South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

State takes public remarks on DeBordieu sand solution
January 1st, 2004

By Erin Reed
The Sun News

PAWLEYS ISLAND - DeBordieu Colony residents who want to take sand from a public inlet and move it to their private beach for renourishment argue they'll only take 2 percent of the sandbar.

Critics said that doesn't matter. They said the dredging would disturb the pristine North Inlet, the source of the sand.

About 60 people attended a public hearing Wednesday night at Waccamaw High School held by the S.C. Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to take public comment on whether DeBordieu should be allowed to remove the sand.

Its application asks to take 200,000 cubic yards of sand from a sandbar in public waters in North Inlet. The renourishment is expected to last three to five years, after which the colony would look for another area from which to draw sand.

Although some people object to the use of public sand for a beach that is not available to the public, state law does not forbid it.

"I'm not so sure that's public sand," said Rudy Johnstone, president of the DeBordieu Colony Community Association, which applied for the dredging permit. "I think that's God's sand."

Either way, critics say moving it isn't wise.

Orrin Pilkey, a Duke University professor who has studied beach renourishment since 1985, said it sets a bad example for future S.C. renourishment.

"If you have a natural inlet, why ask for trouble?" Pilkey asked. "I predict it will cause an immediate loss of part of the spit."

Litchfield Beach resident Randy Slovic said DeBordieu residents caused the problem themselves by building their homes too close to the ocean.

"You have no right to ask the public to sacrifice public land to temporarily fix problems that you created for yourself," she said. "I have no sympathy whatever for these property owners."

DeBordieu landowners said they know they've messed up in the past, and they know they need a long-term renourishment plan.

"This is simply not a sand grab," said Ray Chandler, a member of the neighborhood association that's spearheading the renourishment project. "We are hoping, as we move forward, for this to be the first positive step to address what we can do ecologically and environmentally to foster our beaches without being detrimental."

The Belle W. Baruch Institute, the Georgetown OCRM office and attorneys with the S.C. Environmental Law Project spoke against the dredging permit.

And at least one DeBordieu resident had reservations about it. Betsy Brabson said they should postpone the renourishment.

"North Inlet is a treasure we don't want to harm for a temporary fix," she said.