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Too Big? Too Heavy? We’ve Got Strong Men to Help!

Too Big? Too Heavy? We’ve Got Strong Men To Help!

If you have ever moved to a new house, apartment, or office by yourself, you know how much of a pain it can be. The moving process can be filled with many different emotions. On the one hand, you’re probably excited about the new adventure that lies ahead of you. On the other hand, you’re probably dreading the heavy lifting, pulling, packing, organizing, and logistical aspects of moving.

At Strong Men Moving, our goal is to remove that dread so you can focus on the fun and productive times ahead. With a team of hardworking, experienced moving professionals on your side, moving to a new home or office is easy, like Sunday morning.

The best part? As local, trusted movers in Sullivan's Island, you won’t have to take a loan out from the bank to pay for our moving services. We believe in hard work, friendly attitudes, efficiency, and fair pricing.

Service Areas

Service
Convenience is King

Convenience is King

Strong Men Moving is a full-service moving company in Sullivan's Island. We run our trucks at 110%, meaning we go above and beyond what other movers in Sullivan's Island are willing to do.

Are you moving from out of state? Is your new house hard to find? Don’t have the time or patience to pack and wrap all of your belongings? Don’t sweat it – we’ve got your back. There’s no job that’s too large or too small for our strong men to handle, and there’s no place in the Lowcountry that we won’t go for you.

When we say convenience is king, we mean it.  We’re talking nights, weekends, and availability 24-hours a day from Monday through Saturday. Our goal is to make your move as stress-free and simple as possible. That way, you have time to focus on enjoying your new home or office, while we worry about hauling your double vanity into the back of our truck.

When you bring in the Strong Men, you can rest assured that you’re getting a full-service, friendly experience from the minute we pull into your driveway to the minute we shake your hand goodbye. Unlike some moving companies in Sullivan's Island, punctuality is not our poison. We strive to arrive on time to each job that we are hired to perform.

Here are some of the most popular moving services our customers use:

Residential Moving

Residential Moving

Along with divorce and the loss of a job, moving is listed as one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through in their lifetime. When you consider the packing, the lifting, the scheduling, and the general disruption that moving can have on your life, it’s easy to understand why.

As the premier moving company in Sullivan's Island, our goal is to carry your moving burden, so you can stay focused on your daily life. You can rest easy knowing our movers in Sullivan's Island will always show up to your home with a positive attitude, friendly smile, and motivation to work. We treat your property like it was our own and take great care in handling all the items we move for you.

In addition, we prep our team of movers for many situations and provide thorough training on the fundamentals of moving, packing, risk management, and more.

If you own specialty items such as art, antiques, or other valuables, we will take every precaution necessary to ensure your possessions arrive to your new home safe and sound.

Whether you’re moving to a new home down the street or are coming from another state, we have the experience, tools, and professional movers to do the job correctly. We even offer additional residential moving services that include packing, unpacking, overnight storage, and much more.

Call or text us today to discover the full range of our residential moving specialties.

Labor-Only Moving

Labor-Only Moving

Do you already have reliable transportation but still need a team of professional movers to handle your heavy lifting? Strong Men Moving now offers labor-only moving services in Sullivan's Island for both residential and commercial moving projects.

A few benefits of labor-only moving include:

  • Reduce damage – our professional movers in Sullivan's Island will make sure your belongings are properly loaded into your truck, reducing the probability of damaged or broken items.
  • Maximize Space – With years of experience in the moving industry, we have a sixth sense for space-efficient packing and loading. Our strong men will make the most out of your truck’s usable space, which can help reduce trip time and save money on gas.
  • Quicker Moves – A team of Strong Men Moving will almost always be able to load and unload your belongings faster than a group of your friends. It’s nothing personal! With our team of professionals, you can spend less time filling up your truck and more time on getting to your new home or office.
  • Save Money – Using your friends to help you move almost certainly means you will have to compensate them one way or another. Why spend your money on cases of beer and pizza when you can use it for a safer, quicker move?
Commercial Moving

Commercial Moving

Sullivan's Island and the surrounding metropolitan area is a hot spot for business. Dozens of companies scout Sullivan's Island each year as a new place to call home, where they can broaden their horizons and find new clients. What some businesses do not take into account is the logistics and headaches involved with moving to a new location.

