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AC Repair in Johns Island, SC

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South Carolina is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to call home. However, our local weather can be extreme - high temps and thick humidity in the summer and chilly winter weather during cold months. As a local HVAC company in Johns Island, SC, we know how crucial it is to have a quality HVAC system in your home and experienced technicians to keep it working correctly.

With more than 35 years of serving the Lowcountry, we are proud to be an active part of our local community. As your neighbors, we are here for all of your HVAC needs, whether you need a new AC unit installed this summer or a heat pump replacement this winter. With a reliable team of NATE-certified technicians and decades of experience in our industry, no HVAC project is too big or small for us to handle.

We offer highly competitive pricing and convenient financing options for all of our clients. At the end of the day, our goal is to make it easy and affordable to live comfortably in your home all year long. We are committed to hard work, honesty, and integrity with every service we offer. If you aren't 100% satisfied with our work, we'll do our part to make it right.

Service Areas

Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners and business owners in South Carolina trust Action Heating & Air Conditioning:

  • We have been serving clients in South Carolina since 1983 - before many of our clients were even born!
  • We provide a wide range of HVAC services for both heating and air conditioning.
  • We are committed to giving our clients the highest quality products and services at affordable prices.
  • As a Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer, we have the best HVAC units available.
  • We are members of the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors.
  • We are members of our local Chamber of Commerce and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

If you need a trusted AC repair company in Johns Island, know that our team is geared up and ready to help you today. While you browse our website, have a look at just a few of our specialties here at Action Heating & Air Conditioning:

Air Conditioning Repair in Johns Island, SC

Summers in the Lowcountry are hot, humid, and sticky. After a long day at the beach or downtown with your friends, nothing feels better than kicking back on the sofa while your air conditioning cools you off. On the other hand, nothing feels worse than walking into your home and feeling warm, stale air hit your face. Those who know, know - having your AC go out during a South Carolina summer is no joke. With time, a relatively minor inconvenience can turn into a real health problem.

In situations like these, something has probably gone wrong with your HVAC system. If your AC has stopped working in the middle of summer, it's time to call Action Heating & Air Conditioning right away. Our team of certified HVAC professionals has years of experience repairing and servicing AC equipment. It doesn't matter how old your unit is or what brand you bought - we have the skills to get your home comfort system up and running in no time.

Heating And Air Conditioning Johns Island, SC
Here are just a few of the AC issues that our talented team can help solve for you:
 Heating And Air Conditioning Services Johns Island, SC

Air Conditioning Drainage Block

Over time, condensation builds up in your AC equipment because of its cooling process. This accumulated byproduct must be drained regularly, or the increased amounts of moisture can damage your air conditioner's components.

 AC Repair Services Johns Island, SC

Air Conditioning Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant is the substance responsible for keeping your home nice and cool in the summer. When refrigerant levels drop due to a leak, it will affect your AC equipment's ability to cool your home. If your HVAC unit isn't blowing cold air, this could be a reason why.

 HVAC Repair Services Johns Island, SC

Heater Keeps Running

This is a common AC issue in South Carolina and the U.S. in general. Sometimes this problem is fixed by switching your thermostat to "auto." If that doesn't work, you may have a broken thermostat or a wiring issue that needs to be addressed quickly.

 Air Conditioning Johns Island, SC

Burning Odors

It's normal for your heater to produce a slight burning smell if it hasn't been used in a while. However, if you are experiencing a persistent burning smell during the summer months when your air conditioning is on, it could be a serious problem. Turn off your HVAC system immediately and call our office as soon as possible so that we may send out a technician to diagnose your problem.

 AC Repair Johns Island, SC

Broken Air Conditioning Compressor Fan

This fan plays an important role in your AC unit's heat transfer process. When your air conditioning fan breaks, your AC equipment won't be able to cool your home off in the summer when it's needed the most.

Our Special Offers

One of our goals as a company is to provide HVAC repair services at fair and competitive prices. In addition, we want you to feel confident about investing in high-quality heating and cooling systems without having to worry a lot about the costs. We make sure to provide honest and accurate quotes and we offer a variety of financing options. We want you to get the best bang for your buck, so here are some special offers.

See Our Offer

If you are experiencing any of the problems above, be sure to hire a professional contractor to fix your issues. For your safety, don't ever try to make HVAC repairs on your own unless you are trained. When the time come to have your air conditioning system repaired, our team of licensed AC technicians will handle all of the hard work on your behalf. That way, you can stay safe and have peace of mind knowing you're in good hands.

