The controversy continues to smoulder over Captain Sam’s Spit on Kiawah Island. The state Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a planned development, but conservationists pledge to keep fighting it.
Those efforts are justified, given the extraordinary environmental value of the unspoiled beach property.
And the tension might just spawn Plan C, which would surely eliminate future disputes: Make Captain Sam’s Spit an extension of the adjacent Charleston County’s Beachwalker Park.
If that were to happen, the half-mile-long bulkhead proposed by Kiawah Development Partners (KDP) wouldn’t be needed, and the wildlife that thrive on that volatile spit of land could continue to flourish.
Charleston County Park and Recreation Director Tom O’Rourke says it’s an intriguing idea.
“It certainly would be an exceptional park,” Mr. O’Rourke said Friday. He adds, however, that PRC doesn’t have the resources to buy the beachfront property. PRC leases Beachwalker Park, which provides public access to the Kiawah beach.
“I don’t think we could do it locally,” he said. But he speculates that the idea could have national support, given Kiawah’s high profile as a resort destination.
The prospect is worth PRC’s attention. The agency has an outstanding track record of adding to Charleston County’s inventory of park land.
Over the last five years, the agency has doubled the county’s park acreage, largely thanks to the public’s support of a referendum for additional funding.
PRC should examine the prospect of adding the 150-acre tract on Kiawah to the park system.
The current property battle shows no sign of easing.
At issue is a plan to build a concrete bulkhead on the sandy tip of Kiawah Island, just across from Seabrook Island.
This would enable the company to build 50 houses on the 150-acre tract.
Recently the state Supreme Court voted 3-2 to allow construction of the bulkhead, despite its 2011 ruling that rejected the project.
The same cast of characters. The same site. The same scientific information. Just a different legal interpretation.
Not surprisingly, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project has appealed for a rehearing by the state’s high court.
Even if the decision stands, KDP will have more hurdles to clear before it begins driving piles. SCELP could choose to oppose each one.
Given that the proposed development could harm important habitat for bottlenose dolphins, piping plovers and diamondback terrapin, conservationists have good reason to persist in their efforts to stop the development.
The likelihood of costly legal struggles for KDP and resistance in the court of public opinion might encourage the developer to consider what sounds like a pipe dream, but could be an agreeable alternative for everyone.
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