From The Blog

Covenant Change Approved Annual Meeting Signals New Management Style

Two themes dominated the March 18 KICA annual meeting. First, the association is in excellent financial shape with an $11.6 million balance in all funds including $3.6 million in operations and $8.0 million in major repairs and replacement. Second, directors are committed to a new management style in which the board focuses on long-range planning and turns day-to-day management of association responsibilities over to the professional staff .

Board candidates Armand Glassman and Paul Roberts were elected by acclamation. Th e other major news was that the woodlands preservation covenant amendment proposal was approved with an 85% favorable vote (4,483 for and 815 against). Th is vote will allow the association to use reserve funds to make grants to the Kiawah Conservancy for preserving wildlife habitat home sites. The board will soon consider criteria on which to base such grants. In addition, this change allows the board more flexibility in spending for amenities.

The special award drawing for a $500 assessment rebate went to members Tom & Lois James of 51 Burroughs Hall.

In her outgoing director remarks, Avril Fenwick stated that the new governance structure was much needed and that it will require some “heavy thinking” on the part of the board and the staff . She also appealed to all female members regarding the need for women to run for a director position in the association. Finally, she received many thanks for her leadership regarding approval of the woodlands preservation proposal.

Outgoing Chairman of the Board Dick Sula cited the association’s many accomplishments this year including new governance, new planning process and approval of the wood-lands proposal (see Sula Completes Term as Chairman of the Board article).

Other major activities last year involved infrastructure upgrading such as the Sandcastle fitness center and bathhouse remodeling, policies for dune vegetation pruning and mosquito misting systems, and excellent teamwork with the Town of Kiawah Island.

During member comments, one member proposed an advisory motion, which asked the board to confine working and executive sessions to personnel, legal and contractual matters. A voice vote was taken; the motion did not pass.

Sula Completes Term As Chairman Of The Board

Dick Sula completed his three-year term on the association’s board at the March 18 annual meeting. He served as chairman of the board since March 2006. Sula offered these thoughts at his term’s end.

Outgoing Chair’s Report

As this board completes the 2006-2007 year, three significant areas occupied much of our time and took concerted efforts. We intended to concentrate on upgrading our infrastructure. More board emphasis was to be directed toward preserving or enhancing the island’s environment. Finally, we recognized the need to modify the association’s organizational structure so as to both operate more efficiently and to allow the board to do effective strategic planning.

Infrastructure Upgrades

Phase III of the Sandcastle upgrade is nearing completion, and we expect to be enjoying all parts of the refurbished complex by mid-May of this year. When completed, members will enjoy a first-class, 2,780 square foot fitness facility, with upgraded equipment, and a complementary 1,390 square-foot aerobics room that boasts a state-of-the-art multiple use floor. Members will also enjoy totally renovated bathhouse facilities, as well as a well-appointed poolside snack bar. The credit for bringing this project to successful completion goes to an active community center advisory committee, the ad hoc renovations committee chartered to further define the scope of the work and the board, acting as a committee-of-the-whole, which synthesized all recommendations and authorized the work.

Other major infrastructure projects included completion of the bulkhead built to prevent erosion at the Cinder Creek pavilion and on Blue Heron Pond Road and initial design work for construction of the additional canoe/kayak storage for the relocation of the floating docks at that location. We anticipate construction to begin by early April.

Finally, the Rhett’s Bluff fireplace chimney has been repaired and the pavilion was reroofed and repainted along with other facilities at this location. Plans for a permanent restroom facility to support the docks, boat launch, and the pavilion amenities are in the works, with estimated completion in late fall of this year. It should receive considerably more use by the membership in the future.

Environmental Improvements

Kiawah remains a jewel among South Carolina’s barrier islands, and it has been developed based upon sound, environmentally sensitive principles. Your board has heard the membership’s desires to keep this special place as natural as possible, and we have taken several steps to accomplish this task.

Our land and lakes management advisory committee first addressed the issue of potentially detrimental pruning practices on the dunes in late 2005. An ad hoc committee was established and charged with the task of building on the LLMAC’s work. The task was to develop an effective and workable policy for the annual pruning of dunes vegetation, which would permit reasonable ocean views for owners of beachfront property, while assuring the health of dunes vegetation, dunes habitat and the preservation of the dunes themselves. Many members assisted by providing input. The board approved the resulting program in June, and its first year has been very successful.

Your board acted proactively when the potentially environmentally destructive fallout of the mosquito misting systems was identified. Further installations and use of the existing systems were suspended in October. Experts supporting both the continued, unrestricted use of misting systems, and those who advocated their restriction or ban were engaged to educate the board and the membership. This was the correct approach at the right time, and one that has resulted in a sensible and much safer program for the future controlled use of these systems.

The capstone in the environmental area was the woodlands preservation initiative that occasioned the proposed covenant amendment on this year’s ballot. It proposed that the permitted uses of contribution to reserves fees include grants to tax exempt organizations whose purpose is to conserve natural lands and habitat on Kiawah Island. This initiative directly complemented the establishment of an announced board policy stating that KICA common areas would not be converted from “natural” to “developed” without a compelling reason. This proposal clearly showed the board’s belief that the permanent protection of currently natural habitat areas is key to preserving the existing level and variety of wildlife that we now enjoy. Avril Fenwick spearheaded this initiative, and after examining several options, the board developed an effective solution. It was realistic in answering the question, “What can KICA do?”, effective in that it would permit the conservancy to accelerate its program, and flexible in that it would allow future boards to control the release of association funds. Avril provided the vision and led the board in developing the path. Treasurer John Wilson provided the fiscally conservative input to the proposal. The successful passage of this proposal is key to decelerating the pace of habitat destruction and curbing the diminishment of Kiawah’s natural ambience.

Organizational Modifications

The board recognized that it was spending more and more time addressing operational issues. In order for the board to render decisions on these issues, staff was asked to educate and familiarize the board with background, past policies, and other operational implications, with input from committees. As a result, many operational issues took months to resolve when a reasonable decision by a qualified staff could have been made much earlier. The most negative result of this situation was the board neither had time for, nor did, any significant long-range planning.

After reviewing a professional consultant’s recommendations and some serious introspection, a new governance model emerged, and was implemented in December. Under the model, the board establishes ends, which staff implements. The general manager is now the chief operating officer, and handles all operational matters. The board establishes policies that proscribe the COO’s authority. Many intricacies of how this new structure ultimately works are still being framed. Russ Warren and Russ Crane will continue to lead this transition.


This has been a very busy and exciting year, and it has been a privilege to act in behalf of the premier community association in the United States. It has been an extremely positive experience working with the members of this board, every one of whom has brought both expertise and dedication to community service. Finally, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the association staff. Under Joe Bunting’s leadership, they have proven to be the most qualified, dedicated and energetic community association staff around. We do not thank them enough, so please show them appreciation whenever possible.