Don’t let one developer change our beachfront management program in South Carolina

It is a shame that one Senator, on the behalf of one developer of a mile of beachfront, is jeopardizing all of South Carolina’s beachfront management program. Please read this recent op-ed by Elizabeth M. Hagood in the Post & Courier: Protect S.C. coast: No retreat from ‘line in the sand’. Bill S.139 will be voted on soon. You can voice your opposition to the developer’s amendment here:

The State Supreme Court has already ruled against the development of the Kiawah Spit. According to the Coastal Conservation League, “This latest effort by the Kiawah developers is a flagrant attempt to circumvent the decision of the State Supreme Court.” The changes to bill S. 139 would call for a delay in setting the beachfront baseline, in order to allow for more sand to accrete. “In 2013 the Blue Ribbon Committee [BRC] on Shoreline Management — comprised of scientists, developers, and elected officials all appointed by the DHEC board — recognized that after five years of research and discussion, allowing houses and associated infrastructure to be built when the line moves seaward is not only detrimental to the environment, but it ultimately results in less beach for all of us.” The reality is that this is a highly dynamic sand spit has changed dramatically in the past centuries. When the beach erodes, there will be houses instead of beach at the coastline. Here is a short animation showing how these sands have come and gone, with images from Miles O. Hayes, from the video 50 Houses on Kiawah Sand:

Here is an excerpt from the Post & Courier op-ed:

Current state policy dictates that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) designate a baseline along the coast every eight to ten years. The most recent revision was completed in 2010. This process is performed by DHEC using both historic shoreline data and present-day profiles. The “line in the sand” dictates the point beyond which development cannot occur, at least for that particular cycle.

Over the years, as coastal erosion has increased and the call for beach renourishment has sharpened, it has become clear that neither “renourished” beaches nor shifting shorelines make stable, smart locations for new houses.

Elizabeth Hagood continues:

A key recommendation, overwhelmingly supported by the BRC and later approved by DHEC’s board, was to establish a permanent baseline, rather than moving it every decade.

The purpose behind this action is simple: to prevent the development of highly erosional beach areas and to have a fair, uniform rule that applied equally to all beachfront property. This commonsense recommendation has been proposed by state Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, who served on the BRC.

Unfortunately, a special interest amendment put forth by Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Goose Creek, undermines the very purpose of that recommendation, erodes the consistency and clarity of purpose of freezing the baseline, and exposes our shoreline to greater risk and cost to taxpayers in the long term.

Sen. Campbell asserts that his amendment is in the interest of science and equity.

However, the Shoreline Advisory Committee and the BRC have already conducted the necessary scientific and legal due diligence for this bill — it was part of their 5-year analysis and deliberation. Sen. Campbell proposes the permanent baseline be delayed, and that the state still provide the opportunity for developers to petition the Administrative Law Court if they don’t approve of where the permanent baseline ultimately sets.

His amendment is for the sole purpose of allowing one developer the ill-advised opportunity to build fifty homes on a highly erosional spit of sand. Making special interest exceptions is contrary to the intent of the final recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Committee. As our final report asserted, “the majority of committee members agree that there is a need for a consistent and more conservative statewide policy that effectively ‘holds the line’ on development along the oceanfront.”

Please read the full article here: Protect S.C. coast: No retreat from ‘line in the sand’.

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