Surfside Beach residents upset with proposed town council meeting rules

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Some residents are upset about a new proposal that they say would make it tougher to express their opinions at town council meetings.

At many meetings, some residents aren’t afraid to say how they feel.

“Some of you I voted for are horrible and I’m ashamed,” said Kathy Goddard of Surfside. “I’m ashamed I’ve ever known you.”

“When you say, ‘I will serve the people,’ and you like transparency, you’re blinding us all,” Surfside resident Terri Lauer said.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, that time for public comments was at the center of the debate. A proposed ordinance would reduce the time and require anyone who wants to speak to sign up six days in advance, well before meeting agendas are usually released.

Meetings would begin at 5:30, instead of 6:30. They would also be held once a month, instead of twice a month.

Many people oppose those changes, saying it’s being done to prevent complaints.

“We don’t have to agree, but we should have some kind of common ground here,” said Surfside resident Beth Kohlmann. “This is “The Family Beach.” This is our beach.”

Council member Bruce Dietrich brought the changes to the town’s attention, saying the rules help many other towns hold professional meetings.

“We have to be able to control our business and that’s all we’re trying to do,” Dietrich said. “We’re not trying to quiet you or burden you.”

Some council members say the changes would improve order.

“If it were handled more like a business meeting, none of this would ever come up,” said mayor Bob Childs.

Others want to make sure the rules are fair.

“There are so many changes, it’s just ludicrous,” said council member Mark Johnson.

This whole proposal ties into when Horry County takes over Surfside’s elections.

Town council did not vote on first reading of the ordinance Tuesday night and decided it will hold a workshop about the proposal.

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