February 16, 2023

Mike Woodel, The Post and Courier

Environmental plan was weakened before Georgetown County Council’s approval, opponents say

The Georgetown County Council unanimously gave preliminary approval to the natural resources portion of its comprehensive plan Feb. 14 despite criticism from conservation groups that say the draft’s language is not strong enough.

Conservation group representatives said they were shocked at changes in the draft on natural resources that was approved by the county planning commission in November. The changes came in a review of the county’s comprehensive plan — a map for future development — that is updated every 10 years.

Staff attorney Emily Nellermoe of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project noted language that called for prevention of clear-cutting trees on lots was removed and replaced with language urging the county to “help prevent clear-cutting of protected trees.” (...)

“There’s a huge problem with stormwater here,” Nellermoe said. “So, yeah, (S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control) does some regulation of stormwater, but it’s also a county problem.”

Nellermoe was joined by Becky Ryon of the Coastal Conservation League and Marilyn Hemingway of the Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce in speaking against the draft presented to council.

“This is not what planning commission approved,” Ryon said. “This is not what the numerous stakeholders recommended.”

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