The South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Closed SCELP Cases

Plum Island Expansion

We challenged a permit that would authorize the construction of 2,150 feet of force main pipe that would carry sewage over critical area salt marsh. The project is part of Charleston Water System's plans to fill in 8 to 10 acres of salt marsh to expand the sewage treatment facility on Plum Island in Charleston County.

Case Update:

The Adminstrative Law Court upheld the permit authorizing construction of the pipeline. We filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, but in the meantime Charleston Water System's offered to purchase the properties that we alleged would be affected by the project, resolving this appeal.

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Debidue Groins

SCELP has filed a challenge to a permit issued by DHEC’s Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) to Debordieu Colony Community Association (DCCA) authorizing the construction of three groins on Debidue Beach. Groins are erosion control structures constructed perpendicular to the beach, typically in an effort to protect beachfront houses. The proposed Debidue groins would be constructed of an aluminum sheetpile wall, concrete fill and bolstered with granite rock, and would extend approximately 300 feet into the ocean.

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Moss

B & M Properties and Kenneth and Angela Moss applied for after-the-fact permits to fill in critical area salt marsh in connection with a bulkhead in Horry County. Moss represented Wayne Hill in our recent SC Supreme Court win where Hill illegally filled in salt marsh when he constructed his bulkhead. The after-the-fact permit was denied by DHEC/OCRM and we filed a motion to intervene to defend the agency’s decision.

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601 Bridge Federal Case

In 2006 the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed to widen causeways and construct four new bridges for US Highway 601 within the Congaree National Park, South Carolina’s only National Park. The project would fill wetlands that are part of a renowned ecosystem and ignored several environmental concerns including the blockage of sheetflow across the floodplain, disruption of animal migration resulting in deaths, habitat fragmentation, and altered hydrology of the floodplain.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) based on a limited Environmental Assessment (EA) which meant they were not required to give a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). We filed suit in Federal District Court to challenge the FONSI and lack of an EIS.

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Ballentine First

In this case SCELP represented Ballentine First and several home owners living in the Ermo area of SC.

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Norris Turkey Farm

A citizens group called Chesterfield Environmental Coalition, Inc., requested SCELP’s assistance in the appeal of an agricultural permit. The permit authorized two brooder turkey houses, as well as the disposal of the manure through a manure broker. The turkey farm would have produce 150,000 birds per year, generating 390 tons of waste per year.

The proposed turkey farm is located in Chesterfield County and is surrounded by several widely-used public recreation areas. These public recreation areas consist of the Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, the Sandhills State Forest, which includes the H. Cooper Black Field Trial and Recreation Area used for national field trials, and the Cheraw State Park, which includes a public golf course. The Sandhills State Forest is adjacent to the proposed Turkey Farm. The State Park and its golf course are approximately one mile away from the proposed facility. The Boy Scouts of America also has a nationally recognized camping facility approximately one mile from the farm. The Boy Scouts camp has a lake used for swimming by the campers and the lake is fed from a stream that originates at a wetland that is adjacent to the proposed turkey farm.

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Colony Pointe

Home owners in the Colony Pointe community of Debordieu sought a permit allowing them to dredge the canals within that area. Dredging in Debordieu has been prohibited since 1998 by a court order that was issued in response to a similar permit sought by the entire Debordieu community at that time. SCELP represented the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club in an attempt to enforce the 1998 court order and to disallow dredging in the Colony Point neighborhood.

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Williamsburg County Landfill

DHEC issued two decisions: (1) modifying the permit for the existing county landfill to raise its annual disposal rate to 400,000 tons per year, and (2) approving a “demonstration of need” for a new landfill also at 400,000 tons per year. We challenged both of these decisions in the Administrative Law Court in August of 2011.

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601 Bridge State Case

In 2006 the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed to widen causeways and construct four new bridges for US Highway 601 within the Congaree National Park, SC’s only National Park. The project would fill wetlands that are part of a renowned ecosystem and ignored several environmental concerns including the blockage of sheetflow across the floodplain, disruption of animal migration resulting in deaths, habitat fragmentation and altered hydrology of the floodplain.

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Risher Bridge

Jerry Risher applied for a critical area permit to construct a vehicular bridge across intertidal saltwater wetlands to access a 0.3 acre island located off Fripp Island. Under the new Access to Small Islands Regulations which became effective in 2006, bridge permits for a coastal island less than one acre in size are prohibited.

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Cliffs Mountain Park

Cliffs Communities proposes to build a golf course community on a 5,000 acre tract in Greenville County, along the North Saluda River. The golf course was planned by Gary Player and the design calls for the piping, bridging (24 crossings by bridges and “play overs”), impounding, and other alterations of the river and its tributaries. We have appealed a storm water permit and a permit for a sewage system that will have a high ground discharge.

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Wedgefield II

In 2003, Wedgefield Plantation Association (“Wedgefield”) applied for a navigable waters permit, coastal zone consistency certification and water quality certification to dredge canals within Wedgefield and place the spoil material in 14.92 acres of wetlands.