Air Conditioning Install in Johns Island, SC

Your HVAC system works hard all year long. If you have gone years without much maintenance or AC repair, you probably bought a great HVAC unit. However, with constant use and even normal wear and tear, even the highest-quality HVAC systems are prone to malfunctions. Eventually, it will need to be replaced.

If you need an energy-efficient, reliable cooling system for your home or business, you have come to the right place. We have decades of experience installing new AC systems for our clients and can handle any installation project you have. As a Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer, we have the most top-rated AC systems available in South Carolina.

At Action Heating & Air Conditioning, we know that buying a new air conditioner and installing it can be a huge source of stress. But when you work with us, it doesn't have to be that way. We have made it our mission to make the AC installation process easy and efficient for our customers. That way, they can focus more on living life and enjoying their home while we work hard on their AC install in Johns Island.

Whether you plan to replace a faulty air conditioning system or need a Carrier unit for your new construction home, we have got you covered. We will work with you directly to find the best fit for your home and budget. We are also happy to answer all of your AC installation questions prior to and during your initial service appointment.

 Heater Repair Services Johns Island, SC

Common Signs That You Need a New AC Install in Johns Island, SC

Trying to figure out whether your air conditioner needs to be repaired or replaced can be a tricky decision to make. Most people have a hard time letting things go, and that includes AC units. It can be hard to know when to let go of the old and welcome in the new. To help save you time and make your decision a little easier, keep the following signs in mind. If you find yourself saying, "that sounds like my AC unit," it might be time for a new air conditioning installation.

 HVAC Repair Johns Island, SC

Strange Noises

Almost all air conditioners make a bit of low-level noise as they warm up and turn off. However, if you hear loud, unusual noises, it might be a sign that your air conditioner's time is coming to an end. Buzzing and rattling noises are often indicators of a loose part. Grinding and whistling noises may mean something more serious is happening. Because these issues won't dissipate over time, it's crucial to have your air conditioner examined if you hear loud, strange noises.

Frequent Repairs

Johns Island AC repair is essential for keeping your air conditioner working efficiently. Sometimes, however, it makes more sense from a cost perspective to install a replacement system. This is especially true if your repairs are racking up. Some AC experts suggest using the "$5,000 rule" if you're considering a new AC install. Simply multiply the age of your air conditioner by the costs you have been paying to repair your unit. If that amount is over $5,000, it may make more financial sense to install a new air conditioner rather than pay for expensive repairs throughout the year.

Higher Energy Bills

If you notice that your energy bill has significantly increased in price, it could be a sign that your HVAC unit is struggling to cool your home effectively. Try to be mindful of your air conditioner's cooling cycles. If you notice frequent cycles, even in the summer, it could be the reason for your increased energy bill. In these cases, it's best to have an expert test your system to see if a repair or replacement option is best for your family.

Age of Air Conditioning Unit

This sign is a no-brainer and one of the easiest ways to tell if you need to install a new AC system. On average, your HVAC unit will have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. If your unit is more than ten years old and doesn't have the "pizzaz" that it once had, it might be time to think about installing a new air conditioning unit.

R-22 Refrigerant

Old air conditioners usually require a type of refrigerant called R-22. This substance is very harmful to the environment and has been all but outlawed on newer HVAC systems. If your AC unit is old enough to require R-22, you should give serious thought to replacing your system with a newer, environmentally friendly solution.

Call Action Heating & Air Conditioning Today!

Over our 35+ year history, we have built our reputation on honesty, skilled workmanship, and reasonable pricing. If you are on the hunt for the highest quality air conditioning repair in Johns Island, SC, give our office a call today.

Call us at 843-890-0532

Protecting Your Investment

Your air conditioning system works very hard every day, all year long to keep your home comfy and cool. Machines that work hard year-round are going to require maintenance and ongoing services to stay operational.

As a family-owned and operated HVAC company in Johns Island, SC, we know better than anyone how expensive it can be to maintain an AC unit. We know that money doesn't grow on trees. We also understand that finding last-minute resources to fix an air conditioning system can be challenging. That is why we offer extended warranties for your new or existing AC equipment. With an extended warranty from Action Heating & Air Conditioning, you benefit from repairs, replacement, and additional services covered under warranty. That way, you can enjoy your HVAC products as long as possible.

