Gullah/Geechee Group Files Motion Against Bay Point Destruction
Posted: February 24, 2020
For immediate release
The Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association files motion before the Beaufort County Zoning Board of Appeals to protect property rights of its members.
BEAUFORT, SC — The Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association seeks to intervene in the appeal related to a developer’s plans to build a so-called “eco-resort” on Bay Point Island, a pristine and untouched barrier island at the mouth of Port Royal Sound.
The Motion to Intervene was filed Wednesday by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) on behalf of the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association.
In January, the developer, Bay Point, LLC, appealed to the Beaufort County Zoning Board of Appeals to reverse earlier decisions by County staff, which determined on two separate occasions that the proposed development did not meet the permissible Ecotourism use under the island’s current zoning. The Board will consider the Bay Point appeal at its February 27, 2020 meeting.
Bay Point Island is an historic Gullah/Geechee fishing area and the Association’s members rely on it for sustenance. In its motion, the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association asserts that its members’ livelihood and quality of life with regard to the use and enjoyment of the natural resources of Bay Point Island will be directly and adversely impacted by the outcome of the appeal and that they should be permitted to participate in order to protect those rights. The motion also defended the County staff’s decision that the proposed Bay Point development is contrary to the County’s zoning standards.
According to Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and officer of the Association: “The citizens of the Gullah/Geechee Nation live in balance with the environment and have done so in this area since the 1500s. The proposed development/destructionment at Bay Point near the Land's End area of St. Helena Island is incompatible with the Gullah/Geechee way of life and the ecological balance to that highly erosional area.”
Building a resort on a barrier island vulnerable to sea level rise and increasing storm frequency would be irresponsible and short sighted. Further, the National Audubon Society has designated Bay Point as an Important Bird Area and can hold as many as 8,000 shorebirds, mainly due to the lack of human disturbance. In addition, 107 loggerhead sea turtle nests were recorded on Bay Point in 2019.
The South Carolina Environmental Law Project protects the natural environment of South Carolina by providing legal services and advice to environmental organizations and concerned citizens and by improving the state’s system of environmental regulation.