August 25, 2022

Will the Captain Sams Spit saga ever end? - August 2022 E-News

Dear Friend,

As the summer is winding down, I'm grateful for many fun-filled days on our state's beaches, creeks and rivers with family and friends, and I'm looking forward to spending time in our mountains in the upcoming weeks. Being able to enjoy nature, from the mountains to the marshes, gives me great inspiration. But I am equally inspired by you, our supporters, and the amazing SCELP Board and staff.

On July 29, the entire SCELP staff from all four offices convened in Charleston for a day of learning and team building. With 13 staff members scattered across the state, being together physically in one room is a rare and precious opportunity - one that all of us enjoyed very much. Thank you to Lowcountry Land Trust for offering the space to allow us to do so!

On the legal front, August has been another busy month, including a new Captain Sams Spit case, another subdivision challenge on behalf of Greenville County's rural citizens and a fight to save two beautiful landmark oak trees in Port Royal. Keep reading for more details on each. I also want to take a minute to share this article by Sammy Fretwell on our Debidue sandbag case with Coastal Conservation League, where we just asked the ALC to reconsider its terrible decision to dismiss.

Last but certainly not least, Wild Side is coming up in just a few weeks on September 17. It's not too late to purchase a table and invite your friends and family to join in the fun as we gather together at the historic Kaminski House in Georgetown for our signature annual fundraiser. I'd love to greet you personally and say thank you for your incredible support of our work to protect the Wild Side of South Carolina.

Captain Sams Spit Fight: Ready for Another Round?

Appealing the Town of Kiawah Island's preliminary subdivision plat extension for this fragile spit

After over 13 years of successful legal challenges, we're back in court to protect Captain Sams Spit. This month, we filed an appeal on behalf of PreserveKiawah, a nonprofit group comprised of Kiawah property owners, challenging the Town of Kiawah Island Planning Commission's July 6 decision to extend the approval of a preliminary subdivision plat.

The plat, initially approved in 2015, lays out plans to construct 50 single family homes on this dynamic, teardrop-shaped isthmus located on the southern end of Kiawah Island, surrounded by the Kiawah River, the Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. While the plat alone doesn’t allow for any development to occur, the extension request signals the developer's intention to continue pursuing development on this shifting sand mass.

A great recent editorial from the staff at The Post and Courier puts it quite clearly, and we hope that years of tireless legal work will help set the stage for a resounding conservation win not only for Kiawah and Charleston County, but for all residents of South Carolina.

For a full recap of what's happened on Captain Sams Spit over the years and how SCELP has staved off these ill-advised development plans at each turn, click here.

Preserving a River from Rampant Development

Helping concerned citizens in rural Greenville County | Photo by Anna Mitchell for The Post and Courier

Our Upstate staff attorney, Mike Martinez, was back in court on Monday morning after the Greenville County Planning Commission and developers of the proposed, ironically named, River Preserve subdivision requested dismissal of our case. They were seeking to prevent Citizens for Quality Rural Living's day in court on a technical procedural rule - one that SCELP fully complied with. Thankfully, Judge Verdin ruled in favor of Citizens for Quality Rural Living, allowing this appeal to move forward.

This is the most recent step in an overall strategy by SCELP to force the County to adopt and enforce sensible rural land use planning. The River Preserve plans include 210 homes, each with individual septic tanks - with several lots located close to the Reedy River. Read more...

Stumped at Port Royal's Decision on Landmark Trees

Two landmark oak trees in Port Royal are currently in limbo | Photo (left) by Coastal Conservation League

Two landmark trees, one over 40 inches and one 60 inches in diameter and estimated to be nearly 200 years old, are under threat by developers trying to clear the land for five homes in Port Royal.

While the Town tree ordinance protects "landmark" trees, including live oaks over 24 inches in diameter, a permit for removal can be issued if the request meets the criteria listed. Port Royal chose to grant the permit, and the following morning, work began to cut limbs off one of the trees - until a brave concerned citizen, Elizabeth Bergmann, filed a brief appeal with the Town of Port Royal Board of Zoning Appeals, initiating a stop work order.

SCELP is representing Bergmann in her efforts to prevent the developers from doing further damage to either tree. Our staff attorney Emily Nellermoe is preparing an amended appeal of the Town's decision. Stay tuned for more on this case!

Limited Number of Tables Still Available for Wild Side

Thank you to all the sponsors who are supporting this year's Wild Side, including: Biohabitats and Whitfield-Cargile Law, PLLC.

Individual tickets for Wild Side are sold out, but a limited number of tables are still available! We'd love to have you join us on Saturday, September 17 at the historic Kaminski House in Georgetown for our signature annual fundraiser. Purchase your table today!

Guests will be able to enjoy fantastic locally sourced cuisine from Root, cocktails, music by Prettier Than Matt and waterfront views from the lawn of this historic home. Our online auction, which opens on September 10, will offer the opportunity to bid on unique items and experiences.

Learn more about this year's Wild Side, including the event schedule and guest speaker details on our website. We can't wait to celebrate with you! 

For any questions or to be added to the ticket waiting list, contact Alison at or 843-527-0078.

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