed. Conversely, you may state that certain measures are not allowed, like CPR.

Estate Planning Law Seabrook Island, SC
3.

Trusts

Traditionally, a trust is used to minimize estate taxes and maximize other benefits as part of a well-rounded estate plan. This fiduciary agreement lets a trustee hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are many ways to arrange a trust to specify when and how your assets are distributed.

With a trust in place, your beneficiaries can avoid going to probate. That means they may be able to gain access to your assets quicker than when they are transferred with a standard will. Assets placed in a trust can pass outside of probate, which will save you and your family time, money, and stress.

There are two distinct trust categories that you should be aware of: revocable and irrevocable.

 Estate Planning Attorney Seabrook Island, SC

Revocable Trust:

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust helps assets circumvent probate. With this trust, you can control your assets while you are still alive. These trusts are flexible and may be dissolved at any point in time. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. Revocable trusts can help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but be aware that they are usually still taxable.

Irrevocable Trust:

This kind of trust transfers assets out of your estate so that they are not taxed and do not have to go through probate. However, once an irrevocable trust has been executed, it may not be altered. That means that once you establish this kind of trust, you lose control of its assets and cannot dissolve the trust. If your primary goal is to avoid taxes on your estate, setting up an irrevocable could be a wise choice.

When drafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC, your trust can also:

Protect Your Legacy:

When constructed properly, a trust can protect your estate from your heirs' creditors. This can be a huge relief for beneficiaries who might need to brush up on money management skills.

Privacy and Probate:

Probate records are made available for public consumption. With a trust, you may have the choice of having your assets pass outside of probate court so that they remain private. In the process, you may also save money that you would lose to taxes and court fees.

Control Wealth:

Because you can specify the exact terms of a trust, you have more control over who receives your assets and when they receive them. As an example, you can set up a revocable trust so that your assets are attainable while you're alive. When you pass, remaining assets are distributed, even in complex situations involving children from multiple marriages.

The Top Estate Planning Law Firm in the Lowcountry

If you know that you need to provide for your family and loved ones after your death, it's time to develop your estate plan. With CDH Law Firm by your side, planning your estate doesn't have to be difficult. However, it does need to be accurate and executed exactly to your wishes something that we have been helping clients achieve for years. Don't leave your legacy up to chance contact our office today and secure your future generations.

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Latest News in Seabrook Island, SC

First-ever committee addresses Seabrook Island short-term rentals

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A first-time special committee on short-term rentals is hearing Seabrook Island residents’ concerns and hopes for the island’s future.The Seabrook Island Town Council established a Special Committee on Short-Term Rentals on Jan. 4 with the members being appointed on Jan. 23.The committee’s purpose is to study short-term rental activities and trends within the town. This could involve limiting the number of short-term rentals, limiting the ownership of multiple short-term rentals,...

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A first-time special committee on short-term rentals is hearing Seabrook Island residents’ concerns and hopes for the island’s future.

The Seabrook Island Town Council established a Special Committee on Short-Term Rentals on Jan. 4 with the members being appointed on Jan. 23.

The committee’s purpose is to study short-term rental activities and trends within the town. This could involve limiting the number of short-term rentals, limiting the ownership of multiple short-term rentals, what fees are reasonable, etc.

Seabrook Island is home to 2,345 family homes and villas and 588 of those are short-term rentals, according to the town.

With about 25% of the island being taken up by short-term rentals, some residents say there are issues that need to be addressed.

“Agitating alligators,” Seabrook Island resident John Lagna said during Wednesday’s first public forum. “Secondly, speeding. Thirdly, ignoring stop signs... Lastly, ignoring amenity rules.”

However, not everyone agrees.

“There are a number of factors that have entered into it, but short-term rentals seem to be an easy target,” resident Debra Hardick said.

The committee says they are referencing data from peak COVID-19 times from when the number of renters significantly increased.

Resident Paul McLaughlin says the growth of the island has impacted the overall sense of community.

“If you don’t know who your neighbors are, it’s just not a very good feeling,” McLaughlin said.

The committee is made up of a town councilman, homeowners and even short-term rental owners who have been on the island for around a decade or more. They say the town has previously had an Ad Hoc Committee to address this topic, which was allowed to be done privately, but they want this one to be public to increase transparency.

