FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2020
Leslie Lenhardt, Esquire
South Carolina Environmental Law Project
[email protected] or (843) 527-0078
Coastal Conservation League
[email protected] or (843) 530-0211
Advocates Propose to Intervene in Effort to
Revise Jurisdictional Lines on Captain Sams Spit
CHARLESTON, SC – The Coastal Conservation League is seeking to block an attempt by KDP, II, LLC (formerly Kiawah Development Partners II, Inc.) to move the beachfront jurisdictional baseline seaward of the location proposed by South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in 2017. The effort would eliminate regulatory hurdles that limit the types and location of construction that can occur on Captain Sams Spit, an environmentally fragile inlet at the southern end of Kiawah Island.
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) filed the motion to intervene on behalf of the Conservation League in the South Carolina Administrative Law Court aimed at upholding DHEC’s 2017 jurisdictional line determination and preventing it from moving seaward. DHEC uses the jurisdictional lines to determine whether and what type of permit might be needed for construction activities.
A seaward jurisdictional line movement at Captain Sams Spit would give the developer more space to construct an access road and utilities at the imperiled narrow neck of the Spit, potentially dispensing with the need for any additional permits. SCELP has long-represented the Conservation League in challenging various permits associated with KDP’s proposal to build a 50-house residential development known as Cape Charles Phase I on the Spit.
Members of the Conservation League use and enjoy recreating on and around the Spit and easing restrictions on where the developer can build a road and infrastructure would harm them, according to the petition filed today.
“KDP is, yet again, seeking a work-around to implement its unwise development plans. Their hope is this challenge to DHEC’s beachfront jurisdictional lines will facilitate access to its proposed residential development and the Conservation League cannot stand by and fail to protect the interests of its members,” said SCELP Staff Attorney Leslie Lenhardt.
“Captain Sams Spit is a valuable public resource that would be irreparably harmed by the proposed development,” said Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Laura Cantral. “In addition to the public’s recreational use, numerous species such as endangered piping plovers, diamondback terrapins, and bottlenose dolphins rely on the Spit for foraging, resting and breeding. Damaging the Spit’s natural beauty and wildlife to build a housing development on a dynamic and constantly shifting piece of land is beyond senseless.”
To date, SCELP and the Conservation League have secured multiple favorable rulings from the South Carolina Supreme Court over various challenges to permits associated with proposed development on the Spit. In the most recent ruling from April 2018, the state’s highest court concluded that the public benefits to preserving the spit outweighed any private benefits to developing it.
Yet a ruling in late 2018 from the Administrative Law Court again opened the door for the development, and the groups are back before the Supreme Court yet again challenging the most recent round of permits.
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South Carolina Environmental Law Project is a nonprofit public interest law firm. Its mission is to protect the natural environment of South Carolina by providing legal services and advice to environmental organizations and concerned citizens and by improving the state’s system of environmental regulation.
The Coastal Conservation League is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the coastal resources of South Carolina. Its mission is to protect the state’s natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water, and quality of life. Since 1989, the Conservation League has carried out this mission by working with citizens, local government and the state legislature. Get involved at www.coastalconservationleague.org