Friday, April 18, 2014
To the Editor:
A little over two weeks ago, I, Steven Goggans, announced my candidacy for the County Council, District 6, for Georgetown County.
This decision was not an action I took lightly, and have, in fact, pondered for some time. The decision is certainly made more difficult by the fact that I am challenging an incumbent Councilman, who many in the Republican leadership support, and who had a hand in selecting him, originally.
But after 30 years of participating in building this Community, I have arrived at the conclusion that if you feel strongly about the way our Community is growing and changing, then you have to get involved.
For those who keep up with the media, you may know me as the one who helped lead the opposition to redesign the proposed median project along Highway 17. I believe this is a project that will transform forever our Community, and I have fought for the redesign of this project –not its elimination. It is also a project that hurts more than just our local businesses – it hurts our neighborhoods, and it will impact the quality and character of our Community as a forever. Its safety attributes are also dubious.
However, for those that think I am obsessed with a single issue, I would like to say that the median issue goes to the heart of what I am really concerned about, which is the quality and character of our Community, and the fact that there seems to be little vision at the leadership levels, regarding where our Community is going.
Infrastructure and policy decisions have often been piecemealed, and our leaders have, at best, been reactive to the pressures that come with growth and change. This is compounded by a governmental organization that is based on single member voting districts. In such a set up, one councilman can effectively dictate events for an entire district, and it can be demoralizing when that representative doesn't listen to his or her citizens.
My concerns relating to the growth of our community are not newly found. Apart from the numerous private and public sector projects in which I have been involved over the past 30 years, I was one of the leaders who advocated for, and helped to establish the Waccamaw Neck Overlay District, some 13-14 years ago. I subsequently wrote the design guidelines for The Overlay District (which are still in place) while serving on the Appearance Board. In the early 2000's, I also served on a County Council appointed task force, charged with rewriting the sign ordinance for the Waccamaw Neck Overlay District. (That ordinance was promptly tabled by the County Council).
I have had the privilege of living in Pawleys Island for almost thirty years, and I feel privileged to live such a wonderful Community.
My wife and I have raised our children here, we have built our careers here. As an architect and planner, I have been engaged in analyzing the basic elements of this our Community. I have watched as Pawleys Island, Litchfield, and Murrells Inlet have grown and matured. Grown to the point where inattention to details, lack of integrated planning, and poorly planned infrastructure, are compromising the very positive qualities that make many of us proud to claim The Waccamaw Neck as home.
Apart from quality of life, there are also economic considerations as to why care must be given in planning for growth and change on the Waccamaw Neck. Perhaps many of you are unaware that nearly eighty percent (80 percent) of the tax revenue for Georgetown County is generated from the Waccamaw Neck.
For better or worse, the Waccamaw Neck is the economic engine for the entire County. If the quality and character of our community continues to be compromised and reduced, then the proverbial golden goose will indeed be slain. Based on current trends, it is not that hard to visualize that our community could soon become like some of our neighboring communities across the Horry County line.
That outcome would, of course, result in reduced property values, lesser quality tourism, and ironically, a decline in tax revenue and jobs for all of Georgetown County. Moreover, continuing to burden our communities residents and visitors with increased taxes and fees, will also have negative consequences for future employment and investment.
So what do I think a County Councilman should stand for?
First, I believe it is essential that a Councilman must listen and represent his constituency. Whether led by ideology, or other agendas, our representatives have seemingly not been interested in listening to the concerns of its citizens, nor have they been very transparent.
I will work to keep taxes and fees low in order to grow investment, and to create jobs.
I will work to preserve the quality and character of our community.
I will promote roads that are safe, attractive, and community friendly.
I will work for more sidewalks and bike paths to make the Waccamaw Neck a walkable Community.
Finally, I will campaign for a true, comprehensive approach to planning and better management of growth within our community.
Thank you for your consideration, and Please Vote for Steve Goggans in the June 10th Republican Primary.
Steve Goggans, AIA