PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A NOTICE THAT IS PUBLISHED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY FOR ALL PROPERTY OWNERS. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. IF AFTER REVIEWING THIS INFORMATION, YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR RIGHTS MAY BE AFFECTED BY THIS INFORMATION, YOU SHOULD CONSULT YOUR OWN ATTORNEY TO ENSURE THAT YOUR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED
The Current DHEC/OCRM Situation and Recent Important Development
The recently proposed movement of the state beachfront jurisdictional lines by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Office of Coastal Control and Resource Management (ORCM), which was announced on October 6, 2017, should be of interest to Property Owners, but especially those whose properties are beachfront. On Seabrook Island, this appears to be particularly relevant to properties located between Camp St. Christopher and monument 2515 (Pelican Watch Villas). As you probably are aware from our other announcements, DHEC has extended the comment period generally through April 6, 2017. However, April 6, 2018, is not the only important date of which to be aware.
By operation of law, the extension of the comment period also created a November 20, 2017 deadline for Property Owners whose jurisdictional lines have been proposed to move seaward (toward the water) rather than landward (away from the water) to preserve their rights to the proposed seaward movement of the lines. It is also important to note, that the November 20th deadline is two weeks shorter than the deadline DHEC-OCRM had announced in its November 3rd public notice.
Seaward Movement Prohibition
Even though DHEC extended the comment period to April 6, 2018, state law does not permit any jurisdictional line to move seaward from its current position after December 31, 2017, regardless of when the comment period ends. That means that even if seaward movement of the lines has been currently proposed by DHEC, that seaward movement would only be permitted under state law if the final DHEC rule is enacted prior to December 31, 2017. Since DHEC has extended the comment period until April 6, 2018, the final DHEC rule will not be enacted prior to December 31, 2017, and therefore, the lines that were proposed to move seaward from their current positions will be prohibited from moving seaward. While DHEC’s decision to extend the comment period to April 6, 2018 benefited the majority of landowners along the entirety of South Carolina’s coast due to the fact that the majority of the jurisdictional lines are proposed to move landward, that decision by DHEC technically took away the benefit of seaward movement of the lines for those property owners whose jurisdictional lines were proposed to move seaward. The only way for a Property Owner to preserve the right to have the jurisdictional lines on their property move seaward, if seaward movement has been currently proposed by DHEC, is for the Property Owner to take action with DHEC by November 20, 2017.
November 20 Deadline
The DHEC decision to extend the comment period until April 6, 2018 was announced on November 3, 2017, which triggered a 15-day period for property owners subject to the jurisdictional lines to appeal DHEC’s decision to extend the comment period. To preserve their right to have those lines move seaward, Property Owners who would have benefitted from the proposed seaward movement of the jurisdictional lines on their property MUST file a “Request for Final Review” with DHEC by 5:00 p.m. on November 20, 2017 (November 20, 2017 is the next business day after the 15-day period following November 3.) If a Property Owner does not file a Request for Final Review that is received by DHEC by 5:00 p.m. on November 20, 2017, the lines will revert to their current positions and the Property Owner’s opportunity to move the lines seaward will be forever lost. (Note that filing a Request for Final Review will not affect the extended comment period on other issues, and the comment period will still run until April 6, 2018.)
What should you do if you are a Property Owner?
You should first look at the proposed lines on the DHEC map (http://scdhec.gov/Agency/NewsReleases/2017/nr20170311-01/ ) to see whether the proposed beach setback and baselines that are applicable to your property are proposed to move closer to the water (seaward) or farther inland (landward) than the current lines. Next, if the proposed lines on your property have moved closer to the water (seaward), you should seek legal advice about whether and how to preserve your rights to the proposed seaward movement of the lines.
Attached is general information from DHEC regarding the procedure for appealing DHEC decisions, such as the November 3 decision by DHEC to extend the comment period.
What are SIPOA and the Town doing?
It is important to understand that neither SIPOA nor the Town of Seabrook Island can protect your property rights for you, because they do not have the legal right to do so. If your property is affected by the current DHEC/OCRM situation, you must take action yourself. The Board and the Town urge you to seek legal advice as soon as possible due to the upcoming November 20, 2017 deadline. In addition, because SIPOA owns portions of the dunes and beach (generally near the Pelican Watch regime area) that are subject to proposed seaward movement of the jurisdictional lines, the Board is investigating whether it is appropriate for SIPOA to file a Request for Final Review with regard to that particular property to preserve the right to seaward movement of those particular jurisdictional lines.
– Submitted by Ed Houff, President, SIPOA Board of Directors