Oppose bill #139 to protect the South Carolina coast from improper development

The S.C. state senate will like decide on S.139 this week. A decision has been delayed since January 20, 2016. This bill directly impacts the ability to go forward with the development of Captain Sams Spit, Kiawah Island. Future improper development on the South Carolina coast is a likely outcome as well if this bill passes, and if the Captain Sams project goes through. Watch the movie 50 Houses on Kiawah Sand to see the myriad of reasons to oppose development of the Kiawah Spit. Development would cause detrimental effects to wildlife on this site where “one of a handful of dolphin pods on the planet” are known to “strand feed”–unique behavior only found on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. You can sign the Moveon.org petition put forth by Marilyn Blizard to show your opposition to S.139.

Katie Zimmerman of the Coastal Conservation League emailed us a few days ago with the following update on this bill:

The SC senate briefly debated S.139 last week, and carried over the bill with competing amendments, one from Sen. Campbell and one from Sen. Cleary.

Sen. Campbell’s amendment not only delays setting a permanent baseline until at least 2017, but also includes a loophole that allows property owners to move the line, so it’s not so permanent after all:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, where a department-approved beach nourishment project has been completed, the local government or the landowners, with notice to the local government, may petition an administrative law judge to move the baseline as far seaward as the landward edge of the erosion control structure or device or, if there is no existing erosion control structure or device, then as far seaward as the post project baseline as determine by the department in accordance with Section 48-39-280(A)!1) by showing that the beach has been stabilized by department-approved beach nourishment. If the petitioner is asking that the baseline be moved seaward pursuant to this section, he must show an ongoing commitment to renourishment which will stabilize and maintain the dry sand beach at all stages of the tide for the foreseeable future. If the administrative law judge grants the petition to move the baseline seaward pursuant to this section, no new construction may occur in the area between the former baseline and the new baseline for three years after the initial beach nourishment project has been completed as determined by the department. If the beach nourishment fails to stabilize the beach after a reasonable period of time, the department must move the baseline landward to the primary oceanfront sand dune as determined pursuant to items (1), (2), and (3) for that section of the beach. Any appeal of an administrative law judge’s decision under this section may be made pursuant to Title 23 of Chapter 1.

Sen. Cleary’s amendment, meanwhile, sets the permanent baseline using existing data, so there will be no delay, and he removes the above-copied item so that property owners can contest the line easily.

One slight nuance that is important to identify is that both amendments include the ability for a property owner to petition OCRM, the DHEC board, and subsequently the Administrative Law Court if they want to contest the line. We are comfortable with this, as was the Blue Ribbon Committee, because this process is one way for the permanent baseline to not count as a “taking.”

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