Strong Men Moving has built a reputation as a leader in commercial moving services in Sullivan's Island. We have the tools, team, and experience necessary to facilitate a smooth move for your business at a reasonable price.

In our experience as a commercial moving company in Sullivan's Island, we have discovered that it can be complicated to move to a new business location. During this transition, we know that you need:

  • Your office furniture, equipment, and supplies packed and secured safely
  • Storage space
  • A detailed, efficient plan of action to ensure an organized move
  • Minimal disruptions to your day-to-day operations

To make sure we meet the requirements above, we will speak with you at length about your upcoming commercial business relocation. That way, we get a better understanding of the logistics involved. We will also provide you with a free quote, so you can plan your budget ahead of time.

At Strong Men Moving, some common commercial moving services include:

  • Pickup and delivery of your office equipment and supplies
  • Loading and unloading office items
  • Packing and unpacking your office supplies
  • Assembly of your office furniture
  • Provide all necessary moving equipment and packing materials

Whether you have to move a few office chairs down the street or need help transitioning to a new location, we are here to serve.

Refuse Removal and Disposal

Refuse Removal and Disposal

Did you find a bunch of unwanted junk after moving to a new office? Do you have an old, stinky couch taking up room in your basement? Don’t sweat it – we will remove the old junk from your home or office quicker than you can say, “trash it!”

With Strong Men Moving’s refuse removal services, we can haul away all the heavy, unusable items that your trash service won’t pick up.

A few common junk removal items that we can remove for you are:

  • Couches
  • Chairs
  • Bed frames
  • Futons
  • Dressers
  • Mattresses
Professional Packing

Professional Packing

If you’re like most average folks living in the U.S., you probably have hundreds of items lying around your house that need to be packed before you can move to a new home. Packing can be a massive source of frustration, especially for busy families and professionals who don’t have the time or patience to pack.

Why risk a sprained back or a throbbing headache when Strong Men Moving can handle all the packing for you? With our professional packing services in Sullivan's Island, you can sit back and sip some sweet tea while we pack your keepsakes, furniture, electronics, clothes, and more. If you have valuable items like family heirlooms or fragile china, we will take extra care to make sure those items stay safe and unbroken during your upcoming move.

Why hire a moving company in Sullivan's Island like Strong Men Moving to help you pack? Here’s why most of our clients want us to pack for them:

  • Packing is a tedious, time-consuming chore
  • Professional packing minimizes the risk of injury
  • Professional packing reduces the risk of damaged items
  • Professional packing lets you focus on the more important aspects of moving, like setting up HVAC or internet service

Don’t have many items to pack this time around? Ask us about our high-quality packing supplies like boxes, tape, furniture pads, and covers. We’re here to help in any way that we can!

Cleanout Services

Cleanout Services

If you have a large-scale cleanout project, we can help with that, too. Our home and commercial cleanout services are great if you need to dispose of a large number of items in a short period of time.

All you have to do is give us a call, and we’ll come to your location to remove your unwanted items, taking care not to damage your home or office. Once we have removed your refuse, we’ll dispose of it in an environmentally-friendly fashion to help protect the Lowcountry we love so much.

A few common cleanout services in Sullivan's Island include:

  • Estate cleanouts
  • House cleanouts
  • Basement cleanouts
  • Garage cleanouts
  • Foreclosure cleanouts
  • Apartment cleanouts
  • Office cleanouts
  • Commercial space cleanouts
  • Storage space cleanouts

General Labor Services

Are you working on a project that requires a team of strong laborers? Sometimes, hiring your friends just doesn’t cut it. When you need a team that arrives on time, works hard, and does so with a smile, Strong Men Moving has got the help you need! As trusted movers in Sullivan's Island, we employ seasoned labor professionals that can assist you with your next indoor or outdoor project. Ready to get started? Call or text us today so that we can get a good understanding of your upcoming project, and how our team can save you time, effort, and money.

