110217 Breaking news: State delays beachfront lines until April
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The proposed lines will move behind the houses to the creek side of Springs Avenue on Pawleys Island.

Breaking news: State delays beachfront lines until April

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The state has extended the comment period on proposed beachfront jurisdictional lines until April. The comment period was due to close Monday.

“Based on feedback received during the original 30-day comment period, DHEC feels it is appropriate to give property owners and other interested parties more time to meet with department staff, understand the methodology used to set the jurisdictional lines and bring the department any additional information for consideration,” the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement Friday.

At issue are two lines that define the state’s jurisdiction: the baseline, which defines the crest of the most seaward dune; and the setback line, based on an estimate of erosion over the next 40 years. On the southern end of Pawleys Island and portions of Garden City, the lines extend to second-row lots. The lines have been adjusted in the past, but under state law this is the last time the baseline will ever move seaward. Construction is still allowed in the jurisdictional area, but it requires special permits similar to those required for docks and walkways.

The DHEC board was initially expected to take up a request from Gov. Henry McMaster to delay implementation when it meets next week. Instead, the agency staff announced the delay.

“That’s a decision of staff and legal counsel,” state Rep. Lee Hewitt, a former DHEC board member, said. “I appreciate DHEC and all they’ve done in realizing the importance of the impact this had on property and property owners along the coast.”

The town of Pawleys Island launched an effort to make property owners aware of the changes, but elsewhere along the coast, it took a couple of weeks for awareness to grow. “I’ve got legislators calling me from Greenville, Spartanburg and Columbia,” Hewitt said. “I can only imagine what [McMaster’s] been getting.”

DHEC will begin to adopt final revised beachfront jurisdictional lines in May 2018 with all lines published by Dec. 31, 2018. Existing jurisdictional lines will remain in place until final revised lines are adopted.

The decision to adopt revised lines after Dec. 31, 2017 affects owners of property where the proposed baseline moves seaward of the existing baseline. DHEC wants those property owners to contact the department prior to Dec. 4 by email or phone at 843-953-0200 to receive information on requesting a board review. DHEC will also attempt to reach those owners by mail.

The lines and information about them can be viewed online.

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