FOLLY BEACH — A proposed sea wall bill was left to sit in a state Senate committee Thursday.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee can reintroduce the bill in the January 2014 session. The committee also could bring it back up this year, but likely wouldn’t meet the May 1 deadline to move bills to the House of Representatives.
The bill would have allowed homeowners to build sea walls and other hardened structures to protect their properties if seas came or could come within 10 feet. Most are allowed only sand bags and other “soft structures” now.
Environmentalists and others were concerned that the bill could undermine state regulations that restrict the walls coastwide.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Glenn Reese, D-Spartanburg, to help a constituent and friend, Ed Yarborough of Spartanburg, who owns a beachfront home on Folly that has lost dunes. The property has been pressed by tides since Hurricane Irene.
The bill had been amended to try to narrow it to Folly Beach homeowners.
Sens. Kent Williams, D-Marion, and Tom Young, R-Aiken, expressed concerns that even with the amendment, the bill might not be narrowly tailored enough.
“There’s clearly a problem,” Young said. “There’s the potential to impact the whole coast.”
Williams said he wanted to make sure the committee didn’t totally undo the rules the Legislature put in place 15 years ago.
Committee Chairman Danny Verdin, R-Laurens, said there had been a lack of willingness by the Department of Health and Environmental Control and its Ocean and Coastal Resource Management division to engage on the bill and stake out a position.
Verdin said he plans to take up the matter with DHEC Director Catherine Templeton, who lives in Mount Pleasant.
Stephen Largen contributed to this report.