Darryl May is the only town councilman on the short-term rental committee while the other seven are residents.

“So, the goal of this committee is to develop a set of proposals for the town council to pass an ordinance,” May said.

During the public forum, some shared ideas for what that ordinance may or may not look like.

“I think we should allow renters,” resident Ann Laporte said. “I think we should allow a minimum of three nights. No more than that.”

Resident Bill Boissonalt has another idea, adding that the town shouldn’t still be referencing data from peak COVID in 2020.

“I just don’t believe that we need any new regulations regarding the overnight stay, the capped rentals, based on history,” Boissonalt said.

As far as what the committee thinks the ordinance could look like, May says he doesn’t want to jump the gun.

“I won’t hazard to guess because we’re just starting out this process and we want to have a very open mind,” May said. “But we do anticipate getting an ordinance by about June.”

There are still three more public hearings over the next two weeks and the committee encourages Seabrook Island residents and those who rent on the island to speak.

Click here to read more about past short-term rental data and sign up for public comment.

Read below for the details on the next three public forums:

Public Forum #2

Public Forum #3

Public Forum #4

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

The Best Islands In South Carolina, According To Our Readers

From celebrated golf courses to unspoiled beaches, these destinations have it all.South Carolina is often referred to as the Palmetto State, so named for the abundance of the trees in the area, but it could just as easily be dubbed the Barrier Island State. With 34 barrier and tidal islands peppering its shoreline (more than any other state ...

From celebrated golf courses to unspoiled beaches, these destinations have it all.

South Carolina is often referred to as the Palmetto State, so named for the abundance of the trees in the area, but it could just as easily be dubbed the Barrier Island State. With 34 barrier and tidal islands peppering its shoreline (more than any other state except for Florida), South Carolina spills over with natural wonders, beautiful beaches, and unique destinations to explore. In our 2024 South's Best awards, readers voted on some of the very best of them. Here are the best islands in South Carolina, according to our readers.

The South's Best 2024

01 of 10

Hilton Head Island

With 12 miles of public beaches, more than 24 championship golf courses, and around 250 restaurants, Hilton Head's numerical stats alone prove why it's one of the state's most beloved islands. But the real magic, of course, belongs to its community—a mix of transplants and born-and-breds who are sure to make you feel right at home, whether you're sampling local oysters at Hudson's on the Docks or watching the boats come in at Shelter Cove Marina.

Explore Hilton Head

02 of 10

Isle of Palms

There’s nothing sleepy about this mile-wide destination just a short drive from downtown Charleston, where the activity and restaurant offerings belie its small size. Catch a concert at beachfront venue The Windjammer, play golf or tennis at nearby resort Wild Dunes (where you can book a stay in one of the property’s two inns or numerous vacation rentals), or shake out your towel on a sliver of the island’s six miles of sandy beaches for a leisurely day in the sun.

Explore Isle of Palms

03 of 10

Kiawah Island

While much of this tree-shaded barrier island is accessible only to those staying at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (either at The Sanctuary hotel or in one of their many rental properties), Beachwalker Park on the island’s west end is home to one of the state’s most beautiful beaches. Here, you’ll find both ocean-fronting shoreline and river views and can rent chairs and umbrellas for a no-fuss beach day. On your way, pick up deli sandwiches from The Station, an old-school convenience store in Freshfields Village, for an easy picnic.

Explore Kiawah Island

04 of 10

Edisto Island

This sea island about an hour’s drive from Charleston feels like a throwback in all the best ways. You won’t find high-rise hotels here, and the wildest nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays from the end of May through the beginning of August when the Edisto Island Lions Club hosts bingo (no booze allowed). For seasonally driven fare made with locally sourced ingredients, settle in for a meal at Ella and Ollie's (pictured above). The area’s crowning jewel is Botany Bay, a 4,600-acre nature preserve with nearly three miles of unspoiled shoreline, where erosion has left dead trees in its wake, resulting in a beautiful, otherworldly span referred to as the “boneyard beach.”