Get Help Now

About Strong Men Moving

Established in 2019, Strong Men Moving has quickly become a leading moving company in Sullivan's Island, SC. We have built our reputation on reliability, performance, price, and a positive attitude. We truly feel privileged to serve the residents of South Carolina. Our goal is to provide quality customer service with speed and diligence to all clients. We treat all of our customers the same, whether they hire us for a multi-facility commercial move or just need help loading and unloading a moving truck.

About Strong Men Moving

Strong Men Moving offers service in the following communities and beyond:

  • Bluffton
  • Charleston
  • Columbia
  • Daniel Island
  • Folly Beach
  • Greenville
  • Hanahan
  • Hilton Head Island
  • Isle of Palms
  • James Island
  • Johns Island
  • Kiawah Island
  • Ladson
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Nexton
  • North Charleston
  • Seabrook Island
  • Sullivan’s Island
  • Summerville
  • West Ashley

Do you have questions?

Need a quote on your upcoming residential or commercial move? We are here to help however
possible. You can reach us via phone at 843-830-6305 or by email at [email protected].

We hope to hear from you soon!

Latest News in Sullivan's Island

South Carolina Department Of Health And Environmental Control ‘Concerned’ About Plans To Trim Maritime Forest

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye NewsThe South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is “concerned” about how and how many trees would be removed from Sullivan’s Island’s Maritime Forest under a plan created for the town by consultant Thomas & Hutton. In a Dec. 20, 2021 letter, DHEC Beachfront Permitting Project Manager Matthew Slagel wrote that the plan would require a major critical area permit. The plan was developed after a divided Sullivan’s Island Town Council reached an agr...

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is “concerned” about how and how many trees would be removed from Sullivan’s Island’s Maritime Forest under a plan created for the town by consultant Thomas & Hutton. In a Dec. 20, 2021 letter, DHEC Beachfront Permitting Project Manager Matthew Slagel wrote that the plan would require a major critical area permit. The plan was developed after a divided Sullivan’s Island Town Council reached an agreement with homeowners who live near the Maritime Forest, apparently settling a lawsuit originally filed in July 2010 and permitting the removal of trees and other vegetation from the Forest. Under the plan, based on a 2014 survey of trees 6 inches in diameter and larger, in one section of the forest, 167 of 174 trees would be removed. In another section, only 16 of 79 trees would remain in place. “DHEC found that in certain areas, 96% of all trees would be removed.

Studies by three federal agencies, including NOAA and FEMA, show that the density and height of vegetation and trees are our most important protection from the No. 1 threat on the island: hurricane storm surge,” said Karen Byko, president of Sullivan’s Island for All, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest and accreted land in its natural state for the benefit, protection and enjoyment of all. In the Dec. 20 letter, Slagel also raised concerns about how trees and vegetation would be removed. “You have proposed to use a skid steer mower mounted to a small rubber-tired tractor or similar machinery within this area to cut at ground level and mulch in place trees and shrubs 3 inches and smaller. It is our opinion that utilizing machinery in the beach/ dune system will disturb and alter existing soils and topography, even if the trees and shrubs themselves are cut at ground level,” the letter said. Slagel also pointed out that the DHEC Bureau of Water Coastal Stormwater Permitting is working with Thomas & Hutton to obtain information about how changes in vegetation cover might affect stormwater runoff. According to a Sullivan’s Island for All press release, the DHEC letter “shows that this plan is environmentally unsound and goes far beyond vegetation thinning and trimming.” “As DHEC’s stormwater division noted, removing these thousands of trees and shrubs puts the island at much greater risk of flooding,” Byko said. “These trees work as nature’s stormwater pumps. Taking them away for better views puts every homeowner on the island at greater risk.” DHEC’s concerns are not the only thing holding up the implementation of plans to remove trees and other vegetation from the Forest. Of the four Council members who voted to approve the settlement agreement with nearby homeowners, only two remain in office: Greg Hammond and Kaye Smith. Tim Reese was defeated in the May 4 municipal election, and Chauncey Clark lost his bid to unseat Mayor Pat O’Neil.

