South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

SCELP in the Press

Judge upholds state permit for DeBordieu groins
January 21st, 2021

By Charles Swenson, Coastal Observer

An environmental group is considering its next step after a state Administrative Law Court judge upheld a permit to build three rock and concrete groins as part of a beach renourishment project at DeBordieu.

The Coastal Conservation League and the Belle W. Baruch Foundation challenged the 2018 permit from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to allow the groins as part of a plan to place up to 650,000 cubic yards of offshore sand on 1.5 miles of beach, starting at the boundary of DeBordieu and Hobcaw Barony.

The Baruch Foundation agreed to settle the case last April when the DeBordieu Colony Community Association agreed to reduce the length and location of the southernmost groin and increase the threshold for mitigation if the groins accelerate erosion at Hobcaw. DeBordieu also agreed to increase a letter of credit to pay for mitigation from $500,000 to $1 million.

The Coastal Conservation League continued to argue against the groins, saying the permit didn’t meet the requirements of state law that restricts construction of hard structures on the beach.

Judge Ralph K. Anderson III, chief judge of the court, said in a ruling last week that the permit complies with the law because that portion of the DeBordieu beach has a high erosion rate that threatens existing structures and won’t have an impact on adjacent beach. If there is an impact, he said, the money will be available for mitigation.

“The net result of the project will be an overall reduction in the historic erosion rate. Indeed, Hobcaw will receive a benefit from the project,” Anderson said in his ruling.

Leslie Lenhardt, staff attorney for the S.C. Environmental Law Project, said this week she was still evaluating the ruling and discussing it with the conservation league. It can be appealed to the state Court of Appeals.

“State policy is to preserve and protect the state’s beaches while acknowledging private property rights,” Blanche Brown, general manager of the DeBordieu association, said in a statement. “Our plan does exactly that. It will also ensure Georgetown County a sustained and reliable tax base while improving the wildlife ecosystem.”

DeBordieu also received a state permit in 2011 to build groins as part of a renourishment project. Those were challenged in court and the community moved forward without them, pumping 795,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach in 2015. It filed the new permit request after a change to the association bylaws created a “beach preservation fund” and knowing there would be renewed challenges to the groins.

As a gated community, DeBordieu doesn’t qualify for public funds for beach renourishment. The groins are intended to trap the sand, reducing the need as well as the cost of future renourishment.

“Continuing to replace the sand without employing tested, environmentally-friendly technologies such as groins would have severe economic consequences, not only for property owners, but the county as well,” Brown said.

The renourishment project will place sand in front of a seawall that was covered by the earlier renourishment, but which is still overwashed by storms.

“Currently, the bulkhead remains functionally intact, but its longevity will be reduced unless action is taken to better protect it,” Anderson said in his ruling. Although Rob Young, a coastal geologist, disputed that structures were threatened, the judge said, “I find that a house does not have to be falling into the ocean to be threatened. Indeed, if a house is falling into the sea, it is no longer being threatened by erosion, it is actively being destroyed by erosion.”

