This case is an appeal of a permit issued to Charles E. Cox/Creekside Cottages to fill wetlands that drain into Parsonage Creek in Murrells Inlet. SCELP is representing the SC Coastal Conservation League, the League of Women Voters of Georgetown County, and Murrells Inlet residents, Chip Smith and Hobie Kraner, in this appeal.
DHEC held a public hearing in which our clients testified that the wetlands represented by the developer were less than the actual wetlands on site. This permit would, in fact, allow the developer to fill more wetlands than allowed under the permit and block a stream that carries water from adjacent property into the wetlands. By accepting an inaccurate representation of the wetlands, DHEC failed to consider all the cumulative impacts of the project on water quality and failed to consider the effects on water circulation and movement.
We successfully argued to Administrative Law Judge Ralph K. Anderson, III, that DHEC must consider impacts to all wetlands, and could not rely on an Army Corps of Engineers wetland determination that misrepresented onsite wetlands. After the Judge’s ruling, the developer went back to the drawing board using a delineation prepared by our expert showing all onsite wetlands.
In reviewing this second permit request, SCELP prepared an analysis of feasible alternatives that would avoid wetland impacts, and requested another public hearing, which was held on March 10, 2005. At this public hearing the developer presented a revised plan that eliminated all wetland impacts on private lots, limiting the wetland impacts to a single road crossing. We believe that this new proposal was prompted by our strong feasible alternatives analysis and we will continue working towards ensuring that this project will not degrade water quality.