After controversy, Surfside Beach planning commission holds first meeting in four months

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SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A part of one South Strand town’s government met for the first time in four months Tuesday night, after nearly a year of controversy.

Earlier this year, several residents were upset with Surfside town council’s narrow vote in March to remove all but one person on the planning commission.

“You have done a grievous wrong to this whole town,” said Patricia Magliette of Surfside in March.

“They saved our FEMA flood insurance,” said Ann Wescott of Surfside in May. “We owe these people a vote of thanks.”

Tuesday’s first commission meeting since the removals was much quieter, as the six new members were sworn in.

“It’s an honor to be on this commission and I want to be part of something good here in Surfside,” said new commission member Scott von Busek.

“I actually started in (planning and zoning) in 1999,” said new commission member Sammy Truett. “A lot of things have changed in 20 years.”

The new commission even took its first action and recommended to council that the town create “public land” zoning for property it owns. That would mean the land can only be used for government purposes.

The former members were removed after filing a failed lawsuit against the town. It was over rules council passed last year when it approved an entertainment district near the town pier.

Commission chair Robert Hellyer, who was the only member not removed in March, says he’s ready to move past the controversy.

“Planning commission has always done good work and we’ll try to do it and keep this going,” said Hellyer.

“We’ve had a group that came before us that did a lot of hard work,” said new commission member Melodye Lang-Laveglia. “I’m looking forward to working hard myself.”

The former planning commission’s lawsuit claimed the e-district violated two federal laws for stormwater and drainage, but council did re-pass the law to fix the issue.

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