State Comprehensive Beach Management Plan
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (DHEC-OCRM) is responsible for the management of the state’s beachfront and coastal zone. The Beachfront Management Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 48-39-250 et seq., established a requirement in section 48-39-320 that DHEC-OCRM must prepare a “long-range and comprehensive beach management plan for the Atlantic Ocean shoreline in South Carolina”. This plan, South Carolina’s Comprehensive Beach Management Plan, is particularly important for two reasons: the Plan harbors the precise building setback lines along the entire coast, and references all approved local comprehensive beach management plans. Currently, the state is reviewing and updating the State Comprehensive Beach Management Plan. Updates are planned every five years.
The state Beachfront Management Act established the statutory guidance and state policies, which directs 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. Required elements of the state plan include:
- Development of a database for the state’s coastal areas to provide essential information concerning the management of the beach/dune system;
- Development of guidelines for the accomplishment of:
- beach/dune restoration and nourishment;
- development of a beach access program;
- maintenance of a ecologically stable, dry, sandy beach;
- protection of all sand dunes seaward or setback line;
- protection of endangered and threatened species as well as critical habitats;
- regulation of vehicular traffic upon the beaches and beach/dune system;
- development of a mitigation policy for construction allowed seaward of setback line;
- Development of a mitigation policy for construction allowed seaward of the setback line;
- Development of a public education and awareness program on the importance of the beach/dune system; and
- Assistance to local governments in developing the local comprehensive beach management plans.
The State Comprehensive Beach Management Plan is currently codified as a state regulation. Any local comprehensive beach management plan that is adopted by a county or municipality and approved by DHEC-OCRM becomes part of the state plan. DHEC-OCRM considers state and local comprehensive plans when reviewing critical area permit applications to ensure that no permit shall be issued which is inconsistent with the state plan, and all permits issued are consistent with the local plans to the maximum extent practicable.