Neighbors file lawsuit over creation of new lots – Coastal Observer


Neighbors file lawsuit over creation of new lots

Ray Tanner shows the ocean view from his home during a hearing last year.

Property owners at Litchfield Beach filed suit this week to overturn Georgetown County’s approval of a zoning change that allows two new houses to be built on the site of a former water treatment plant at Inlet Point South.

“County Council members had no idea what they were amending when they voted to approve the amendment,” according to the suit filed in Circuit Court on behalf of Ray Tanner and Salty Rims LLC.

They own houses on Clubhouse Creek that face the ocean across the .87-acre treatment plant property. 

Tanner is the athletic director at the University of South Carolina. The members of Salty Rims are Eric and Jennifer Obaugh of Staunton, Va.

The plaintiffs were among the owners in the gated community who told the Planning Commission and County Council that the new houses would block views that they thought were protected through restrictive covenants and the county’s “planned development” zoning.

The property is owned by the Peninsula at Inlet Point South Owners Association, which represents 33 lots. 

Those owners are also part of the Inlet Point South Community Association, which has 26 additional lots. The Peninsula association completed a beach renourishment project in 2022 and plans to sell the new lots to fund future renourishment.

The Peninsula lots are located within a federal Coastal Barrier Resources Act zone, where no federal funds could be spent for development. 

The development had its own water and sewer treatments until 2022, when the Georgetown County Water and Sewer District agreed to provide service after determining it wouldn’t affect its ability to receive federal funds.

The suit argues that the planned development zoning for Inlet Point South that was approved by the county in 1989 is no longer valid because it fails to comply with state law. 

Since 1994, state law has required that planned developments must have a mix of uses, which the state Supreme Court said in a 2010 opinion means residential and commercial uses.

The Inlet Point planned development doesn’t comply “therefore, cannot be amended under the current PD designation,” the suit states.

And since there is no commercial use, it is ineligible for planned development zoning, the suit states, which means Inlet Point South needs to be treated as a “nonconforming land use.”

State law and the county zoning ordinance prohibit new construction unless it conforms to the regulations, the suit argues.

The plaintiffs ask the court to declare the zoning change invalid and “disallow any further development within the IPS subdivision in violation of the law.” They also seek an injunction against the subdivision of the treatment plant site.

Update: This article was updated to reflect that Richard and Laurel Landes are not owners of Salty Rims and not part of the suit.



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