IOP leaders “surprised” by SCDOT’s denial of plan to eliminate parking

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ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – State transportation leaders say they will weigh in on the Isle of Palms plan to implement paid parking. This comes less than 24 hours after SCDOT says IOP leader’s don’t have the authority to eliminate parking on Palm Boulevard.

Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll says the ruling by SCDOT came as a surprise to the city. The ruling, less than a day after city leaders voted to eliminate parking along one side of Palm Boulevard. Some say the ruling is a win, Carroll says the city now has a decision to make.

“I think it’s a huge win, it’s a great win for the Facebook group and the followers and supporters of my petition,” says Michael Barnett, the creator of a petition to defund beach island communities.

The battle over parking wages on. Landside parking along Palm Boulevard was eliminated on Tuesday but was back by Wednesday after the SCDOT ruling. Mayor Carroll says the city was caught off guard by the ruling.

“It was a surprise to us because the SCDOT has given us the ability to control parking along the boulevard for really because of public safety,” says Carroll.

City leaders cited eliminating parking on Palm Boulevard was to improve public safety for pedestrians and motorists along the road.

“It’s really kind of opened our eyes, you know if a police car or a fire truck needs to get down Palm Boulevard, now there’s room for them to go up and down the roads,” says Mayor Carroll.

For IOP leaders it’s back to the drawing board, the proposal will return to the public safety committee for further review including the city potentially asking SCDOT for more crosswalks and signage. For now, landside parking along Palm Boulevard will remain off limits because of the city’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“It has been extended for another 60 days, that supersedes the SCDOT telling us that we can’t do it,” says Carroll. “This is an emergency order.”

While Barnett, whose petition has received thousands of signatures, says the ruling is a win but he’s calling on state leaders to do more.

“They need to do as much as they can to prevent these islands from controlling parking in state maintained right of ways,” says Barnett.

A battle far from the 11th hour, Barnett says the fight over parking restrictions is just beginning.

“And I think in 2021, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach and the Isle of Palms are in for a rude awakening,” says Barnett.

Despite yesterday’s ruling on eliminating parking, Mayor Carroll says the city will move forward with implementing island-wide paid parking to offset costs from continued growth across the Lowcountry.

In a statement, Secretary of Transportation for SCDOT, Christy Halls says the department hasn’t received a formal request regarding paid parking.

“It’s also my understanding that the City has not formally submitted a final proposed plan for paid parking.  We stand ready to assist the City with a review of their final proposal to ensure that it is safe and complies with the spirit and intent of the law,” says Hall.

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