Surfside Beach appoints new planning commission members after controversial removals

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Town council filled most of the vacancies on its planning commission nearly two months after the controversial removal of most committee members.

Council approved the appointment of five people to the planning commission at Tuesday night’s meeting. The new commission members are Casey Brown, Melodye Lane Laveglia, Michael Pesch, Sammy Truett and Cody Sluder. 

Surfside says nine people applied for the planning commission vacancies. There’s still one spot left on the commission.

Back in March, council removed six of the seven commission members after the commission filed a lawsuit against council for approving an oceanfront entertainment district, also called the e-district. The lawsuit, which was dropped in February, claimed the e-district violated two federal laws for stormwater and drainage. Vice chair Robert Hellyer is the only member on the planning commission that was on it before the March removals.

Some residents spoke in support of the former commission members at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“I want them to know how grateful I am because they saved our FEMA flood insurance,” said Surfside resident Ann Westcott. “We owe these people a vote of thanks, not to be replaced by someone who has no idea what to start with.”

The planning commission has not held a meeting since March 7 because the seven-person panel requries at least four members to meet. The commission is supposed to meet on the first Tuesday of every month, which would mean the next meeting would be June 4.

It’s unclear, however, when the new members will be sworn in and meet for the first time.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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