Sunset Cay Social Club opposed by Folly, state

Sunset Cay Social Club on the Folly River has appealed the city denial of its business license. The owners say that it operates like a convenience store. Folly Beach officials say it is more like a bar.

State and city regulators are challenging the legality of Sunset Cay Social Club on the Folly River.

At issue is whether the club is allowed under the environmental permit for a marina where the club is located, officials said.

Officials with the state Office of Coastal Resource Management visited the property last fall and saw “numerous mini-bottles of liquor and other items indicative of beverage service,” and a liquor license on a wall. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a “cease and desist” order to stop the beverage service.

A petition on behalf of the club filed with DHEC argues that the club’s sales of beverages and pre-packaged food are allowed by an amendment to the marina permit.

However, DHEC argues that selling the refreshments is a non-water dependent activity over a coastal waters critical area and a violation of the marina permit. The building sits above the water.

“DHEC is preparing a response to a request for declaratory ruling made by Sunset Cay Social Club regarding the scope of allowable uses under the (marina) permit. We expect to have our response completed by Aug. 1,” DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said in an email.

In addition to the beverage issue, early last year OCRM staff reported “non-water dependent structures” being built over the coastal waters critical area at the marina. DHEC issued a “cease and desist” order to stop construction of a restaurant and apartment at the site, according to agency documents.

Folly Beach denied a city business license for the club, and that decision is being appealed to City Council at a meeting scheduled August 9, officials said.

“This is a fiasco with OCRM. It makes us look like the bad guys,” said Mayor Tim Goodwin.

The city issued a license for a ships store at the marina earlier this year but it was revoked because the city concluded the owners were operating a bar, officials said.

John Oliver, spokesman for the social club, described it as “basically a convenience store” open seven days weekly.

“You can go get your sub out of the cooler,” he said.

“This is on private property but my deck is the public place for the marina.”

“We’re just like the Sand Dollar,” Oliver said.

The Sand Dollar Social Club is on Center Street. Patrons pay a small fee to join and it is members only.

For years, Sunset Cay has been a popular draw for locals and tourists who go there for the view.

“It’s gorgeous. The best sunset in town,” Oliver said.