South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

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.

Wayne C. Hill was issued a critical area permit by OCRM for the construction of a bulkhead and a dock on his property at Heritage Shores Subdivision, North Myrtle Beach, in Horry County. The permit was issued with conditions and required that the bulkhead be constructed no further than 1.5 feet from the escarpment. Upon investigation, OCRM concluded that at certain points Mr. Hill's bulkhead was over 30 feet from the escarpment and, therefore, was not constructed in accordance with the permit. OCRM issued an Administrative Enforcement Order for violations of the permit and the SC Coastal Zone Management Act. Mr. Hill requested a hearing before the Administrative Law Court.

On behalf of the Coastal Conservation League, our Motion to Intervene and fight to restore the destroyed salt marsh was granted. Administrative Law Judge John D. Geathers held a hearing on April 20, 2004 and ruled in our favor that Mr. Hill did, in fact, fill in salt marsh in violation of the coastal protection laws. Judge Geathers ordered Mr. Hill to remove the offending bulkhead and restore the destroyed marsh vegetation. Mr. Hill then appealed Judge Geathers' order to the Coastal Zone Management Appellate Panel (CZMAP).

The CZMAP affirmed the order. Mr. Hill then appealed to the Horry County Circuit Court and unfortunately the Circuit Court reversed the decision. SCELP appealed this reversal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals and DHEC/OCRM joined.

In the end, we won this case in the state Supreme Court.

Wayne Hill

This picture depicts the bulkhead being constructed in the salt marsh.