July 28, 2022

Sammy Fretwell, The State

Homeowners’ lawyers helped draft research pitch that left sandbags on affluent SC beach

Earlier this year, attorneys for some oceanfront homeowners south of Myrtle Beach convinced a state board to let their clients keep a wall of sandbags the property owners had been accused of installing illegally to protect their houses from the sea.

The attorneys touted a Coastal Carolina University professor’s proposed scientific research as a key reason for keeping the sandbags, even though sandbags can worsen beach erosion. Had the state Department of Health and Environmental Control board refused to go along, the Debordieu homeowners could have been fined and forced to remove the wall of sandbags.

But while lawyers pitched the research plan as a way for well-regarded scientist Paul Gayes to learn about beach protection efforts, emails obtained recently by The State show that the attorneys helped Gayes draft the proposal that got their clients out of trouble.

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