 Heating And AC Services Johns Island, SC
If you're having second thoughts about purchasing an extended warranty, consider these points:
  • Generally speaking, HVAC equipment lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years. However, warranties provided by the factory will often expire before the service life of your cooling unit is over. With an extended warranty, your indoor comfort system is covered even if the factory warranty expires.
  • Having an extended warranty on your AC system gives you the chance to project and plan for any HVAC costs. This helps you balance your budget and anticipate expenses so you aren't caught off guard. Having a warranty will also help protect your budget against increases in labor and parts costs due to inflation.
  • If you're thinking of selling your home, having an extended warranty may help raise your home's value. You may also be able to transfer your extended warranty to your new home if you choose to do so.

Latest News in Johns Island, SC

Proposed redistricting maps could unite Johns Island under one district

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The redistricting process for the city of Charleston is well underway, and Tuesday night the City Council and the public will review potential renderings for the new districts.Some Johns Islanders are advocating for Johns Island to be all one district, and for the first time in Charleston’s history, there is a potential it could be.Peter Rubino, a re...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The redistricting process for the city of Charleston is well underway, and Tuesday night the City Council and the public will review potential renderings for the new districts.

Some Johns Islanders are advocating for Johns Island to be all one district, and for the first time in Charleston’s history, there is a potential it could be.

Peter Rubino, a resident of Johns Island, says the original draft from the city split Johns Island into three districts.

Through email campaigns and spreading awareness, he and other advocates were able to get it down to two districts, and after tonight, hopefully, one.

“If you don’t speak up, then you’re not going to get what you need,” Rubino said.

He said having all of Johns Island in one district would give Johns Islanders a real say in their future, and true influence in city decisions.

He said he wants the person who represents Johns Island to live on Johns Island, with the hope that the shared experiences of the island will lead to more impactful decision making.

“We want someone who’s going to live here, and understands the issues, what the desires are of the people who live here and have to put up with the traffic and the growth and all of those things. Because if you don’t live here, you don’t see all those things that are going on,” Rubino said.

Tuesday night, he, along with other advocates, plan to attend the City Council Meeting to continue the fight for one district.

The city of Charleston’s Chief Innovation Officer Tracy Mckee said two scenarios will be presented tonight.

She said the first one prioritizes minimizing change, but splits Johns Island into two districts.

“In that scenario, Johns Island has two representatives, but each of those representatives also represent parts of West Ashley as well as James Island,” McKee said.

She said the second, which keeps Johns Island under one district, prioritizes compactness and communities of interest.

In that scenario, Johns Island has only one representative.

Regardless, Mckee says the City is doing its best to listen to the public and accommodate their desires.

“We have made a really good effort to get public opinion this time and bake that opinion into our plans as much as possible,” Mckee said.

As of now, Johns Island is a part of a larger district in West Ashley. Up until this redistricting, it did not have the population to be its own district.

Tuesday’s meeting is at 5 p.m. at the Charleston City Hall at 80 Broad Street. Rubino encourages those passionate about redistricting on Johns Island to sign up to speak.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Newly proposed Charleston City Council districts give Johns Island its own representative

After a decade of booming population growth, Johns Island may get its own representative on Charleston City Council.But making that change could cost a sitting council member their seat.The island is now in District 5, which also spans much of outer West Ashley. It is represented by Councilman Karl Brady, who lives in West Ashley.Two newly proposed City Council district maps...

After a decade of booming population growth, Johns Island may get its own representative on Charleston City Council.

But making that change could cost a sitting council member their seat.

The island is now in District 5, which also spans much of outer West Ashley. It is represented by Councilman Karl Brady, who lives in West Ashley.

Two newly proposed City Council district maps make Johns Island its own district without any extension into West Ashley. That means the City Council member to represent it would have to live on Johns Island.

"There is no one on council right now that drives our roads every day, sends their kids to school here, works here or lives here," said John Zlogar, chairman of the Johns Island Task Force.

The group was established in 2013 to bring together residents and local officials to address Johns Island-specific issues.

While Zlogar said he has no issue with Brady, he said he would like to have a council member who can put their sole focus on the island.

"We will feel like we have someone that has our voice," he said.

The island, which is partially within the city of Charleston and partially within unincorporated Charleston County, has deep roots in agriculture and the city's Black history. Several Black family farms have run their businesses on the island since Reconstruction, when formerly enslaved laborers took over former plantations.

