ISLE OF PALMS — A city proposal that could allow digging up truckloads of sand near Dewees Inlet to fight erosion in Wild Dunes has drawn the ire of residents living near the inlet.
Environmental regulators also have expressed concern about the effect of taking large amounts of sand from near the inlet.
“Please do not rob Peter to pay Paul here. The approach will be counterproductive. New sand needs to be brought in from other sources,” Ocean Point resident Cathy H. Griffin said in a letter to state regulators.
She is among more than two dozen residents of Ocean Point in Wild Dunes who have written letters of protest.
Ocean Point Homeowners Association’s opposition to the proposal has triggered a state Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management public hearing on the issue scheduled for March 12 at City Hall.
If approved by state and federal environmental regulators, the city proposal would allow a contractor to dig up to 40,000 cubic yards of sand near the inlet in addition to 70,000 cubic yards of beach at another area away from the inlet.
Some 64 homes are located in Ocean Point overlooking the inlet, said Dave Kynowski, general manager of the Wild Dunes Community Association.
“They’re concerned about the quality of the beach where they are,” said Amy Armstrong, an attorney with the S.C. Environmental Law Project.
Armstrong said in a letter to federal and state regulators that the city proposal for an option to dig sand at Dewees Inlet contradicts a previous OCRM permit in 2007 that specifically prohibited hauling sand from near the inlet.
The city wants to change its permit to allow up to four erosion-control projects in which a total of up to 500,000 cubic yards of sand can be moved through March 31, 2017. Currently, two projects are permitted involving that amount of sand in total.
The overall issue is the condition of the beach on the northeastern end of the island from 53rd Avenue to near the 17th tee of The Links golf course in Wild Dunes.
Last spring, the city moved 87,000 cubic yards of sand to treat erosion hot spots in that area. That leaves the possibility of only one more erosion control project to move the remaining 413,000 cubic yards of sand allowed under the current permit. However, moving that much sand at once is not possible under the existing permit, which allows up to 250,000 cubic yards of sand to be moved in one project.
If amended to allow three more erosion control projects, the full 500,000 cubic yards of sand allowed under the current permit could be used to shore up the beach.
“It was basically requesting a little more flexibility,” said City Administrator Linda Tucker.
The city can only move sand at certain times of year because of environmental rules. Ever-shifting, unpredicatable offshore shoals complicate the picture because they can accelerate erosion.
“It’s kind of a delicate balance,” she said.
There are no immediate plans to begin another erosion project this spring, she said.