September 16, 2021

Supreme Court Affirms People Over Profit | September E-News

Dear friend,

September kicked off with great news for our coast. The South Carolina Supreme Court denied a developer's final attempt to build a massive steel wall leading out to Captain Sams Spit, reaffirming its June 2nd ruling that economic interests cannot outweigh your right to access, use and enjoy the spit's protected tidelands. 

I am hopeful that the Court's decision will discourage any further attempts to develop this fragile barrier island spit and public trust resource. Nevertheless, Your Lawyers for the Wild Side will continue fighting until Captain Sams is permanently protected. 

The SCELP team works every day to safeguard the places we treasure. In the Upstate, we are considering legal action in response to Greenville County Council's hurried and secretive effort to pass a new land use rule that gives developers further ease to encroach into unzoned and rural communities.

In addition to keeping busy in court, the SCELP team is increasingly engaging with local governments to advocate for sensible land use regulations and decision-making. Our state is facing even greater environmental threats and challenges and we need responsible leaders to rise up to them. A state law passed in 2020 requires a resiliency element as part of any Comprehensive Plan in order to drive policies that protect people and structures from increasingly frequent and intense storm events and a changing climate. Taking stock of our natural systems and assets, this new element must urgently drive future land use plans and ordinances if our communities can hope to adapt and thrive in the decades ahead.

In all this, we need your continued support as we confront the most pressing threats to South Carolina's land, water and communities. With your help, we will keep fighting, and we will keep winning.  

Gratefully, 

Amy E. Armstrong

P.S. I've heard from many who are disappointed about not being able to find tickets for Wild Side. Yes, we are sold out but please contact Alison Geer at alison@scelp.org to be added to the wait list. If you cannot attend on October 2nd, consider participating in our fantastic online auction (details below).

Captain Sams Case Will Not be Reheard

We are celebrating again with our partners at the Coastal Conservation League following another favorable Supreme Court order in our Captain Sams Spit legal saga. On September 1st, the Court denied a developer's petition for rehearing, effectively ending their efforts to build a 2,380-foot steel sheet pile wall and utility infrastructure to facilitate a 50-house development on the spit. "Since 2009 we have been committed to ensuring that the sandy shores of the Kiawah River remain in a natural state, available for both humans and wildlife to use and enjoy, and we are delighted that the Court has put an end to this ill-conceived plan to seal and wall off this public shoreline," Amy said. Learn more ... 

Fighting Georgetown Groin Installation

Pictured here: Hunting Island State Park groin; Leslie Lenhardt with at Alan Hancock and Becky Ryon of the Coastal Conservation League at the Administrative Law Court in Columbia. 

For years, we have successfully staved off the construction of three rock groins just above the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Groins are erosion control structures that trap sand as the waves push it down the beach. However, as you can see in the picture above, groins inevitably deprive downdrift beaches of sand. Although our case against the Debordieu Colony Community Association is still pending before the Court of Appeals, we learned over the summer that the community intends to proceed with groin construction in November, or before the Court of Appeals even has the chance to hear our case. On behalf of the Coastal Conservation League, we promptly filed a motion to stay all construction activities, and at Wednesday's hearing at the Administrative Law Court, Staff Attorney Leslie Lenhardt made excellent arguments to Judge Anderson to not only preserve the status quo but to protect the constitutional right to meaningful judicial review. Read more about this case ... 

Legal Warning Lodged at Greenville County Council

Upstate Staff Attorney Michael Martinez sent a letter to Greenville County Council warning that they could face a lawsuit for violating their own procedural rules and state law when they rushed the adoption of a substantially amended replacement ordinance to Article 3.1, a land use rule aimed at stemming sprawl, with no public input or council debate. "As elected representatives for Greenville County, councilmembers have a clear legal obligation to conduct the official business of the County in a public and transparent manner that ensures constituents have an effective voice," Michael said. Read his letter ...

Meet Rachel, Esther and Monica

Three new faces joined the SCELP team! Meet Rachel Oliver, who previously worked in Manhattan's hospitality industry and eagerly repositioned her career path as SCELP's new Legal Assistant. We also welcomed Legal Interns Esther Wininger, a J.D. Candidate at the Charleston School of Law and Monica Whalen, a J.D. Candidate at the Northeastern University School of Law. We are grateful and fortunate to have them fight with us to protect the Wild Side of South Carolina. The three have already been very busy helping Leslie prepare for court this week in our Debidue Groins case.

Register for the Wild Side Online Auction!

Although tickets to the 12th Annual Wild Side have sold out, you can still take part in our online auction, which is now open for registration! Our generous supporters have donated a fabulous array of experiences and items for auction, from a guided paddle of the Waccamaw River to a three-day stay in a cozy Saluda cabin. Browse the collection and mark your calendar for September 25th, when bidding officially starts and lasts for a whole week!

If you would like to donate to our online auction, please contact Alison Geer at alison@scelp.org or 843-527-0078.

12th Annual Wild Side

We are grateful to Polymer Ventures, Biohabitats and Tito's Vodka, returning sponsors for Wild Side. Such loyal support directly enables our work to protect South Carolina's land, water and communities.

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