Explore Edisto Island

05 of 10

Sullivan’s Island

Just two-and-a-half miles long, Sullivan’s is a secret that Charleston locals are keen to keep. First settled in the late 17th century, the island can claim an embarrassment of riches when it comes to both historical significance and natural beauty. The wide beaches are pristine, and there’s nary a trace of touristy kitsch on Middle Street, the town’s main drag—just a handful of memorable eateries (we’re partial to The Obstinate Daughter’s house-made pastas) and well-curated shops (visit Sandpiper Gallery to peruse the work of local artists). The bitty beach town is big on curb appeal too: thoughtfully maintained historic homes and storybook cottages with flower-swamped trellises line the streets that crawl toward the beach.

06 of 10

Folly Island

About a dozen miles from downtown Charleston, this 12-square-mile barrier island is best known for being home to Folly Beach, a laid-back surf town that departs from the Holy City’s tucked-in approach in favor of flip-flop casual. With the Folly River on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, there’s no shortage of opportunities for waterfront fun: Paddle through tidal creeks with a local outfitter, stretch out on the sand (there are six miles of beachfront here), or cast a line from the historic Folly Beach Pier, which recently reopened after extensive renovations.

Explore Folly Beach

07 of 10

Hunting Island

Just a 25-minute drive from downtown Beaufort, explore the seaside charmer's wilder side at Hunting Island State Park (South Carolina's most popular state park). Here, five miles of unspoiled beaches unfurl along the Atlantic and sandy trails wind through dense maritime forest.

08 of 10

Daufuskie Island

As the crow flies, the southernmost of South Carolina’s barrier islands is just miles from Savannah and Hilton Head, but it might as well be worlds away. Daufuskie is accessible only by boat (the official ferry offers four shuttles from Bluffton a day, five on Fridays), which is likely one of the reasons its 500 or so residents have been able to so carefully preserve its natural environment and its rich Gullah history. And while the island remains untouched in many ways, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see or do here: Tour the island with sixth-generation Daufuskie native Sallie Ann Robinson for an education in Gullah culture; go for a horseback ride on the beach; shop indigo-dyed goods at Daufuskie Blues; and cap off the day with a plate of deviled crab at Old Daufuskie Crab Company.

Explore Daufuskie

09 of 10

Fripp Island

About 20 miles from Beaufort, Fripp Island is a 3,000-acre designated wildlife sanctuary, home to more than 175 species of birds, plus endangered loggerhead turtles who use its beach as a nesting ground. The private island is accessible only to homeowners and those staying in vacation rentals, but once you're here, there's plenty to do, from guided kayak eco-tours to pickleball and golf.

10 of 10

Seabrook Island

Right next door to Kiawah Island, Seabrook has stunning saltmarsh vistas and celebrated golf courses, along with a full-service equestrian center that offers guided horseback rides. Its nearly four miles of beaches are private, accessible only to residents and those renting, though Bohicket Marina (just before the property’s gates) welcomes anyone and everyone to enjoy its river views. Snag a table on the upper deck of Salty Dog Cafe to tuck into fresh seafood with one of the area’s most memorable sunsets.

Editorial: Seabrook Island, other beach towns, should respect Johns Island growth boundary

There are several powerful reasons why Seabrook Island Town Council should reject a proposed annexation that would pave the way for a new boat dock, private clubhouse, boathouse, pool house and 10 rental cottages near the town's northern limits.The additional boat and car traffic would create more congestion on Betsy Kerrison Parkway in particular and Johns Island in general, as well as more pollution to the otherwise pristine Bohicket Creek. But the biggest reason Town Council should reject the 18-acre annexation is the dangerous pre...

There are several powerful reasons why Seabrook Island Town Council should reject a proposed annexation that would pave the way for a new boat dock, private clubhouse, boathouse, pool house and 10 rental cottages near the town's northern limits.

The additional boat and car traffic would create more congestion on Betsy Kerrison Parkway in particular and Johns Island in general, as well as more pollution to the otherwise pristine Bohicket Creek. But the biggest reason Town Council should reject the 18-acre annexation is the dangerous precedent it would set, a precedent that would erode the rural character of southern Johns Island.

Decades ago, local governments, led by the city of Charleston and Charleston County, agreed on an urban growth boundary across Johns Island and other areas. The big idea was to ensure their zoning and other policies were synchronized to allow suburban development to continue to spread, but only up to a point, beyond which the existing rural nature would be preserved. The boundary has generally worked well, but as with so much other conservation work, it needs to be embraced and reaffirmed by each new generation.

