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Sullivan's Island Residents Beach Bummed

Beachfront construction irks neighbors, environmentalists

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One of the rare slips of untouched beachfront property along Marshall Boulevard on Sullivan's Island is facing development, with neighbors worried about their view and environmentalists worried about state permitting as the beach struggles with persistent erosion.

Neighbor Bill Walker, who has lived across the street for three decades, believed that the narrow property would never be developed. But, as often is the case, development finds a way. Now, mounds of sand have piled up, some of it already washed away by the high tides, and tall pilings outline the building's footprint.

Property owner Island Place and managing partner Ron Blanchard have followed state and local requirements, attorney Jeff Griffith told The Post and Courier. "(Blanchard) is doing everything he can to be a good neighbor and a good property owner," Griffith says.

The nonprofit environmentalists at Coastal Conservation League were keeping an eye on the project when it was permitted for beach renourishment and thought they'd have an opportunity to comment on any development before construction began.

But the state's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management says its permit process doesn't allow for objections when the project meets its guidelines, says spokesman Daniel Burger, including limiting the size of the building and keeping it at a prescribed distance away from the shoreline.

As for concerns about erosion, Burger says the property owner will be responsible for renourishment, but the state can't require it. The state commissioned a Shoreline Committee which recently completed a report on protecting the coast. Their general proposals will be whittled down to specific recommendations by a Blue Ribbon Panel (no doubt to be followed by a council of elders and maybe a league of superheroes).

The panel will address issues involving construction in highly erosional areas. "They'll be looking at ways we can strengthen regulations and policies so we're not putting development in harm's way," Burger says.

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