An "urban growth boundary," established across the island limits where agricultural land must be protected and where development is allowed. Most of the city's side of the island is located within the urban growth boundary and as a result has seen a massive influx of residents looking for a lower cost of living than the city's core. Between 2010 and 2020, District 5, the district with Johns Island and West Ashley, grew a staggering 154 percent.

The redistricting process

Charleston Chief Innovation Officer Tracy McKee has led the city through the redistricting process three times in her career. Factoring in population growth between 2010 and 2020, McKee and city staff have been in the process of redrawing the council district boundaries for months.

"Four council members live on the peninsula, but we've had more growth in Berkeley County on Daniel Island and on Johns Island," McKee said.

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau releases new population and demographic data that governments use to redraw voting districts. In 2020, it was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Council voted last summer to delay redistricting until after the fall 2021 election.

Officials try to balance the population size of each district as well as their geographic spread. In Charleston, for example, it would be impractical to include Daniel Island and outer West Ashley in the same district.

Initially, city staff put out one proposal in July. That plan kept all sitting council members within their current districts. None of them were at risk of losing their seat or having to run against each other to keep their seat. But the proposal split Johns island into three districts that included other areas of the city as well.

The map was met with some criticism for the wide span of geography each district covered. Districts were stretched from the peninsula far into West Ashley and District 11, covered parts of West Ashley, James Island and Johns Island.

The League of Women Voters published a commentary in The Post and Courier calling for more compact districts.

"Drawing districts to protect incumbents means the maps defy logic in many places. James Island remains divided into three different districts, one with very dubious contiguity as it crosses briefly over West Ashley and onto the peninsula. Johns Island, now all in District 5, will be divided into three different districts, diluting the voices of those residents," the league wrote.

The league now supports the new proposals, mainly because the districts don't stretch as far across the city.

"They keep communities together. These really prioritize citizen interests," said Leslie Skardon, the director of advocacy for the League of Women Voters.

Impact to incumbents

On Aug. 28, city staff unveiled two alternative maps that took some of that feedback into consideration. The two new maps, referred to as 1A and 1B, are almost identical except for their effects on two current peninsula districts.

Both maps make Johns Island its own district.

To create the Johns Island district, city staff proposed two options. They can move District 3 or District 6 off of the West Side of the peninsula to only cover West Ashley. If District 3 moves off, District 6 will absorb the portion of the West Side that is currently in District 3.

Because District 3 Councilman Jason Sakran lives on the peninsula, he would be drawn out of his district. He would have to run for District 6 against fellow Councilman William Dudley Gregorie. But that seat is not up for election until 2025. In the meantime, depending on when council decides to make the maps effective, a special election would determine who represents the new West Ashley-only version of District 3.

The other scenario would be that District 6 would move off of its portion of the West Side of the peninsula. In that case, Gregorie, who lives also in the West Side, would be drawn into Councilman Sakran's District 3. Because District 3 is up for election in 2023, the two would face off sooner.

Sakran said he would be OK with running against Gregorie in 2023, but he is most favorable of the original map that keeps all council members in their respective districts.

"You are overhauling peoples' elected representatives to the tune of 40 percent of the city's population," Sakran said of the new proposals.

According to the city, if the original proposal is accepted, about 30 percent of the city's population will end up in new council districts. If either of the alternatives are chosen, that number will move up to 39 percent.

Another factor in the process is the establishment of minority-majority districts. Districts 4 and 7 on the all three map proposals are majority-minority districts. They cover the upper peninsula and part of West Ashley, respectively. When the maps were last redrawn in 2010, the city went from having five majority-minority districts to three. Now the city is guaranteed to have two. As demographics shift, it's difficult to group minority voters together and ensure their voice is in the majority in any part of the city, McKee said.

City Council will review the map proposals at its Sept. 13 meeting. No action will be taken. A public hearing will be held in the fall. Residents can view the maps and leave comments online the city's redistricting "Open Town Hall" webpage at www.charleston-sc.gov/Redistricting2020. Email comments are accepted at redistricting@charleston-sc.gov.

Satirical Facebook post brings attention to Fort Johnson renovation

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A Facebook post got a lot of attention after making false claims about the Fort Johnson and May Forest renovation project.The post, which was created on Friday, got over 400 comments from upset and confused residents. It was created by the group “Charleston Municipality,” they made claims that the project is about international shipping and passenger cruise ships. They said on Saturday in a statement that “the post was obviously very satirical.”State Representative Spencer Wet...