The new Council, which apparently is considering its options in its effort to change the terms of the agreement, voted in September 2021 to ask the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District William W. “Billy’ Wilkins to assess the agreement. Wilkins determined that the agreement is invalid “because its provisions improperly restrict the legislative/governmental powers of successor Town Councils, improperly divest the town of legislative/governmental powers and improperly restrict the proprietary functions of the town.”

Sullivan’s Island residents remain divided over forest as legal expert publishes opinion

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) – Residents of Sullivan’s Island continue to remain divided days after a legal expert published an opinion stating the town’s settlement agreement cannot be enforced.William Wilkins, an attorney hired by Sullivan’s Island, published a 120-page opinion that states the town’s settlement agreement from last year regarding cutting the Maritime Forest is “invalid and unenforceable” under South Carolina law.“The way that the mediation settlement is s...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) – Residents of Sullivan’s Island continue to remain divided days after a legal expert published an opinion stating the town’s settlement agreement cannot be enforced.

William Wilkins, an attorney hired by Sullivan’s Island, published a 120-page opinion that states the town’s settlement agreement from last year regarding cutting the Maritime Forest is “invalid and unenforceable” under South Carolina law.

“The way that the mediation settlement is structured, cutting can begin immediately, and once cutting begins out in the Maritime Forest, we can’t undo it,” Sullivan’s Island for All President Karen Byko said.

The settlement agreement was first agreed upon in October 2020.

“That agreement basically allows the town to cut huge swaths of vegetation out of the Maritime Forest at the request of a few residents who want to cut down the forest in order to gain ocean views and breezes from their homes,” Byko said.

Laurie Volkmann lives across the street from the Maritime Forest and uses it to go on walks with her dog. She said the forest’s fate has polarized the town.

“The issue has been overblown a little bit to be ‘The people on the beach just want to have an oceanside view,’ and knowing the neighbors I’ve talked to, that’s not their primary concern,” Volkmann said.

Byko, meanwhile, said she wants the town to move forward immediately with a judicial review and undo the agreement to keep the forest intact.

Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neill declined to have an on-camera interview on Thursday.

However, he released the following statement to Live 5:

“As Mayor, I read the opinion with considerable interest, and Mr. Wilkins’ analysis and conclusions seemed to be very clear and unequivocal. Town council has proceeded very methodically, and we will continue to do so.”

As for Volkmann, she said she believes in maintaining the forest to ward off pests and invasive species, but not cutting it all down.

“I would hope that as a community we could all read this and say, ‘We’re OK with some maintenance. We understand that we’re not just going to chop down all the trees, so that we have no Maritime Forest,’” Volkmann said.

The town’s administrator said over the phone that the town council will discuss the opinion over the coming days.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Sullivan’s Island Town Council votes to seek legal review of maritime forest settlement

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Town Council affirmed it would seek an independent lawyer to review the town’s rights under a settlement agreement that cleared the way to remove parts of a maritime forest.The council voted 4-2 during a Sept. 29 special meeting in favor of seeking a legal review of the lawsuit, part of a decadelong issue centering around a conserved forest on the island’s southern half of its beachfront side.The maritime forest, once scrubland, has developed over the years into a mature thicket of tr...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Town Council affirmed it would seek an independent lawyer to review the town’s rights under a settlement agreement that cleared the way to remove parts of a maritime forest.

The council voted 4-2 during a Sept. 29 special meeting in favor of seeking a legal review of the lawsuit, part of a decadelong issue centering around a conserved forest on the island’s southern half of its beachfront side.

The maritime forest, once scrubland, has developed over the years into a mature thicket of trees and wetlands growing outward toward the Atlantic Ocean.

It sprouted on slowly accreting land, a side effect of jetties that stop ocean sand from drifting away from the island — a rarity in South Carolina, where most islands are eroding at various rates.

Four residents living next to the forest filed a lawsuit in 2010 against the town and its council, alleging the government had violated their property rights.