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Allendale Landfill

SCELP represented Sierra Club and its Allendale County members in opposing permits for a new landfill, proposed at the site of an old landfill with existing groundwater contamination problems.

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Project DP (Spectre)

A development group, Spectre, LLC, requested a state permit and coastal zone certification to fill 31.76 acres of wetlands on a 62.93 acre tract of land in Murrells Inlet in Horry County. The request would have converted this almost 32 acre cypress swamp into a large commercial development.

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Kiawah Island

Working with Audubon South Carolina and the S.C. Wildlife Federation, SCELP filed an appeal of a permit that would allow excavation of 150 acres of sand from the eastern end of Kiawah Island that is used by the federally endangered Piping Plover. This endangered bird´s habitat would be destroyed to protect a golf course.

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Riverside

SCELP represents the Coastal Conservation League and the Georgetown County League of Women Voters in challenging a project that would allow dredging of vegetated critical area salt marsh.

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Pawleys Island Golf Club

SCELP represented the Georgetown County League of Women Voters in the appeal of a coastal zone consistency certification to allow filling a 1.29 acre wetland for a redesigned golf course in Georgetown County. For projects like this, our Coastal Management Program only allows filling of wetlands one acre or less, unless there are no feasible alternatives.

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Nationwide Permit Certification Appeal

Under the Clean Water Act ("CWA"), the Corps of Engineers can issue nationwide permits ("NWP") for activities purportedly having minor impacts to waters and wetlands of the U.S. The CWA also gives DHEC authority to review these nationwide permits under a state certification program and allows DHEC to place additional conditions on them to ensure protection of wetlands. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act gives similar authority to OCRM.

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Bernholz Commercial Docking Facility

Goat Island is a small slice of natural, pristine beauty in Charleston County. The island does not have any serviceable roads and the residents enjoy the quiet, relaxed lifestyle of the island due in large part to difficulty accessing the island – the islanders transport all their goods by boat.

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Central Electric Power Line

On behalf of the Winyah Rivers Foundation, SCELP has challenged DHEC´s certification of a project that would rip through more than 14 acres of beautiful, mature forested wetlands and floodplains across pristine Lane´s Creek and the Black River – all in the face of evidence that alternative routes are available that would practically eliminate the environmental harm.

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Colleton County

Colleton County´s proposed Buzz Aldrin Business and Technology Park requested to fill in almost 30 acres of isolated freshwater wetlands for a commercial development. SCELP asked DHEC to deny the permit because it was entirely inconsistent with coastal protection laws, and the agency did in fact deny the permit. Colleton County appealed, challenging the validity of the Coastal Management Program – a program designed to protect isolated wetlands in the coastal zone.

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Wedgefield Plantation

Wedgefield Plantation Homeowners Association ("WPHA") applied for a permit to dredge the man-made canals within the community, and to place the dredged material in 15 acres of freshwater wetlands adjacent to the Black River in Georgetown County.

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Creekside Cottages

This case is an appeal of a permit issued to Charles E. Cox/Creekside Cottages to fill wetlands that drain into Parsonage Creek in Murrells Inlet. SCELP is representing the SC Coastal Conservation League, the League of Women Voters of Georgetown County, and Murrells Inlet residents, Chip Smith and Hobie Kraner, in this appeal.

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Wayne Hill

A lot owner in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach illegally filled in approximately 1500 sq. ft. of salt marsh to make his lot bigger.

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Inlet Oaks

This was an appeal of a permit issued to Inlet Oaks Development Corporation for the dredging of a canal, bulkheading, several docks and relocation of a boat ramp in a dead-end, man-made canal off Main Creek in Murrells Inlet. We represented the Leage of Women Voters of Georgetown County and the SC Coastal Conservation League.

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Fenwick Island

We represented the SC Coastal Conservation League in a state court citizens suit against Dewey Wise for violations of coastal critical area permitting requirements at Fenwick Island in the ACE Basin. Mr. Wise removed an old bridge and placed fill dirt in saltwater critical area to create a causeway, all without a required state permit. We believed the causeway should be removed and the area restored.

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Associated Developers

On behalf of the SC Coastal Conservation League, we are appealing OCRM's issuance of a permit to construct a cartpath across public trust tidelands to a small marsh island in Mt. Pleasant, Charleston County. The project does not comply with OCRM regulations and we believe that this permit could lead to evading the regulatory requirements and the development of small marsh islands.

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Carolina Bays Parkway

SCELP is local counsel working with the Southern Environmental Law Center to represent the SC Coastal Conservation League and the Waccamaw Audubon Society in a potential suit for violations under the Clean Water Act that occurred during construction of Phase I of the Carolina Bays Parkway.

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DeBordieu Dredging & Beach Nourishment Project

The DeBordieu Colony Community Association applied to OCRM for a permit to dredge sand from a sandbar in public waters in pristine North Inlet for beach renourishment. SCELP assisted the SC Coastal Conservation League, the Sierra Club, and the League of Women Voters of Georgetown County in opposing this project. A public hearing was held on December 17, 2003 where citizens voiced their concerns about the negative impacts associated with dredging in North Inlet.