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A Facebook post got a lot of attention after making false claims about the Fort Johnson and May Forest renovation project.

The post, which was created on Friday, got over 400 comments from upset and confused residents. It was created by the group “Charleston Municipality,” they made claims that the project is about international shipping and passenger cruise ships. They said on Saturday in a statement that “the post was obviously very satirical.”

State Representative Spencer Wetmore says seeing the Facebook post and reactions from the public was heartbreaking.

“This is a project that we were really proud of,” Wetmore says. “I sort of understood the assignment here that people do not want to see a whole bunch of new development. People are concerned about flooding or concerned about traffic. To me, I certainly don’t want to see a bunch of houses and development there either. The people that made this post are obviously playing on people’s fears of that.”

The real Fort Johnson and May Forest renovation project started in March of 2022 and its goal is to tie together history, nature, research and environmental preservation.

The land on James Island is home to many different historical artifacts dating back to the late 1700′s. For the project to take place, a few old buildings will be torn down to make room for the renovations.

James Island Town Councilman Garrett Milliken says the stakeholders worked hard to keep history and rising sea levels in mind during the planning process.

“While the public might have been restricted with access to these locations in the past, the future will actually invite the public to enjoy the rich history of this location that will be in concordance with the research mission of this area as well,” Milliken says. “Both things are going to happen simultaneously at this location. So, I think it’s a win, win for both perspectives, history and research.”

Currently, the area is home to research for the Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston and the Marine Research Institute. All of their work will continue to move forward at the location after renovations take place.

“It really is the jewel of James Island,” Milliken says. “It has so much history, so much ecological significance. And frankly, the views are spectacular.”

The project website contains detailed maps and plans of what the entire area of Fort Johnson and May Forest should look like in the future. Despite the drama surrounding the Facebook post, Wetmore hopes the community becomes more aware about the actual project taking place.

“I just hope people will get excited about the park,” she says. “I know this Facebook post is just, honestly, just a mean joke.”

The “Charleston Municipality” Facebook group released the following statement on the post:

The post regarding the James Island Global Gateway Terminal was obviously very satirical, as it was intended being that Charleston Municipality is a satirical Facebook page. The main goal behind the post was to bring awareness to the rampant overdevelopment of not only James Island, but the entire Lowcountry, largely at the hands of our local elected officials and review boards. The post angered so many people, and those people are ready to put up a fight against this project. We want the same collective passion from everyone for all the development that is ACTUALLY taking place all around us. This “huge” and impactful project easily got peoples attention, but everyone needs to pay attention to all the projects that take place, as they are directly and negatively impacting our daily lives, largely due to a seemingly lack of oversight and shady deals being given to developers on a daily basis. Everyone must stay vigilant, and fight to preserve what we have before we have no more.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

2 more companies pick Beaufort

Commerce Park building fully leased as companies ready to start operationsFrom staff reportsTwo new companies are beginning operations in Beaufort Commerce Park and are expected to bring 82 jobs to the area over the next few years.Norman USA and Critical Role are each leasing half of the 64,000-square-foot spec building located at 74 Schein Loop. The fully leased building was developed by Magnus Development Partners and construction was completed earlier this year. The construction of an...

Commerce Park building fully leased as companies ready to start operations

From staff reports

Two new companies are beginning operations in Beaufort Commerce Park and are expected to bring 82 jobs to the area over the next few years.

Norman USA and Critical Role are each leasing half of the 64,000-square-foot spec building located at 74 Schein Loop. The fully leased building was developed by Magnus Development Partners and construction was completed earlier this year. The construction of an additional building on the site is being planned.

“The addition of these two companies to the Beaufort Commerce Park demonstrates that the city’s commitment to improving the park – from adding infrastructure to the construction of the spec building – is paying off,” said Mayor Stephen Murray. “We are determined, over time, to diversify our economy beyond the military and the hospitality industry, so that young people can see a future for themselves and their families.”

Headquartered in La Palma, Calif., Norman USA manufactures and distributes window treatments worldwide. Its site in Beaufort – its first on the East Coast – will be used for distribution of its products. The company is expected to start operations next month will add and 67 jobs over a five-year span and invest an estimated $16.17 million, according to Charlie Stone, senior project manager at the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation (BCEDC), which has helped to develop Commerce Park in partnership with the City of Beaufort and Beaufort County.