Among their chief complaints: The overgrown, unruly brush harbored vermin and mosquitoes, limited breeze flow and presented a fire hazard.

A local ordinance permitted these residents to trim their bushes to be no less than 3 feet tall, but the town had denied their applications to do so, the suit alleged.

The issue wouldn’t be decided until 10 years later. On Oct. 2, 2020, following private mediation talks, the council voted 4-3 to settle the lawsuit, thus greenlighting the plan to thin the forest.

The agreement reached between the plaintiffs and the town stipulated several tree species and shrubs would be cut depending on their location in the forest, some with diameters as large as 17 inches.

Opponents to the settlement maintain the green space must be conserved and nature should be left to run its course. Many of them had attended the most recent council meeting, requesting members bring the settlement back before a judge to clarify certain parts.

More than two dozen people gathered at the Sept. 29 special meeting, spreading out to follow social distancing guidelines. Some stood along the crowded room’s back wall, eager to speak.

But there was no opportunity for public comment; the council entered executive session almost immediately after the meeting began, much to the chagrin of residents.

Council members debated for around an hour before coming to a vote.

Members Scott Millimet, Justin Novak, Mayor Patrick O’Neil and Gary Visser voted in favor of hiring outside legal counsel while Greg Hammon and Kaye Smith voted against. Councilman Bachman Smith was not present.

Susan Middaugh, who has lived on Sullivan’s since 1980, said she was thrilled with the council’s decision to seek a legal review of the settlement.

Middaugh serves as a board member with Sullivan’s Island For All, a local conservation group staunchly opposed to the settlement. Her main issue is the manner in which the lawsuit was settled, she said.

The four council members who had supported settling weren’t forthcoming during their campaigns on how they felt about preserving the maritime forest, Middaugh said.

But two of them were ousted during the May election, their seats replaced with council members who both oppose the settlement.

Now, conservationists such as Middaugh are hopeful the current council, with its 5-2 majority, will consider any legal recourse that could be taken to amend the lawsuit.

One piece of the settlement the conservationists have pushed against is a “good faith and fair dealing” clause, which stipulates parties to the agreement can’t hinder the cutting work.

A lawyer whom a group of conservationists hired to examine the settlement raised a key question: Would this current agreement unfairly “bind” the council from making future public policy decisions?

“We’re trying to get (Town Council) to at least get a judicial review,” Middaugh explained. “It doesn’t directly challenge the settlement, it’s like a judicial review of the terms of the settlement to see if it’s legal.”

Debate over how to best manage the maritime forest has sharply divided this close-knit island community. The two sides — those for and those against the settlement — fundamentally disagree over many of the issues at play.

Vermin and mosquitoes exist everywhere on the island, and the brush doesn’t present the kind of fire hazard a pine forest would, for example. Breezes are blocked primarily because of large homes stacked several stories high and built next to one another, Middaugh said.

Conservationists also believe the forest serves as an important protective barrier against potential storm surges. But one pro-settlement resident said if a major hurricane hit Sullivan’s Island, the dense vegetation wouldn’t stand a chance.

These people are also adamant the forest is a tinderbox — just think back to the 2009 Myrtle Beach fire, one said.

Both sides, however, can agree the crux of the issue isn’t really about rats, or wildfires, or getting a good breeze. It’s about the view.

The town had placed the maritime forest into a land trust in 1991, after Hurricane Hugo devastated much of the island. The trust protected the forest from being built up, which pleased conservationists as well as ocean homeowners; both the trees and their beach view would be protected.

But the forest grew over time, with little oversight from the town, said pro-settlement residents.

Some people took matters into their own hands, removing nuisance vegetation themselves. The group of four who filed the 2010 lawsuit against the town and council “went about it the right way,” said Kimberly Brown, a Sullivan’s resident since 2015.

Two of the plaintiffs, Ettaleah and Nathan Bluestein, lost the ocean view they had after first moving to the island, along with the ability to even go through their yard, Brown said.

“He has no path to the beach, he’s got no view, he’s got no breeze,” she said, adding the Bluesteins were just trying to get back what they once had.

