South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Judge fines bulkhead owner
August 28th, 2004


By Janelle Frost
The Sun News

A property owner in North Myrtle Beach has been ordered by an administrative law judge to remove a bulkhead, which extended 31 feet into the marsh, and pay a $1,000 administrative fine.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management determined that C. Wayne Hill had violated the terms of his permit to build a bulkhead at his property in the Heritage Shores Subdivision in North Myrtle Beach by setting up the bulkhead too far into the channel adjoining his property, according to a complaint.

As a remedy, DHEC required Hill to remove and relocate the bulkhead, to remove the fill dirt placed in the marsh, to replace the spartina grass and to pay a $1,000 administrative fee.

Hill, who said Friday he has owned the property for 25 years, says he plans to ap peal the ruling. He says he is in compliance with his permit.

"I built it to the best of my ability," he said.

Hill's permit authorized him to construct a 110-foot bulkhead 18 inches from the "escarpment," or the break in elevation between high ground and marsh, according to Amy Armstrong, Equal Justice Works Fellow with S.C. Environmental Law Project.

Hill placed 17 truckloads of dirt in marsh vegetation, destroying over 1,000 square feet of vegetation, all to increase his lot size, Armstrong said.

The S.C. Coastal Conservation League intervened to defend DHEC's enforcement action and to ensure that Hill met those requirements.

Hill disputed that his bulkhead is not in compliance with his permit and further argued that if the bulkhead is improperly constructed, the sanctions and remedies DHEC asked for are disproportionate to the alleged violation, the complaint says.