BeBordieuSeawall (copy)

The seawall on DeBordieu beach protects houses that jut far out toward the ocean and prevents the public from walking along the beach at high tide. Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed a bill to allow the seawall to be rebuilt. Provided by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Today’s public policy issues are debated with simplistic sound bites designed to enrage people instead of engaging them in meaningful dialogue, often omitting or downplaying messy details that amplify and clarify.

Two recent examples come to mind.

On May 8, Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks wrote a piece titled, “Who would open a nature preserve to hunting?” The upshot of the column was that state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of the state’s property, namely North and South Island, collectively referred to as “Yawkey.”

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources had recently proposed a regulation that would have closed the public beaches and public navigable waterways around the nature preserve to the public, who would be banned from the simple pleasure of beach walking and could have been ticketed for trespassing.

Sen. Goldfinch, in an effort to stop the regulation, simply and correctly introduced a proviso that stopped DNR from enforcing the provisions within the sanctuary agreement and yes, hunting, fishing and trespassing were all referenced in the regulation and in the proviso that stopped the regulation.

Eventually, the proviso found its intended mark, and DNR backed off the offensive regulation. It was a win for the public and its access to public property. But writer of the column saw it differently by chastising the senator, implying that his intentions were less than pure, and intimating that the public had no right to the area anyway … because it’s a pristine place.

Fast-forward to May 22 and The Post and Courier editorial staff wrote an editorial titled, “The fight is not over for public beaches.” A quote from the editorial correctly states, “The beaches belong to all South Carolinians.”

Is that really the case, or do the beaches only belong to everyone when it fits special interest agendas?

DeBordieu Colony’s sea wall in Georgetown County was permitted, legally built and funded with private money over three decades ago. Since then, DeBordieu has spent millions of dollars in private money to sustain the beach. Not one dime of public money has ever been used on the beach of DeBordieu, even though it’s owned by the state of South Carolina.

And now, some politicians, The Post and Courier editorial staff and so-called environmentalists are telling the same people who have maintained that public beach that they must not protect their private property and must watch as their homes fall into the ocean.

What could be more callous and environmentally insensitive? I wonder if these same people lobbying for hundreds of tons of trash to fall into the ocean will be lobbying for public dollars to clean it up and reimburse these homeowners for the state essentially taking their property when that time comes.

And to Georgetown County, beware as almost 14% of your residential property taxes come from homes in DeBordieu, which among other things are used to pay for first responders and our schools. If some special interests get their way, you’ll be watching those tax receipts falling into the ocean along with those homes, and higher taxes will be falling on all other property owners in the county.

Wilson Lowery was chairman of IBM global financing and vice president of organizational restructuring. He is the founder and senior executive of WLLP Capital, a financial management and re-engineering consulting firm. He lives in DeBordieu Colony in Georgetown County.

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