Tuesday, January 15, 2019 News · Press Releases

Groups Appeal Administrative Law Judge’s Ruling Upholding Development Permits for Captain Sams Spit

by Diane Knich

Press Release


January 15, 2019


Amy E. Armstrong, Esquire
SC Environmental Law Project
[email protected] or (843) 527-0078

Caitie Forde-Smith
Coastal Conservation League
[email protected] or (252) 714-4790

Groups Appeal Administrative Law Judge’s Ruling Upholding Development Permits for Captain Sams Spit

CHARLESTON, SC—Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson, III, issued a ruling on December 14, 2018, affirming the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s decision to issue a permit authorizing the construction of a road, steel sheetpile wall and other infrastructure to facilitate the construction of 50 houses on Captain Sams Spit. Today, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed a notice of appeal in the South Carolina Court of Appeals on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League.

“From the moment we received the ruling affirming the DHEC permits authorizing this ill-conceived development proposal, we knew we had no choice but to appeal it,” SCELP Executive Director Amy Armstrong said.  “We believe that this decision ignores well-documented facts about the dynamic nature of the spit, fails to apply the proper legal standards, and should be reversed.”

“Captain Sams is one of the last stretches of undeveloped coastline in South Carolina, and it is a special place where people and wildlife visit and seek refuge. From its shore, diamondback terrapins nest, dolphins strand feed, and endangered birds overwinter,” Coastal Conservation League Executive Director Laura Cantral said. “The dynamic barrier island spit has also observed drastic change in its lifetime and is not immune to the worsening impacts of climate change—severe storms, flooding, and sea level rise. For all these reasons and more, we will again urge a higher court to reject this decision and protect Captain Sams from development, once and for all.”

On September 24, 2018, Judge Anderson granted the groups’ request to stay the effect of his ruling, meaning construction on the fragile spit cannot proceed while the appeal is pending.

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The South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) is a nonprofit public interest law firm, dedicated to the protection of the South Carolina’s environment. 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. Learn more and get involved at coastalconservationleague.org.

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