Seabrook Island's potential move would mark one of the first and most dramatic annexations by a municipality into the rural portion of the island; if it succeeds, it almost assuredly wouldn't be the last, and it could hasten the unraveling of the boundary line — and increase development pressures on the shrinking amount of land on the rural side of the boundary.

Robby Maynor of the Coastal Conservation League agrees that annexing and rezoning this property on the rural side of the urban growth boundary would set a disastrous precedent on the county's Sea Islands and could lead to annexation battles such as those that are playing out along the most rural stretches of the upper Ashley River, whose rural historic district remains in jeopardy from encroaching homes, stores and the traffic they bring. Approving the marina project would be "like kicking an anthill and hoping you don't get bit," he says.

The case that the property's owner and other supporters have made for the annexation is that it would give Seabrook Island future control of the site and limit future development there, according to reporter Warren Wise. But the proposal appears to us as designed to facilitate development, not to curb it. Annexing the site, which is next to Bohicket Marina, would allow it to tie into the town's sewer system.

Unfortunately, Seabrook Island's Planning Commission has recommended annexing the site and rezoning it for a mixed-used development. We urge Town Council members to reject that move when they consider the matter Aug. 22.

As Mr. Wise noted, the project is a scaled-down version of a 30-year-old Andell Harbor project that state environmental regulators rightly and mercifully rejected. While this is smaller, with only about 4 acres of development near the creek and the rest set aside for open space, it still would represent an unwelcome and disturbing encroachment into the rural area between the barrier islands of Kiawah and Seabrook and the suburban growth from the city of Charleston.

Last year, we urged elected officials, neighborhood leaders and planners with Charleston County and the two beach towns to come up with a mutually agreed-upon overlay for their shared area at the southern tip of Johns Island. That overlay should guide future development toward the kinds of uses — and the sizes and scale — residents of all three jurisdictions would most like to see, and help address growing real estate pressures in a way residents prefer. We repeat the call for regional cooperation, and Seabrook Island's rejection of this annexation would be an important first step.

Code enforcement reports show violations of short-term rentals on Seabrook Island

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The debate on short-term rentals continues on Seabrook Island as the special committee met with code enforcement and the property owner’s association to see how much of a burden short-term rentals are causing them.The purpose of the committee is to study short-term rental activities and trends within the town. This could involve limiting the number of...

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The debate on short-term rentals continues on Seabrook Island as the special committee met with code enforcement and the property owner’s association to see how much of a burden short-term rentals are causing them.

The purpose of the committee is to study short-term rental activities and trends within the town. This could involve limiting the number of short-term rentals, limiting the ownership of multiple short-term rentals, what fees are reasonable, etc.

Seabrook Island is home to 2,345 family homes and villas and 588 of those are short-term rentals, according to the town.

Town councilman Darryl May, who’s also the chair of the committee, said they have heard over 450 comments both written and at the public forums.

He said they show how divided the island really is over whether or not to cap the number or push any more enforcement.

“There probably should be better enforcement of our rules, nuisance-type rules, on the island,” May said. “More understandable enforcement. Things of that nature.”

Town of Seabrook Island Mayor Bruce Kleinman said one of the main takeaways for him was that people are assuming what they want is the opposite of what they think the committee will do. However, he said there’s just no way of knowing that without an outcome and people need to be patient with the process.

“The process is working,” Kleinman said. “I think people in the town need to be a little patient.”

Members of the town’s code enforcement team presented their findings over the last nine months of alleged and identified violations during Wednesday’s meeting.

They found that only 7% of the identified coming from STRs. However, town administrator Joseph Cronin says some of the nuisance violations could overlap.

“There’s probably more violations that are out there,” Cronin said. “But if it’s not reported to us, it’s not observed by us, it’s obviously not going to be reflected in our data.”

Short-term rentals have 27 out of the 378 total found violations. Out of those, just over half came from vehicles parked in a yard or landscape area. The next most were overnight occupancy exceeding the permitted amount. Three violations were found for advertising a non-permitted short-term rental unit.

The team said if they discover a short-term rental has three violations, which they either admitted to or were found guilty in court, they can be suspended. Only then can the town revoke its short-term rental license.

“We felt like that was a little too lenient,” Cronin said. “...A couple incidences where we thought it may be more appropriate to be able to take more dramatic action earlier.”