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Expansion of towering mega dump near acclaimed nature preserve sparks dispute
Posted: Apr 17, 2015
USC School of Law announces 2015 Compleat Lawyer Award recipients
Posted: Apr 4, 2015
The new battle for Capt. Sam’s Spit; beach setback rule contested
Posted: Mar 25, 2015
S.C. lawmakers struggle to stop seaward push
Posted: Mar 19, 2015
Opinion: Don’t limit a citizen’s ability to challenge government
Posted: Mar 17, 2015
Environment: Judge rules for church in wetlands permit appeal
Posted: Feb 27, 2015
Kiawah developers seek help from Legislature to build on barrier island
Posted: Jan 29, 2015
Judge denies landowners’ motion to stop withdrawals in Edisto River ‘water war’
Posted: Jan 15, 2015
Charleston Court will hear case on S.C. water laws, draws interest of Wagener residents
Posted: Jan 14, 2015
Court rules against disputed Kiawah beach project
Posted: Dec 11, 2014
Kiawah developer denied permits for Capt. Sams Spit sea walls
Posted: Dec 10, 2014
SC attorney general fights federal environmental rules
Posted: Oct 16, 2014
Formal appeal is filed in Charleston cruise ship terminal dispute
Posted: Oct 15, 2014
Lab Test Indicates Jellyfish Plant Discharge is Harmful, Company Disagrees
Posted: Sep 7, 2014
South Carolina Ports again seek cruise terminal permit
Posted: Aug 16, 2014
Court rules against Barnwell nuclear waste dump
Posted: Jul 31, 2014
SC Senate tacks on seawall exemption to resolution
Posted: May 20, 2014
SCELP Board Member John Mark Dean's Letter to the Editor: Seawalls steal from the many to protect the few
Posted: May 14, 2014
SC beach dispute heats up
Posted: May 13, 2014
SC seawall ban crumbling as landowners seek help
Posted: May 8, 2014
Debordieu scores win
Posted: May 8, 2014
SC seawalls, beach projects score victory
Posted: May 8, 2014
SC Supreme Court hears arguments in York County landfill suit
Posted: May 6, 2014
Senators side with gated Debordieu community in debate over public beach
Posted: Apr 29, 2014
SC has not yet reapplied for federal cruise permit
Posted: Apr 28, 2014
Group appeals judge's ruling over Charleston cruise terminal
Posted: Apr 22, 2014
DHEC holds community meeting to discuss jellyballs
Posted: Apr 22, 2014
Proposed industrial park in Bucksport pits environmentalists against developers, neighbor against neighbor
Posted: Apr 14, 2014
Resort’s troubles threaten to erode SC beach law
Posted: Mar 28, 2014
Waccamaw River: Industrial park raises debate over jobs and environment By Jason Lesley
Posted: Mar 13, 2014
SCELP won a critical VICTORY in the SC Supreme Court
Posted: Mar 12, 2014
Business leaders, environmentalists and residents debate marine industrial park at hearing
Posted: Mar 11, 2014
Environmentalists want Bucksport industrial park put on hold, proponents say it’s not necessary
Posted: Mar 10, 2014
Environmentalists raise concerns, proponents tout benefits of Bucksport Marina Industrial Park
Posted: Feb 18, 2014
Saving the Angel Oak
Posted: Feb 17, 2014
Tom Rice legislation could give gated Inlet Harbour community access to federal funds
Posted: Feb 17, 2014
Barnwell nuclear waste dump: Are open pits a threat?
Posted: Feb 6, 2014
SCELP argues before Court of Appeals for more containment at Barnwell nuclear site
Posted: Feb 5, 2014
Leaks at Barnwell Nuclear Dump Focus of Court Hearing
Posted: Feb 3, 2014
Court to hear Barnwell waste disposal appeal
Posted: Jan 23, 2014
Pawleys Island: State tries to avoid county default on groin permit
Posted: Jan 13, 2014
Funds drying up to check for toxic leaks near Lake Marion
Posted: Jan 8, 2014
4 years on, Charleston cruise debate lingers
Posted: Jan 6, 2014
DHEC Holds Public Hearing
Posted: Nov 19, 2013
Posted: Nov 19, 2013
Pawleys Island: County conspicuous in absence from court in groin appeal
Posted: Nov 15, 2013
Cruise terminal opponents want SC permit tossed