Brown said she understands conservation-minded folks like Middaugh, and identifies as conservation-minded herself.

“We all are. Everyone loves trees,” she said, adding none of the pro-settlement folks were “looking to wipe everything.”

But the town had promised residents living along the maritime forest it would always maintain the land, along with their ocean views, Brown said.

“The town kind of went back on their word, and that’s what this whole thing is about,” she said.

Some residents felt frustrated following the council’s vote, as it meant more stalling before a final decision would be reached, despite the fact the lawsuit was settled nearly a year ago.

“We had come to an agreement, we mediated, let’s honor it,” Brown said. “If everybody kept going after something when they couldn’t get what they wanted, it’d be kind of lawless.”

The council adjourned after taking its vote without discussing any other business or elaborating on next steps in seeking guidance from an outside attorney.

Commentary: History of Sullivan’s Island maritime forest explains the present dispute

Just about any good story has an “other” side, and such is the case with Chauncey Clark’s recent commentary claiming that a group of Sullivan’s Island residents is stopping progress on the island by “debating yet again the settled accreted-land lawsuit.”His claims that those of us who want to save the maritime forest are using division and fear as political tools deserve special examination since Mr. Clark is a candidate for mayor in the May 4 election.As is often the case in Charleston, a bi...

Just about any good story has an “other” side, and such is the case with Chauncey Clark’s recent commentary claiming that a group of Sullivan’s Island residents is stopping progress on the island by “debating yet again the settled accreted-land lawsuit.”

His claims that those of us who want to save the maritime forest are using division and fear as political tools deserve special examination since Mr. Clark is a candidate for mayor in the May 4 election.

As is often the case in Charleston, a bit of history is needed to understand the present. The debate Mr. Clark refers to is about the more than 190 acres of beachfront property the town transferred to the Lowcountry Land Trust for preservation.

The public ownership of such a valuable resource on a residential barrier island is unique to Sullivan’s Island because the military owned much of the island from the 1700s well into the 20th century, when it transferred ownership to the state, which then transferred it to the town.

Fast forward to 1991, when the town placed restrictions on the deed that required the property to be kept in its “natural state” except that the Town Council could authorize some cutting for views.

The controversy over the amount of cutting quickly arose, with an Oct. 13, 1994 article in The Post and Courier that describes the town as wrestling with the question. Another ran on Jan. 26, 1995, reporting: “Sullivan’s Island residents proved last week that they could reach a compromise on the issue of cutting vegetation in the town-owned dune property. … The compromise was a give-n-take with victories for both sides.”

Since that compromise, the cutters have continually demanded more, and the town has allowed more. But in 2010, two adjacent landowners sued to allow essentially unlimited cutting. The lower court ruled against them, but then the S.C. Supreme Court ordered additional review.

Two new Town Council members were elected, both of whom were less than transparent as to their views on the land-trust issue. Last year, three council members who are adjacent landowners joined with one a real estate agent to approve, on a 4-3 vote, a settlement of the case that allows for massive cutting. They refused citizen pleas to postpone a final vote until residents could register their view in the May 4 election.

The adjacent landowners have falsely argued that this settlement was necessary to prevent the Supreme Court from ultimately ordering the entire area in the land trust clear-cut and the town held liable for enormous damages for denying the adjacent landowners a view. But all the Supreme Court ordered was that the lower court conduct a trial to determine the intention of the town and the Lowcountry Land Trust in creating the trust.

Anyone with the slightest familiarity with the land trust’s creation knows the intent was for a natural area. There is overwhelming evidence to prove this, including newspaper articles, Town Council minutes, consultant reports and testimony. There is no evidence to support the plaintiffs’ position that the intent was to maintain the vegetation at the 3-foot level it was when the trust was created. The town would have won the lawsuit.

While Mr. Clark claims his opponents won’t compromise and follow democratic principles, these charges are true as to him. His crowning anti-democratic action was to include in the settlement agreement a provision that no future Town Council could alter the cutting regime without approval of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit — who want unlimited cutting.

Mr. Clark’s sweeping allegations simply are not supported by the facts.

