South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Focus Area: Coastal Management

Coastal Management Focus Area


Our work in this area seeks to improve and protect vital coastal ecosystems, specifically estuarine and beachfront systems. We work to prevent alteration and degradation of these areas while at the same time advocating for decisions that account for climate change and sea level rise.

  • Debidue Seawall

    In August 2015, SCELP filed a case in the Administrative Law Court on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League ("CCL") challenging DHEC’s decision to permit the construction of an 1800-foot timber seawall 2 feet seaward of and 3 feet higher than an existing seawall on Debidue Beach in the private, gated Debordieu Colony Community in Georgetown County. The applicant is seeking to rebuild the seawall under a special proviso in the state budget that was passed after a failed attempt to amend the Coastal Zone Management Act.

  • Seawalls & Sea Turtles

    In the summer of 2016, beachwalkers on Isle of Palms and Harbor Island raised concerns about experimental plastic seawalls that were obstructing the beach and interfering with sea turtle nesting. SCELP promptly sent out a notice letter to federal and state agencies alerting them that these walls are a violation of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) on behalf of the Sierra Club and the S.C. Wildlife Federation (“SCWF”). The ESA prohibits interfering with nesting and reproduction of protected species, including endangered sea turtles that return every year to lay eggs on South Carolina’s beaches.

  • Captain Sams Spit

    SCELP is currently involved with four separate challenges to permits associated with proposed development on Captain Sams Spit on Kiawah Island. These challenges include: (1) a 2,783-foot revetment and bulkhead system; (2) a community dock; (3) a 340-foot steel sheet pile wall; and (4) a 2,380-foot steel sheet pile wall.

    DHEC granted Kiawah Development Partners (“KDP”) permits in their entirety for structures (2)-(4), but limited the permit for structure (1) to 270-feet of bulkhead/revetment in front of Beachwalker Park. On behalf of the Coastal Conservation League ("CCL"), SCELP has filed appeals of each of these permit decisions in the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) and they were all subsequently assigned to Administrative Law Judge Ralph K. “Tripp” Anderson.



New Cruise Ship Terminal

The S.C. State Ports Authority is seeking to construct a new, expanded cruise ship terminal at Union Pier in the heart of the historic district of downtown Charleston. On behalf of a coalition of community groups, SCELP filed a challenge to the...

Pawleys Island Groin

In November 2012, we challenged a permit issued to Georgetown County for construction of a groin on the south end of Pawleys Island. Groins are an outdated tool for addressing coastal erosion and are universally disfavored in the scientific...

Seismic Testing

On May 1, 2015, the DHEC staff issued the first ever authorization allowing seismic testing for oil and gas reserves off South Carolina's coast. Seismic testing can have catastrophic effects on wildlife and marine resources, in addition to...

Pappa's Island

This case involves a dock permit that is unusual and especially egregious due to its location. In particular, DHEC issued a permit to construct a dock from Pappa's Island, also known as Pappy's Island, which is a previously undeveloped 104-acre...

Seabrook Inlet Relocation

The Seabrook Island POA proposes to relocate the Inlet by blocking the present Inlet with a wall of sand and excavating a new inlet through Captain Sam’s Spit. In particular, bull dozers would build a 2,250' long x 150'-200' wide x 10' tall wall...

Plum Island Expansion

We challenged a permit that would authorize the construction of 2,150 feet of force main pipe that would carry sewage over critical area salt marsh. The project is part of Charleston Water System's plans to fill in 8 to 10 acres of salt marsh to...

Moss

B & M Properties and Kenneth and Angela Moss applied for after-the-fact permits to fill in critical area salt marsh in connection with a bulkhead in Horry County. Moss represented Wayne Hill in our recent SC Supreme Court win where Hill illegally...

Inlet Point

In the early 1990s, we represented the Georgetown County League of Women Voters in the appeal of a permit for 22 docks for a development at the south tip of Litchfield Beach. We settled the case for reduction to 11 docks and a conservation...

Colony Pointe

Home owners in the Colony Pointe community of Debordieu sought a permit allowing them to dredge the canals within that area. Dredging in Debordieu has been prohibited since 1998 by a court order that was issued in response to a similar permit...

Jasper Station

Jasper Station, LLC, owns approximately 80.0 acres in Jasper County, of which 30.0 acres are “isolated” wetlands. Because the wetlands are deemed “isolated” by the Corps of Engineers, no Clean Water Act Section 404 permit is required. However, a...

Risher Bridge

Jerry Risher applied for a critical area permit to construct a vehicular bridge across intertidal saltwater wetlands to access a 0.3 acre island located off Fripp Island. Under the new Access to Small Islands Regulations which became effective...

Debidue Groins

On behalf of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and the Sierra Club-Winyah Group, SCELP filed a challenge to a permit issued by DHEC’s Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) to Debordieu Colony Community Association (DCCA)...

Spectre

A development group, Spectre, LLC, requested a state permit and coastal zone certification to fill 31.76 acres of wetlands on a 62.93 acre tract of land in Murrells Inlet in Horry County. **The request would have converted this almost 32 acre...

