Fight over Chatham Islands incorporation continues, despite Skidaway ‘no’ vote

Local News

The fight to make Skidaway Island its own city is over, but now legislators are shifting their focus to an incorporation movement on the Chatham County Islands, which include Wilmington, Whitemarsh, Oatland and Talahi Islands. 

The reasons behind both movements are similar. Some say they want to keep the look and feel of the islands the same.

People pushing for incorporation on the Chatham Islands say the fight is different, and they’re still determined to make their own vote happen. 

More than two times the people live on the Chatham Islands. There’s two more grocery stores, more restaurants and more land. Organizers behind the incorporation movement say it’s why Skidaway’s vote will not affect theirs. 

Skidaway island is pretty much one class of people. It’s a lot of millionaires out there, said O.C. Welch, who is against incorporation. Wilmington, Whitemarsh, Talahi Islands have all walks of life. We have minimum wage people, millionaires and everything in between. 

We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to preserve our way of life out here and protect our taxes, which is our money. And [protect] our property, which is our homes, said Adam Avant, who supports incorporation. 

A new city would require an election for a new city council. What better way to preserve our identity and look over our property taxes to decide our future than a city council with our neighbors taking care of us in the future and not one or two people that doesn’t live here? said Avant. 

Those — like O.C. Welch — say county commissioners already do a good job. They also worry about fire services and the whole feel of the island. 

If you don’t like how you’re being represented, vote for somebody else. It’s pretty much that simple, said Welch. 

This movement has a long way to go. A vote cannot happen until next year. If it comes to a vote and if a majority of people vote yes, a new city will not take over until 2021. 

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