Supreme Court puts brakes on Captain Sam’s Spit development

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of environmentalists who want to stop development of Capt. Sam’s Spit.

The state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of environmentalists who oppose a developer’s plan for residential construction on Captain Sam’s Spit.

However, both sides said the fight over the future of 150 acres of dunes on the western edge of Kiawah Island is not over.

“This is one more step in what has been a long legal process,” said Bill Hindman, spokesman for Kiawah Partners.

“We will continue to pursue our legal rights to develop Captain Sam’s in the environmentally sensitive way we have developed the rest of Kiawah,” he said in an emailed statement.

Kiawah Partners received a state permit that allowed work to proceed on a 26-lot development on the spit. The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League appealed that decision which stopped the work. However, an administrative law judge decided the project could move forward while the case was heard. That ruling prompted the conservationists’ appeal to the Supreme Court.

“It is not over,” said Dana Beach, conservation league executive director.

“Now we have to argue the merits of the case. So we’ve got some years left, in all likelihood,” he said.

The battle over development on the spit has now been waged for more than six years.

Hindman said only a small portion of the land will be developed. Most of the acreage will be protected in a conservation easement, he said.

The spit is prized for conservation and recreation because 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.

For Kiawah Partners, the spit is one of few remaining undeveloped beachfront properties left on the largely gated resort island.

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