Say it enough, they’ll believe it

  • Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To the Editor:

Steve Goggans’ campaign for the County Council District 6 primary election seems to be following a strategy of “if you repeat it enough, people will believe it.”

Mr. Goggans’ political sign tag “Quality of life on the Waccamaw Neck” is not, in my opinion, validated by his actions.

In his early campaign announcements Mr. Goggans mentions that he “wrote the book,” referring to Architectural Guidlines for Commercial Development in the Waccamaw Neck Commercial Corridor Overlay Zone.

He did serve with me on a committee appointed by County Council. However, the “book” was a collaborative effort produced by the committee in a series of meetings open to the press and the public.

Input was taken from many interested parties, culminating in voluntary guidelines that eventually became mandatory as part of the Zoning Ordinance and led to the creation of an Architectural Review Board.

The ARB was a quasi judicial board formed to hear appeals from applicants who disagreed with the requirements of the ordinance. The ARB was the last opportunity for an aggrieved applicant to seek redress at the County level.

In a recent Coastal Observer ad, Mr. Goggans further embellishes his role on the ARB by claiming that he “Led the effort to establish the Waccamaw Neck Overlay District and Design Guidelines.”

Actually, I served as chairman of the committee through the voluntary period and presented updates and the proposed ordinance at several County Council meetings including a very contentious public meeting at which the proposed guidelines were finally adopted as an ordinance by Council. I then served the maximum 2 consecutive terms as chairman of the ARB and presided over any appeals meetings during that time. Mr. Goggans’ exaggeration of his role in this effort is insincere and an affront to all who participated in a lengthy and sometimes difficult process.

Mr. Goggans’ performance at his one and only meeting as Chairman of the ARB in September 2013 is in conflict with his campaign rhetoric concerning quality of life on the Waccamaw Neck.

Under his leadership the Pawleys Plaza ARB appeal hearing went outside of the legal framework at the very first motion for approval proffered by a board member.

The ARB, in questionable deliberations, eventually granted a variance to the developer by a vote of 6 to 1.

In response to this action, County Council fired the board members and removed all references to an appeals board from the ordinance, effectively weakening a system that has proven to be successful without an appeal for nearly 10 years.

In trying to justify his conduct as chairman of the meeting run amok, Mr. Goggans, in an early campaign announcement, first offered a weak apology and then later stated that he met with the developer prior to the meeting and was “convinced of the merits of the appeal.”

This is tantamount to a plaintiff meeting with a juror prior to a trial.

I would remind the public that in contrast to Mr. Goggans, Councilman Bob Anderson served his constituents in 2012 when this same developer proposed a 120,000 square foot retail store.

In responding to overwhelming public opposition to the project, Councilman Anderson worked proactively with his fellow Council Members to defend our ordinances and stand behind the Planning Commission recommendation to deny the project, thereby demonstrating real concern for quality of life on the Waccamaw Neck.

Many individuals, groups, and County Council members have invested tremendous effort in crafting ordinances that provide opportunities for attractive commercial development while attempting to preserve the unique character of the area.

Contrary to campaign rhetoric, Mr. Goggans’ recent actions indicate a willingness to disregard our ordinances and support any development proposal regardless of public sentiment.

Lee Shoulette

Pawleys Island

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