The state Beachfront Management Act (S.C. Code Ann. § 48-39-250 et seq) establishes the statutory guidance and state policies that direct all state beachfront activities and decisions. The Act is implemented through a variety of mechanisms at the state and local levels, including through the State Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan and Local Comprehensive Beach Management Plans. The requires ocean beachfront counties and municipalities to prepare local comprehensive beach management plans in coordination with DHEC-OCRM. These plans must include a minimum of ten specific elements. Once adopted by the community, local comprehensive beach management plans are then submitted to DHEC for review and state approval.
Local comprehensive beach management plans are an important and effective management tool for local governments. These plans provide guidance to state and federal agencies on local policies, regulations, and procedures related to beachfront management. Local comprehensive beach management plans are required to be reviewed by the local government every five years. Additionally, updated revisions are required to be submitted for state approval every ten years. DHEC has prepared interim guidelines to assist communities preparing to revise their local comprehensive beach management plans while the state plan is being revised.
The Beachfront Management Act also established a jurisdictional "setback area" (bound by the baseline and setback line) along the beach in which any construction or other alterations would require a permit. DHEC-OCRM uses baselines and erosion rate-based setback lines to regulate new beachfront construction or the repair and reconstruction of buildings and erosion control structures that have been damaged following a storm. The lines are updated every 8 to 10 years using the best available scientific and historical data including aerial imagery, LiDAR data, historical shorelines, beach profile data, and long-term erosion rates. The policies and regulations within the beachfront setback area are designed to protect the beach/dune system by discouraging new construction in close proximity to the beach/dune system and by encouraging those who have erected structures too close to the system to retreat from it.