Wayne Hill

A lot owner in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach illegally filled in approximately 1500 sq. ft. of salt marsh to make his lot bigger.

Wedgefield II

In 2003, Wedgefield Plantation Association (“Wedgefield”) applied for a navigable waters permit, coastal zone consistency certification and water quality certification to dredge canals within Wedgefield and place the spoil material in 14.92 acres...

Riverside

SCELP represents the Coastal Conservation League and the Georgetown County League of Women Voters in challenging a project that would allow dredging of vegetated critical area salt marsh.

Bernholz Commercial Docking Facility

Goat Island is a small slice of natural, pristine beauty in Charleston County. The island does not have any serviceable roads and the residents enjoy the quiet, relaxed lifestyle of the island due in large part to difficulty accessing the island...

Fenwick Island

The owner of most of Fenwick Island, Dewey Wise, had obtained a permit from the South Carolina Coastal Council in 1985, allowing the construction of a short bridge across a creek that runs up into the interior of this island in Colleton County....

Kiawah Island

Working with Audubon South Carolina and the S.C. Wildlife Federation, SCELP filed an appeal of a permit that would allow excavation of 150 acres of sand from the eastern end of Kiawah Island that is used by the federally endangered Piping Plover....

Daufuskie Island Marina

In 1985, a permit was issued for construction of an enormous marina on Daufuskie Island, but to date the marina has not been built. The permit has been renewed several times. In 2000, the SC Coastal Conservation League attempted to have input...

North Myrtle Beach - Perrone v. State

Can a family own the beach, creeks, canals, and marshes of Cherry Grove in North Myrtle Beach? In this case, the Perrone family claims to own the "critical areas" of the state's northernmost developed beach/estuarine resort area. SCELP...

Colleton County

Colleton County´s proposed Buzz Aldrin Business and Technology Park requested to fill in almost 30 acres of isolated freshwater wetlands for a commercial development. SCELP asked DHEC to deny the permit because it was entirely inconsistent with...

DeBordieu Dredging & Beach Nourishment Project

The DeBordieu Colony Community Association applied to OCRM for a permit to dredge sand from a sandbar in public waters in pristine North Inlet for beach renourishment. SCELP assisted the SC Coastal Conservation League, the Sierra Club, and the...

Inlet Oaks

This was an appeal of a permit issued to Inlet Oaks Development Corporation for the dredging of a canal, bulkheading, several docks and relocation of a boat ramp in a dead-end, man-made canal off Main Creek in Murrells Inlet. We represented the...

Daufuskie Seawall

In 1988, after much study and upon recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Beachfront committee, South Carolina enacted the SC Beachfront Management Act. The Act prohibits hard erosion control devices on the beach, because these structures cause harm...

Associated Developers

On behalf of the SC Coastal Conservation League, we are appealing OCRM's issuance of a permit to construct a cartpath across public trust tidelands to a small marsh island in Mt. Pleasant, Charleston County. The project does not comply with OCRM...

Carl DiPace

We have been assisting a commercial shellfisher in protecting his shellfish lease area from violations of the SC Coastal Zone Management Act. The violator has formally agreed to remove the unpermitted structure and restore the disturbed area.

Port Royal Plantation

Appeal of permit for groin construction on Hilton Head Island beach, Beaufort County; in 2001, we won this case in the SC Court of Appeals; however, an appeal in the SC Supreme Court had this decision overruled.

Ashley River Docks

Assisting the SC Department of Archives and History ("Archives") in carrying out the Ashley River Historic District Special Area Management Plan by opposing dock permits.

Cherry Grove/Heritage Shores

In 1998, SCELP filed an appeal of permits for wetland fill, bridging, and development of a filled-in marsh area in North Myrtle Beach; our clients are two groups and a large number of individuals loosely allied as neighbors; after winning our...

DeWees Island Development

In 1991, SCELP assisted the SC Coastal Conservation League in protecting water quality and shellfish in the waters around DeWees Island in Charleston County. DeWees Island is a barrier island just north of the Isle of Palms, accessible only by...

Big Landing

Property purchasers at Big Landing were promised that no private docks would interfere with their view of pristine marshes and creeks; the developer later asked the state to amend a permit to allow for private docks; SCELP is now handling the...

SOS Islands - Save Our Small Islands

Where a developer obtains approval for an island residential development based on proposed access by boat, should the developer be allowed to later claim that a bridge over public trust tidelands should be permitted?

The developers of two...

DeBordieu Canal Dredging

We challenged a dredging permit that authorized the dredging of salt marsh and oyster beds in DeBordieu Colony in Georgetown County.  That case resulted in elimination of dredging salt marsh and oyster beds, and a requirement that all dredging...

Bohicket Creek/Andell Harbor Marina

The owner of a large tract of land at the entrances to Seabrook and Kiawah Islands wanted to enhance a development through a massive earth moving operation. SCELP represented the SC Coastal Conservation League (CCL) in challenging the...

League of Women Voters v. Litchfield-by-the-Sea

SCELP represented the League of Women Voters in challenging a coastal zone consistency certification. Reversing a lower court rejection, the South Carolina Supreme Court denounced the limitation on citizens’ rights to notice, hearing and judicial...