The fragile extended peninsula at the southern end of Kiawah Island should be conserved and not built upon, so we’re puzzled and disappointed by the town’s recent decision to approve an extension for a preliminary subdivision plat there.
While that move might not give the developers the necessary permission to begin construction of homes or even a road, it does keep that option open, at least for another year. And it would seem to clash with what we see as the town’s interest in ensuring the property is ultimately conserved rather than becoming a national poster child for ill-considered coastal development, particularly during an era when the realities of climate change are becoming clearer than ever.
We had hoped that last year's S.C. Supreme Court ruling would change the conversation: It concluded that a state agency had erred when it issued permits for a 2,380-foot-long steel wall along where the spit abuts the Kiawah River — a wall desired because it would stabilize the site for future automobile access. The court ruled the agency didn’t properly scrutinize the wall’s impact on coastal water, tidelands, beaches and dunes. This was the third time the state’s highest court had overruled lower court decisions that would have enabled development plans.
So we support the recent move by conservationists, as reported by The Post and Courier's John Ramsey, to challenge the town’s decision to grant the plat extension. The lawsuit claims the developers missed the legal deadline and that the plat in question is 7 years old and needs to be reworked to account for recent geological changes to this ever-shifting barrier island tip. In a discretionary call, government should favor conservation.