He said there’s another idea.

“Three violations could be immediate revocation,” Cronin said.

May say he’s heard the argument that STRs lead to people wanting to move full-time to the island. But both he and Kleinman also understand that nuisances, like trash and noise, can be a big deterrent.

The committee has several more meetings before they take their recommendations to the town council which gives the final approval. The goal is to wrap this up by the end of June.

“Even if it isn’t what each Seabrooker hoped for, it will at least be a result that they perceive was reached in a fair way,” Kleinman said.

For the full list of code enforcement violations over the past nine months, read below.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Editorial: We dodged a bullet on Seabrook. Make sure it doesn't happen again.

Everyone who cares about southern Johns Island should be pleased that a controversial annexation was pulled from the Seabrook Island Town Council's agenda last week in the face of mounting opposition over what the annexation would help create — a new boat dock, private clubhouse, boathouse, pool house and 10 rental cottages — and the likelihood that it would add more traffic and pollution to the rural side of Charleston County's urban growth boundary.But those same folks, particularly leaders on Kiawah and Seabrook islands...

Everyone who cares about southern Johns Island should be pleased that a controversial annexation was pulled from the Seabrook Island Town Council's agenda last week in the face of mounting opposition over what the annexation would help create — a new boat dock, private clubhouse, boathouse, pool house and 10 rental cottages — and the likelihood that it would add more traffic and pollution to the rural side of Charleston County's urban growth boundary.

But those same folks, particularly leaders on Kiawah and Seabrook islands and Charleston County Council, should not get complacent. Instead, they need to work together on better planning to guide development in and around where those two sea islands meet up with southern Johns Island.

It's unclear when, or if, the developer's annexation request might resurface. Even if it doesn't, there undoubtedly will be other development plans that will expose the tensions between those living on rural Johns Island and those living beyond the gates at Kiawah and Seabrook. This moment offers an important reset, one that should begin with getting all these local governments to recommit to the vision of an urban growth boundary — a line past which suburban development would not be supported through zoning, infrastructure or other local policies.

Such a recommitment wouldn't bind future councils any more than their respective comprehensive plans do, but it would send a unified message about their mutual commitment to respect the natural beauty and environmental sensitivity of the area.

It's clear that development pressures at Kiawah's and Seabrook's doorstep are increasing. A fresh series of new developments, including a senior living facility and an emergency medical facility, is cropping up. Elected officials, neighborhood leaders and county planners need to come up with a mutually agreed-upon zoning overlay for the area, one that would guide future development to ensure new uses and the size and scale of new buildings are appropriate. Such an overlay also would prevent developers from trying to play one jurisdiction against another to get the permits they seek, a tactic sometimes used in other parts of the tri-county area.

The mutual interests of everyone became clear during this recent annexation controversy, as the mayor of Kiawah Island took the unusual step of sending a letter to Seabrook's mayor and council urging them to reject the annexation and respect the urban growth boundary, which Mayor John Labriola noted "serves as a guide to direct appropriate urban and suburban development while preserving and cherishing the rural charm of the Sea Islands that we all hold dear."

Given what we've seen this summer, the existing urban growth boundary line may not continue to be enough on its own, and we believe a joint planning effort could help pin down the following: to what extent commercial development in the greater Freshfields area should be allowed to inch its way north on Betsy Kerrison; whether the towns should annex any more of Johns Island; whether any upzoning in the area might be appropriate; and how new building would affect the net traffic and drainage needs around Kiawah and Seabrook. While residents live only on Kiawah or Seabrook or in the unincorporated area, they have a stake in the answers to all those questions. This area deserves a new zoning overlay and conservation goals that offer a shared vision of how the southern part of Johns Island will — and will not — change.

Regional planning needs to take place on a large scale — such as our greater metro area from Seabrook to Awendaw to Summerville and Moncks Corner — but it's also necessary on a smaller scale, especially in those places such as southern Johns Island where multiple local governmental jurisdictions meet.

Decades ago, the city of Charleston and Charleston County came up with the urban growth boundary across Johns Island and other areas where the suburbs ended to ensure their zoning and other policies worked together to protect rural areas that residents wanted to remain rural. Kiawah and Seabrook were once seen as too distant to bring into the conversation about that line. That's not the case any more.

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