Judge delays wall at Capt. Sam’s Spit

Kiawah Partners plans to build 50 homes in the growth-covered high ground of Capt. Sam’s Spit, seen beyond a newly cut channel to protect adjacent Seabrook Island from erosion.

KIAWAH ISLAND — Construction won’t start on a bulkhead wall to protect a road to a controversial development on Capt. Sam’s Spit.

An administrative law court judge has granted a stay on his own ruling that the wall could go ahead. The stay was based on previous state Supreme Court rulings that overrode his earlier rulings.

“These arguments have generally been made to the South Carolina Supreme Court several times in this case, and each time, the Supreme Court has rejected these arguments,” said Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson III. “The Supreme Court has stated its position that any finding in favor of any construction at the location at issue warrants a stay while the case is pending on appeal.”

The spit is a wildlife-rich, 150-acre teardrop of exposed dunes on Kiawah Island’s western edge. Like other inlet areas, Capt. Sam’s is continually reshaped by waves and wind. Currently, it is eroding along the riverbank where the road is planned, while the beach is gaining sand. The wall would be built along the riverbank across the narrow neck of the spit.

Kiawah Partner, the developer, has announced plans to build 50 homes on high ground on the spit. Company representatives have said building would take place in an environmentally sensitive manner along only 20 acres, and 85 percent of the spit is slated to be put under conservation easement.

Conservation interests say the spit is too fragile to be built on. Its cape beach is a feeding ground that, at times, draws seabirds by the thousands. Its inlet beaches are part of a rare strand-feeding ground where dolphins drive schools of baitfish onto the beach and jump up after them to feed.

The legal battle has been underway for more than seven years.

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