Folly Beach’s name may never seem more fitting than when one learns about a fresh legal battle playing out there — a battle that ultimately will decide if taxpayer-funded beach renourishment opens the door for public land to be converted back into private property whose owners may then build new homes on lots previously under water. The city and its allies should ensure this doesn’t happen.
Unfortunately, that will be a challenge because of Folly’s dynamic nature and unique history. More than a half century ago, Folly Beach had a road, Benke Drive, that ran between East Ashley and the ocean’s edge on the island’s easternmost end; this part of the beach was growing, and lots on both sides of Benke were platted and sold off. By the early 1980s, however, the sands shifted, and Benke was lost to erosion, and its lots were under water. A few years later, however, a sandbar migrated across Lighthouse Inlet and attached itself to the northern end of Folly, and some lots along Benke were high ground again. And the state baseline was drawn through the yet-undeveloped Benke Drive lots, allowing development on 28 of them.