South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Daufuskie Property Owners, Gullah/Geechee Group Oppose Proposed Sand Mine
Posted: December 15, 2020

For Immediate Release

Motion to intervene filed to protect historic properties and culture of Daufuskie Island from harmful mining project.

BEAUFORT, S.C. – A group of Daufuskie Island property owners and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition filed a motion to intervene in a developer’s latest efforts to construct a sand mine near historically and culturally important Gullah/Geechee buildings and landmarks.

On November 6, 2020, the developers—Dolphin Daufuskie Group, LLC and Dolphin Shared MGMT Services, LLC—appealed the Beaufort County Zoning Board of Appeals’ (BZOA) denial of a special permit to construct the 3.9-acre sand mine. During the September meeting, Board members voted 5-1 against the project on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the County’s comprehensive plan; it is incompatible with the character of the land within its vicinity; and it is not designed to minimize adverse impacts on the environment, traffic, congestion, infrastructure or governmental services.

In the motion to intervene filed on Tuesday in Beaufort County Circuit Court, the property owners and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition concurred with the BZOA’s reasons to reject the sand mine. Further, the proposed intervenors expressed concerns over the project’s harmful environmental impacts as well as impacts on quality of life and livelihoods. Significantly, Daufuskie Island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, along with the property owners’ homes, the proposed site of the mine would also adjoin Oyster Union Society Hall and Mary Field Cemetery, the largest Gullah/Geechee cemetery on the island.

Queen Quet, the Chieftess and head of state for the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, submitted a petition with more than 3,000 signatories in opposition to the project at the BZOA’s September meeting.

“All a disya da sacred sand! According to the map that was presented to Beaufort County for this proposed sand mine, the Gullah/Geechee historic area is relegated to a small area and those requesting to dig are stating that they were told that no cultural resources would be disturbed or harmed,” said Queen Quet. “However, as I stated at the BZOA meeting, all of Daufuskie Island is Gullah/Geechee. Therefore, the entire place is culturally and historically significant. Digging into the sands of Daufuskie means you are digging into the heart of the Gullah/Geechee. De land da we famlee!”

The motion to intervene was filed on behalf of the property owners including natives of Daufuskie and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP), a nonprofit public interest law firm.

“We are proud to represent the numerous property owners and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition in protecting the rights of the residents of Daufuskie,” said SCELP Staff Attorney Leslie Lenhardt. “The island is a priceless part of our history and culture and this project would have a significantly negative impact on not only the residents, but also on the historic properties on the island.”

Media contacts:
Leslie Lenhardt, Esquire
South Carolina Environmental Law Project
[email protected], (843) 527-0078

Queen Quet
Gullah/Geechee Nation
[email protected]

Download available Daufuskie Motion to Intervene

Mary Field Cemetery. Photo credit: John Van Horn

This property, owned by proposed intervenor Georgia Renck, is believed to be the oldest inhabitable cottage on the island. Photo credit: John Van Horn