South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Resort plans concern Gullah communities
February 28th, 2020

By Kristen Rary, WTOC

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - Activists in Beaufort County are still fighting the development of a proposed eco-resort. They say it infringes on Gullah Geechee waterways.

The eco-resort trying to come to Bay Point Island would have villas and restaurants and promote ecotourism in Beaufort County. But the location the developer has chosen is land that the Gullah Geechee people say they have historically used for fishing. Now, the county is facing a decision on what it will allow.

“It’s an ecologically and culturally significant resource," said South Carolina Environmental Law Project Staff Attorney Jessie White.

An East-Asian based resort developer wants to come to Beaufort County. It would be their first North American based resort. But the proposed site of the resort is sensitive.

“It’s a historic Gullah Geechee fishing area, and it’s also a nationally designated Audobon bird area and I believe it as 107 loggerhead turtles that nested there last year.”

Bay Island, the proposed site of the hotel, is a place the Gullah Geechee people say they have been using for centuries.

“They use Bay Point for fishing, the waters around Bay Point for fishing for sustenance and recreational fishing, commercial fishing, and have historically since the 1600′s.”

To fight the resort development, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project has stepped in on behalf of the Gullah Geechee fishing association.

County council hasn’t spoken on the issue yet, but some are already worried about the choice of land.

“That particular area is so sensitive that is not a good location," said Brian Flewelling.

They believe another island would be a good option for the luxury resort.

“But other nearby areas that would have access to those kind of places to highlight them as part of a tour probably would be a good idea.”

The zoning meeting where the development was scheduled for discussion was canceled Thursday, but the plan to defend the Gullah Geechee fishing association is still in place. Representation for the resort did not return our calls for comment.

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