June 10, 2021

BIG Victory for Our Tidelands | E-news for June 2021

Dear Friend, 

Who owns our rivers, shorelines and beaches? The simple answer is you. Safeguarding public trust properties and resources is not just common sense, it's about protecting your rights to access, use and recreate on those resources.

Last week’s resounding opinion from the Supreme Court in our long-running Captain Sams Spit legal saga reinforced this important concept: the public’s right to fish, boat, walk and otherwise enjoy the spit’s protected tidelands cannot be subordinated by economic interests.

“What’s at stake is a public trust resource," I told the Post & Courier following our win. “We don’t have any more of these tidelands. What we have is limited and so special and so well-used and well-loved that we’ve got to protect it.” 

As you'll read in the other updates below, Your Lawyers for the Wild Side continue to face new and pressing threats to our land, water and communities. But you know you can count on us to stick to it and, even if it takes more than a decade, keep winning for South Carolina's special places for this and future generations.  

Thank you for your continued support and engagement,   

Amy E. Armstrong

Supreme Court: This Tideland is Your Tideland

For over a decade, a developer has relentlessly pursued construction of 50 houses on Captain Sams Spit on Kiawah Island—a fragile and pristine barrier island spit and one of the last in the state that is publicly accessible. And for over a decade, SCELP and our partners at the Coastal Conservation League have successfully fought back against this senseless project. Last week's third major favorable ruling from the Supreme Court—in which the justices reversed the Administrative Law Court's approval of a 2,380-foot steel wall and other infrastructure that would facilitate the efforts to build on the spit—was another nail in the coffin for this bad idea. According to the opinion authored by Justice Kaye Hearn, “while economic interests are relevant, relying on tax revenue or increased employment opportunities is not sufficient justification for eliminating the public's use of protected tidelands.” We celebrate this victory with supporters like you who have encouraged and inspired us in this long legal battle, which will hopefully be put to bed for good after the court's resounding decision.

Standing for Citizens' Rights and Health Against Coal Ash

More news from the Supreme Court: Amy asked the Justices to uphold the Court of Appeals ruling in our Pickens County case, which held that state regulators evaded the required public notice and comment period before modifying a Pickens County landfill permit to accept noxious wastes, likely including coal ash. We are hopeful that the high court will stand for citizens' rights and health and uphold the earlier ruling. Watch the oral arguments here.

Article 3.1 Goes to Court

Earlier this month, the Greenville Circuit Court heard staff attorney Mike Martinez's arguments in a case about the Fews Crossing subdivision, a proposed high-density subdivision sited alongside Foyster Creek. On behalf of Northern Greenville County Rural Landowners, Mike said the county planning commission failed to apply the requirements of a county land development rule called Article 3.1 when approving the subdivision due to the project's flooding risks and incompatibility with surrounding land-use density. This appeal is a critical component of our ongoing efforts to ensure the adoption and proper implementation of land development regulations like Article 3.1 to avoid unrestrained and unwise sprawl.

Fighting for Waites Island Preservation

The news is out about our efforts to protect Waites Island, an undeveloped barrier island in Horry County. As My Horry News reported, the Coastal Educational Foundation filed a lawsuit against one of its own benefactors (our client), blocking a larger effort to preserve Waites Island for the benefit of the public, ideally as a heritage preserve. We are hopeful to find an out-of-court resolution with the Foundation.  

12th Annual Wild Side

We hope you will plan to join us on October 2nd at Kaminski House in Georgetown, and we will share more details soon.

Demonstrate your business' commitment to protecting South Carolina's land, water and communities—and reach new audiences—by sponsoring Wild Side. Or add your support to our online auction with an experience or other in-kind donation. Contact Alison Geer at alison@scelp.org or 843-527-0078 to discuss options.

Summer Plans?

Don’t take a vacation from caring for your loved ones and our state's natural environment — create a free plan to ensure they’re always cared for. 280,000 people have already used this resource to protect their loved ones and assets — will you join them? We have partnered with FreeWill to help ensure our community can find peace of mind and a sense of security as we look ahead, together.

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