Billy Want has been an environmental lawyer for more than 40 years, working for the U.S. Justice Department, in private practice and as a law professor. He is a resident of Sullivan’s Island.

Incumbent Mayor Patrick O’Neil wins Sullivan’s Island re-election; record-breaking turnout

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Incumbent Mayor Patrick O’Neil will see another term in office after a tense contest on this barrier island that centered on the beach community’s maritime forest.“I think it’s pretty clear (voters) want us to take a different direction from the last two years,” O’Neil said. He has been mayor since 2015 and was on Town Council for more than a decade before that.He’s also been on the losing side of several controversial 4 to 3 votes on the island’s T...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Incumbent Mayor Patrick O’Neil will see another term in office after a tense contest on this barrier island that centered on the beach community’s maritime forest.

“I think it’s pretty clear (voters) want us to take a different direction from the last two years,” O’Neil said. He has been mayor since 2015 and was on Town Council for more than a decade before that.

He’s also been on the losing side of several controversial 4 to 3 votes on the island’s Town Council in recent years.

O’Neil received about 62 percent of the vote, besting lone opponent Chauncey Clark, who won 38 percent, according to unofficial returns.

The turnout of more than 1,100 was record-smashing for the island, which usually sees a small proportion of voters participate in its springtime, off-year contests for town government. The official vote will be certified Thursday.

Clark was a member of Town Council for the past eight years, but will now leave public office.

“I’m taking retirement well,” Clark said. “I work really hard, until I walk out tall.”

On Town Council, Scott Millimet, Justin Novak and Gary Visser all won enough votes to secure the three open seats. Incumbent Tim Reese and Kevin Pennington fell short of the threshold.

All four wins spelled success for conservationists who had urged a change in town government after the council approved more cutting in the maritime forest that sprawls between the beach and high-dollar homes on the south half of the island. The vote settled a decade-long lawsuit but also approved more plant removal than Sullivan’s Island had contemplated since the zone was put into a trust in the 1990s.

The land has been at issue for decades, with some arguing it should largely be left alone and others saying it should be thinned to allow for breezes and reduce fire risk. Reese and Clark voted for the settlement and cutting plan; O’Neil voted against it.

Where the candidates fell on that decision became a proxy for some voters on whether the island would retain its neighborly atmosphere.

Candidates who disapproved of the forest plan also largely spoke against installing paid parking on the island, for example, and spoke about improving transparency in town government.

“We have our island back, and it is all for all, not some for all,” resident Pat Votava said. “The numbers (of the vote) actually say what matters to people on this island.”

The town remains legally bound to the forest thinning settlement and elected officials are barred from working to sabotage it. But the newly installed government will manage the tree-cutting that will result and disputes that may arise during permitting with state and federal agencies.

The decisive victory for O’Neil and the three Town Council candidates he supported may also point to the betrayal some felt in the town after the settlement was approved.

The legal negotiations were conducted in private, as is typical of civil mediation, and presented to the public only a few days before the vote to approve the settlement.

It’s clear the issue proved strong motivation for the small community. The total turnout was 1,106, including 346 absentee ballots cast in advance. That’s about half the island’s entire population, or roughly 60 percent of registered voters here.

Many of the early voters — technically absentee voters, cast ballots in person when the county brought a mobile polling place to the island.

By contrast, a contest for three council seats in 2019 had roughly 40 percent turnout. The last time the mayor’s seat was up to voters in 2017, there was a roughly 38 percent turnout, though O’Neil ran that year unopposed.

Resident Larry Kobrovsky, one of the most rabid opponents of the forest thinning plan, said the win should send a signal to conservationists across the Lowcountry.

“You can fight to save your communities from overdevelopment, and fight to save your greenspaces,” Kobrovsky said.

One thing that most voters seem to agree upon is that Sullivan’s Island is a great place to live and a small community where people know one another.

“At the end of the day, we’re all going to live together,” said resident Bob Heller, who declined to say which group of candidates he supported early in the day’s vote.

Reach Chloe Johnson at 843-735-9985. Follow her on Twitter @_ChloeAJ.

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