Posted: Nov 14, 2013
Environmentalists take a walk on the 'Wild Side' for law project fundraiser
Posted: Nov 10, 2013
Capt. Sam's Spit development could imperil little-regarded marsh turtle on Kiawah Island Bo Petersen
Posted: Oct 7, 2013
A Grass-Roots Rally To Protect South Carolina's Massive 'Angel Oak'
Posted: Oct 4, 2013
WMBF News Interviews Amy Armstrong
Posted: Sep 24, 2013
Pawleys Island: Town takes over county effort to get groin permit
Posted: Jun 4, 2013
S.C. Supreme Court to rehear Capt. Sam’s Spit case
Posted: May 3, 2013
Developers say Capt. Sam’s Spit homes won’t disrupt park or habitat; others disagree
Posted: Apr 28, 2013
Public calls for coal ash to be hauled away from Conway's Grainger plant
Posted: Apr 23, 2013
Pawleys Island: Town may defend county’s permit for south end groin
Posted: Apr 4, 2013
Kiawah River erosion clips Beachwalker Park parking lot; environmentalists ask for new Capt. Sam’s Spit hearing
Posted: Mar 19, 2013
Proposed Wild Dunes beach erosion fix sparks concerns
Posted: Mar 5, 2013
A line in a lot of sand; Seabrook owner disputes re-cutting Capt. Sam’s Inlet
Posted: Feb 4, 2013
Council approves plans for Pawley's Island shopping center
Posted: Jan 9, 2013
Groups file appeal to halt permit for Charleston cruise terminal
Posted: Jan 4, 2013
Pawleys Plaza: Planners expect new proposal without big-box store
Posted: Dec 14, 2012
As state’s wetlands dwindle, South Carolina seeks new answer
Posted: Nov 26, 2012
SCELP's Amy Armstrong was recently featured on WIS TV.
Posted: Oct 15, 2012
County Planning staff recommends rezoning for Pawleys Plaza
Posted: Sep 21, 2012
Supreme Court Wetlands Ruling
Posted: Jun 1, 2012
Marlboro in Fierce Fight Against Landfill
Posted: Apr 1, 2012
Captain Sam's Ruling a Win!
Posted: Dec 2, 2011
Developer in Battle to Build Near Angel Oak
Posted: Nov 23, 2011
High Court Rules on Pawleys Island Land Fight
Posted: Jul 14, 2011
Fight on to Save Lily Pond Arcadia Lakes; residents oppose dredging
Posted: Mar 29, 2010
Conservationists applaud long-awaited decision
Posted: Feb 2, 2010
Appeal under way to allow Kiawah revetment
Posted: Dec 8, 2009
Developer's Claim Gets Hard Look
Posted: Dec 8, 2009
Judge Denies Landfill Permit
Posted: Nov 24, 2009
Critics Urge Changes in U.S. 601 Plan through Congaree National Park
Posted: Sep 9, 2009
Bill Marscher Tribute
Posted: Jan 31, 2008
Barnwell leaks worse than feared
Posted: Aug 19, 2007
Crusade inspired by refinery case
Posted: Jul 30, 2007
Underdog lawyer puts up good fight
Posted: Jul 29, 2007
Sand battle won't blow over
Posted: Jul 13, 2007
Citizens step up to the plate and hit one home in coastal protection case
Posted: Mar 9, 2007
Ex-senator liable in bridge lawsuit
Posted: Mar 6, 2007
Posted: Mar 5, 2007
Robert Ariail's Editorial Cartoon on Chem-Nuclear
Posted: Mar 4, 2007
NMB Opens Nature Park on Marsh
Posted: Jan 25, 2007
Congaree bridge permits delayed
Posted: Aug 11, 2006
Land-use plan update critical, say residents
Posted: Jul 24, 2006
Wetlands bill represents compromise
Posted: Mar 7, 2006
A chance to take part
Posted: May 24, 2005
With Lowe’s gone for the time being, what have we really accomplished?
Posted: May 22, 2005
Neighbors claim abuse of power
Posted: Oct 1, 2004
Judge fines bulkhead owner
Posted: Aug 28, 2004
Seminar discusses erosion
Posted: Apr 8, 2004
Sea wall can stay for now
Posted: Mar 10, 2004
Court urged to jettison sea-wall ban
Posted: Mar 7, 2004
State takes public remarks on DeBordieu sand solution
Posted: Jan 1, 2004
No Public Sand For DeBordieu
Posted: Nov 16, 2003
A Public Forum on Growth
Posted: Oct 1, 2002
Fire guts 100-year-old house
Posted: Aug 1, 2002
Students mark law's anniversary
Posted: Aug 1, 2002
No groins on beach, court says
Posted: Jun 18, 2001
Nature's Guardian
Posted: Dec 1, 2000
Waste dump closed
Posted: Sep 23, 2000