“Norman USA is excited to announce plans to establish an East Coast presence in Beaufort,” said Alex Liu, vice president of operations for Norman USA. “In addition to the excellent support we have received from the state, county and city, our decision was reinforced by the proximity to ports and surrounding resources. We look forward to becoming a part of the Beaufort community as we continue to manufacture and distribute award-winning window coverings.”

Critical Role is a multi-platform video gaming company based in Los Angeles. It will use the facility to distribute merchandise related to its video game company. The company expects to hire 15 people, and is planning to open in October.

Beaufort Commerce Park is a 196-acre site located on U.S. Highway 21 and S.C. Highway 116. The park is located in a Federal Opportunity Zone and eligible for New Market Tax Credits. Surrounding industries include Geismar North America, Flint Group Inc., Harris Pillow Supply, and GlassWRX SC. The property is owned by the City of Beaufort and is priced at $30,000/acre. The fee is negotiable based upon job creation and a company’s level of investment.

Norman USA is hiring. Interested parties can email their resume to NormanCareers@NormanUSA.com.

Critical Role, a multi-platform video gaming company headquartered in Los Angeles, will use the facility to distribute merchandise related to its video game company. It expects to hire 15 people, and is expected to also open in October.

BCECD Executive Director John O’Toole, speaking at the Sept. 13 Beaufort City Council work session, said that Magnus is currently in the engineering phase to build a 72,000-square-foot spec building next to the building finished earlier this year.

In addition to the Norman USA and Critical, two manufacturing companies are expected to bring jobs to the Beaufort area.

Materials Research Group, a glass manufacturer based in New Jersey, is planning to begin operations by November, according to Stone. It has invested $4 million, and expects to create 26 new jobs at its 10,000-square-foot plant. The company specializes in ready-to-press glass powders and various glass components used in aerospace, medical, battery and other markets.

Knight’s Companies, a concrete manufacturer with operations in South Carolina and Georgia, has acquired Lowcountry Concrete, just outside Commerce Park, Stone said, and plans to add 80 positions. Stone said that the company was very complimentary of the City’s responsiveness as it determined whether to expand here.

The Beaufort Commerce Park is a 199.5 acre industrial park located in the City of Beaufort. The property is owned by the City of Beaufort and is priced at $30,000/acre, negotiable based upon job creation and investment.

Bridging the gap: Hilton Head, Beaufort County Council could reach agreement on U.S. 278 soon

Months of gridlock between the Town of Hilton Head and Beaufort County may come to an end soon to pave a clear path for the U.S. 278 Corridor project.Since spring of this year, Hilton Head and the county have been locked in what state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, compared to a ping-pong match over their vision for changes to U.S. 278 approaching the island. Disagreement on whether the island should be connected to the mainland by one six-lane bridge, as the county envisions, or a pair of three-lane bridges preferred by thousands of isl...

Months of gridlock between the Town of Hilton Head and Beaufort County may come to an end soon to pave a clear path for the U.S. 278 Corridor project.

Since spring of this year, Hilton Head and the county have been locked in what state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, compared to a ping-pong match over their vision for changes to U.S. 278 approaching the island. Disagreement on whether the island should be connected to the mainland by one six-lane bridge, as the county envisions, or a pair of three-lane bridges preferred by thousands of island residents, has been the most prominent of several contentious points.

The Town Council debated the county’s amendments to Hilton Head’s proposed “memo of understanding” Tuesday night, a high-profile agenda item that brought dozens of residents to the council chambers.

Last month, a county committee voted to “narrow the scope” of the project in an attempt to get it moving. On Sept. 12, it agreed to send one last “memorandum of understanding” to the town to reach a middle ground on the project. The holdup came after the Town of Hilton Head recommended that another traffic study be conducted.

After over two hours of discussion and public comments on the county’s changes — which some members of the public said were an attempt to “bully” and “vassalize” the Town of Hilton Head — Mayor John McCann said the council would send a new version of the MOU to the county for consideration at the Beaufort County Council’s meeting next Monday.

“I will then call a special meeting either next week or the following week to vote on (the MOU), up or down, when we get the county’s comments back,” McCann said.

The memo presented in the council meeting’s agenda packet was thoroughly struck through with red marks, indicating where the county had suggested changes of language or removal of specific parts of the memo. Ward 4 Councilwoman Tamara Becker and some residents were frustrated to find the memo included in the packet was also different to the version presented at the meeting.

In the county’s revisions to the memo, the two bodies would “agree that one bridge will be designed and constructed.” It also proposed the county and town create a committee to select a firm for an independent review of the project’s impact.

