Surfside Beach town council guts planning commission, leaving one member

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Tuesday night’s town council meeting ended in controversy after nearly all of the planning commission members were removed from their positions.

After an hour of executive session, Surfside’s town council voted 4-3 to remove every planning commission member except for vice chair Robert Hellyer. Mayor Bob Childs, along with council members Bruce Dietrich, Randle Stevens and Debbie Scoles voted to get rid of the other six planning commission members. Council members Mark Johnson, David Pellegrino and Ron Ott supported keeping them on the commission.

This comes after the planning commission sued town council over its passing of the rules for the entertainment district, also called the “e-district,” on Surfside’s oceanfront. The lawsuit was later dismissed.

Johnson voiced his disapproval before casting his vote.

“This council is so discombobulated, the words just escape me the way things have gone down,” Johnson said. “I understand their frustration, but they created the frustration.”

Several residents and some of the ousted planning commission members confronted the rest of council over the decision.

“This town needs more people to come to these meetings, to support citizens and to support us, so that we can have fair, honest and trustworthy elected officials,” said Surfside resident Beth Kohlmann.

Since the planning commission has only one member left, it won’t hold any meetings until a majority of the positions are filled. The commission last met on March 7.

The next planning commission meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, April 2.

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