ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) — A small group of current and former leaders on the Isle of Palms say they’re working on a plan to secede the city from South Carolina to form an independent Republic.
The group is hoping to bring attention to some residents and leader’s frustrations over beach parking using humor.
The Palm Republic is an idea of former Mayor Jimmy Carroll. The idea is in response to the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s beach parking authority and the department’s changes on the IOP connector last year.
“When you have city leadership saying that we hate the rest of the state so much we’re going to secede and have our own little country here, that sort of ticks a lot of people off,” South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said.
The idea for the Palm Republic is a form of retaliation by the organizers against the restriping of the Isle of Palms Connector and Senate Bill S-40, known as the beach parking bill. Grooms, the bill’s author, said legislation was needed to keep local leadership from stepping out of line.
“The state had to come in and be almost a little bit heavy-handed when leadership basically outlawed all public parking on the island,” says Senator Grooms.
Carroll told News 2 the idea was inspired by The Conch Republic, when Key West, Florida, declared itself a Republic from Florida in 1982. He and current IOP City Councilman Blair Hahn are behind the effort believed to be half a joke and half an effort to bring attention to the city’s frustrations with the state’s changes to beach parking regulations.
Former state Attorney General Charlie Condon said the city could claim the state violated the Home Rule Act in court but said seceding from the state isn’t legally possible.
“You can’t secede, that’s going nowhere,” Condon said. “It’s not legal, it’s not possible under our system of laws but they do have access to the courts.”
Some residents said they only recently learned about the proposal. Leadership for the proposed Palm Republic was set to have a meeting Friday to outline the future, and they’re expected to present plans soon.
Grooms said he thinks the issue should be approached differently to find better solutions.
“Let fools continue to sing their songs and just try to ignore them and do what’s best for all concerned,” he said.
Current Mayor Phillip Pounds sent News 2 a statement that reads quote, “The City of Isle of Palms is in no way involved with the Palm Republic. Our Council and I continue to be focused on collaborative relationships and seeking solutions that benefit residents and visitors.”