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Isolated Freshwater Wetlands

After the 2001 Supreme Court decision, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, took away federal jurisdiction over isolated freshwater wetlands, the state's ability to regulate these wetlands has faced legal challenges. In a recent case, the state's authority to regulate these wetlands was under attack, but the developer eventually dropped these claims. Click on Update below for more information on this case.

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DeBordieu/Clemson

We assisted DeBordieu residents in securing a conservation easement over a 162-acre tract once slated for commercial development.

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Carl DiPace

We have been assisting a commercial shellfisher in protecting his shellfish lease area from violations of the SC Coastal Zone Management Act. The violator has formally agreed to remove the unpermitted structure and restore the disturbed area.

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Ashley River Docks

Assisting the SC Department of Archives and History ("Archives") in carrying out the Ashley River Historic District Special Area Management Plan by opposing dock permits.

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North Myrtle Beach - Perrone v. State

Can a family own the beach, creeks, canals, and marshes of Cherry Grove in North Myrtle Beach? In this case, the Perrone family claims to own the "critical areas" of the state's northernmost developed beach/estuarine resort area. SCELP represents the SC Coastal Conservation League and Sierra Club in helping the state defend this challenge to the Coastal Zone Management Act.

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Middleton Place Conservation Easements

We are assisting Middleton Place Foundation in negotiation of conservation easements to preserve views in the scenic Ashley River corridor.

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Wando River

In 1997, we represented 6 groups who were sued by a bankrupt developer who was seeking to overturn part of a 1979 settlement of a suit over the original Wando River port terminal in Mt. Pleasant, Charleston County. We successfully negotiated another settlement that obtained conservation easements along a large amount of waterfront along Wando River and one of its tributaries, Rat Hall Creek.

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Daufuskie Seawall

In 1988, after much study and upon recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Beachfront committee, South Carolina enacted the SC Beachfront Management Act.

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Standing Appeals

In a series of cases, several Administrative Law Judges have issued decisions holding that persons who use an effected resource lack standing to challenge permits that impact those resources. SCELP is pursuing appeals of two of those cases, hoping to get favorable rulings from the Supreme Court correcting the ALJ's ideas of standing.

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Wake Stone Mine

Challenge (on behalf of local group, Round Swamp Concerned Citizens) to permit for open-pit de-watered limestone mine in area prone to sinkholes. This case is pending in state court in Horry County. The legal issues are whether the SC Mining Council has legal jurisdiction to hear our appeal of a coastal zone consistency certification for the mine, whether the Mining Council erred in dismissing our appeal, and whether the Mining Council's appeals process violates constitutional rights.

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Daufuskie Island Marina

In 1985, a permit was issued for construction of an enormous marina on Daufuskie Island, but to date the marina has not been built. The permit has been renewed several times. In 2000, the SC Coastal Conservation League attempted to have input into the renewal process, but the agency renewed the permit without notifying the League. On behalf of the League, SCELP is now challenging this renewal. Our latest appeal is pending in the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

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Myrtle Trace

In 1990 when Myrtle Trace, a community located near Conway, was developed, a buffer area was set aside as a nature preserve and mitigation for wetlands filled by the developer, International Paper (IP). This land also served as a buffer area between the Myrtle Trace residential development and the Conway Hospital complex. The property was later sold to another developer, Hospital Land Partners Realty, who proposed to develop the 8.5 acre tract of land that was set aside by constructing an assisted living facility. SCELP assisted a neighborhood group in overturning this permit and we were successful. DHEC and the Court of Common Pleas ruled that the 1990 set-aside of the land was binding and denied the requested permits.

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McQueen Takings Case

SCELP filed an amicus brief in this appeal. The case went to the S. C. Supreme Court. This issue was whether denial of a wetland fill permit is an unconstitutional taking.

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Port Royal Plantation

Appeal of permit for groin construction on Hilton Head Island beach, Beaufort County; in 2001, we won this case in the SC Court of Appeals; however, an appeal in the SC Supreme Court had this decision overruled.

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Big Landing

Property purchasers at Big Landing were promised that no private docks would interfere with their view of pristine marshes and creeks; the developer later asked the state to amend a permit to allow for private docks; SCELP is now handling the appeal of the permit modification which removes the restriction on dock construction for this Horry County development.

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Cherry Grove/Heritage Shores

In 1998, SCELP filed an appeal of permits for wetland fill, bridging, and development of a filled-in marsh area in North Myrtle Beach; our clients are two groups and a large number of individuals loosely allied as neighbors; after winning our permit appeal, we negotiated a successful settlement that preserves about one-third of the proposed development area as a public recreation area; the file is open now only for monitoring compliance with the settlement conditions.

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Safety-Kleen/Laidlaw Landfill

After 15 years of legal proceedings, in 2000 SCELP finally won the Sierra Club's appeal of the permit for this hazardous waste landfill, located on the shores of Lake Marion in Sumter County, and the landfill is now closed. The landfill filed suit in Federal Court, but so far we have defeated all efforts in that case. The landfill company is now in bankruptcy.

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