Letter to the Editor

 

On Tuesday, January 16th, three Council Members, voted in favor of an ordinance that will no longer allow residents within the Town to park on their front lawns. I am one of the Council members who voted in favor.

There are passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. The issue has polarized the entire community.

During my address to Council, I mentioned there is a joke out there concerning parking on the lawn. In retrospect, it was a poor choice on my part. I am truly sorry and humbly apologize that my citing a joke of Jeff Foxworthy has caused so many pain. My point is that I do not find the situation funny. However, Foxworthy uses an example of parking on the lawn as humorous. His audience thinks it is funny. But, I do not want any part of this Town or its residents to be the brunt of a joke.

I do not take my duties lightly. Most know I never meant it in the manner it was taken. I am thankful to the many folks who have called or written that they understood the point I was trying to make.

To the others that I have offended, who do not know me or know my heart for our Town, I meant no offense and sincerely apologize. Although we may be at odds on this particular issue, we share the same passion for our Town. I offer you a glimpse of why I voted in favor of the ordinance:

I ask that you ride around our neighborhoods. They are aging and some are showing their age.  While campaigning door to door, I spoke to many residents who voiced their concerns over declining properties and property values. Some would point to a neighbor’s property as an example of the issue. They mentioned speaking to the neighbor, even offering to help physically or monetarily, but no change occurred. Rather than push the issue themselves, pitting neighbor against neighbor, they asked what I would do about it. I told them I would help correct it.

Over the past two years, this Council has identified various ordinances that have been on the books for years, yet due to vague language, our attorney felt they were unenforceable. We clarified wording of various ordinances so they could be enforced. Next, we were more aggressive with foreclosures; identifying the owners and addressing maintenance issues of the properties. We clarified “unsightly and unsanitary conditions” as well as defining “dilapidated”.

Most municipalities across the country agree that parking on your lawn greatly diminishes the curb appeal of neighborhoods. Most have already addressed this. All of these measures are stepping stones needed to curb the decline of some of our neighborhoods. Aging homes require maintenance and upkeep. If you don’t address a leak in your roof, it causes more damage to the overall house. If you don’t address issues brought on by the aging of our neighborhoods, all of us, every resident of Irmo, will ultimately suffer.

This ordinance was met with much vocal opposition. I did listen and understand the issues. I listened to residents concerned about the cost some may bear in addressing this on their property. The ordinance has various options to remedy the situation. Some options should cost less than $100 for materials, plus the ordinance allows a grace period with over 6 months to perform the work before an abatement notice would be issued, giving another 10 days to correct. We also recognize some properties may not be able to comply at all. There are measures to address those properties as they come up.

As Council Members, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of this town. To sit idly by and do nothing would be a dereliction of duty. I gave my word to the residents of Irmo who supported me. Although this was the most difficult vote I made to date, causing some to hate me, call for my resignation, and even one calling me a PIG, I am resolute in my actions. I work to keep the promises I made and do it to the best of my ability. Should I seek re-election and am not successful, so be it. I surrendered my life to our Lord years ago. I have humbling experiences almost daily that cause me to go back to his throne. I pray HIS will be done. Every time I fall, I find myself right back on my knees.

Clearly, I am not a perfect man. My choice to bring up that joke was a mistake. To those I have offended, I truly apologize.

Sincerely,

Mark Pouliot

Councilman

Town of Irmo, SC.