The proposed members would be the county’s transportation program manager, its assistant administrator for infrastructure, and the county administrator alongside the Hilton Head town manager and assistant town manager for community development.

The uneven balance of representatives on the committee concerned some Hilton Head residents, who saw the proposed apportionment as a way for the county to exert its influence.

“As a final insult, the County Council (in the MOU) even attempts to wrest control of the independent consultant selection process from Hilton Head town government,” Gray Smith, a resident of Hilton Head, said at the meeting. “(County Council Chairman Joe Passiment) and the County Council are once again attempting to bully Town Council into acquiescing to and approving their totally one-sided county MOU version.”

Another resident, Richard Busy, said he was one of the nearly 10,000 who signed a petition urging Town Council to reject the current MOU, despite the county’s claim that it is willing to move forward with its plan with or without Hilton Head’s cooperation. The move could also split the project into smaller pieces, leaving the town with more responsibility to shoulder alone.

“There truly should be an independent review done. Too much is at stake,” Busy said. “The threats from the County Council should be ignored. We should not surrender to the county.”

Tuesday night’s public criticism was a carry over from social media outcry following County Councilman Stu Rodman’s vote in favor of the one-bridge county resolution. Rodman represents Hilton Head’s District 11 on the County Council.

Despite the apparent distance between the two parties, Davis said the town and county are closer to an agreement than it seems.

Near the end of the lengthy debate, Davis said the Town Council had identified a set of concerns he felt confident he could convince County Council to address on Monday.

One of those was securing equal representation for the town and county on the committee to select an independent review firm. At the meeting, Rodman said the county would be willing to adjust the committee’s makeup to address the issue. Becker petitioned for the revised committee to include citizen representatives as well as county and town officials.

Another attempt to reach an agreement, Davis said, was an additional paragraph to affirm the Town of Hilton Head approving the MOU would not be construed as municipal approval for the project without the independent end-to-end study being completed.

“Moreover, (the town) is expressly withholding municipal consent until ... it’s had a chance to get the data from this independent contractor, to assess that data and make an informed decision,” Davis said.

Including the full scope of work for the project and potential review, Davis said, is another potential addition to a finalized MOU.

Rodman said he and the County Council were “in agreement” with much of what was discussed Tuesday evening, and that he supported the second independent review moving ahead. His primary concern, though, is the potential rising costs if the project is bogged down longer.

There has been a discrepancy in how much a role inflation is projected to play in the project costs. Davis said the estimated costs have risen $8.5 million in the last five months, while Rodman previously predicted costs could rise $50 million with a six- to nine-month delay.

What is important for the project’s funding, Davis said, is to ensure the project isn’t bifurcated or delayed long enough to lose the $120 million that the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank has set aside for construction.

“I don’t mean to say that if we continue ping-ponging back and forth that money doesn’t become at risk, because it will,” Davis said. “What I’m telling you is, based on what’s happened so far, it’s not yet at risk.”

Town officials acknowledged the need for compromise on their end as well. Ward 6 Councilman Glenn Stanford said if the county is willing to address the issues raised by Hilton Head in the MOU, he’d be willing to accept a single-bridge construction plan.

“I say that hesitantly because I don’t want one bridge, I want two bridges,” Stanford said. “But I understand that the bridges are not within the town limits of Hilton Head Island, so we don’t have much jurisdiction over that. I’m willing to accept that as a concept.”

Ward 3 Councilman David Ames agreed that at this point in the process, the town should “do its darndest” to mitigate the environmental and traffic impacts of a one-bridge construction.

With both sides prepared to make concessions, future language on the MOU should be adjusted to affirm the town and county as equal partners in the project, Ward 1 Councilman Alex Brown said.

“When you start to talk about the benefits of the project, we can talk about that both ways — off island and on-island,” Brown said. “But when you talk about ... the negative impacts, that’s a one-way street. There’s no way that we can say we’re not equal partners when (the town) is absorbing all of the impacts.”

Becker said while she understands the frustration some harbor regarding how long the project has been discussed without significant progress, it’s essential that all parties involved come to the table and make sure construction is done right.

“Keep in mind that what’s good for Hilton Head is good for the county, and is good for the state,” Becker said. “So we stick together, and we make sure that this bridge, whatever it is, is the best it can be for our residents.”

This story was originally published September 21, 2022 9:37 AM.

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