Local comprehensive beachfront management plans are detailed planning documents developed by local governments for communities that border the Atlantic Ocean. These plans outline the long-range management strategies employed to protect, preserve, restore, and enhance the beach and dune systems in their communities. These plans are designed to complement and assist the state in implementing state beach policies.
What authorizes the state to require a Local Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan? (top)
The state's 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 law is implemented through a variety of mechanisms at the state and local levels, including through the local comprehensive beach management plans. The Act includes a specific directive for the state to "involve local governments in long-range planning and management of the beach and dune system in which they have a vested interest." The Act established a requirement in §48-39-350 that beachfront counties and municipalities prepare local comprehensive beach management plans in coordination with DHEC-OCRM, and identified minimum criteria that each plan must meet for approval.
What areas of the beachfront are subject to management under a Local Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan? (top)
A local comprehensive beachfront management plan specifically addresses the area of the local community defined as the beach and dune system. Although aspects of the plan may discuss activities associated with upland areas, the management strategies outline in the plan should address the impacts that these activities have on the beach and dune system.
The beach and dune system is defined as all land from the mean high-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean landward to the DHEC-OCRM jurisdictional setback line. Setback lines are lines that are established along the beachfront shoreline to distinguish an area of state jurisdiction. The procedures for establishing setback lines are set forth in state statute, and are dependent on the beach classification zone and best historical and scientific information.
Specific procedures for establishing jurisdictional lines are detailed in the state Beachfront Management Act (S.C. Code Ann. § 48-39-280). State beachfront jurisdictional line maps for local communities are available for review at DHEC-OCRM offices or by downloading individual maps via the Website.
How detailed does a Local Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan have to be? (top)
In accordance with state statute (§48-39-350), local comprehensive beach management plans are required to address specific elements pertaining to beach access and parking, beachfront buildings and structures, erosion control devices, erosion rates, drainage structures and plans, endangered species, land use and post-hurricane preparedness.
DHEC-OCRM has prepared a suggested format for all local comprehensive beach management plans that ensures consistency and uniformity in their layout. However, each local plan may be unique in their beach management issues and enforceable policies.
More details on suggested format and specific required elements can be found in the document entitled Interim Guidance for the Development of Local Comprehensive Beach Management Plans.
Who is responsible for implementing the Local Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan? (top)
DHEC-OCRM delegates the implementation of the state-approved local comprehensive beachfront management plan to the local government. However, DHEC-OCRM has the right to assume responsibility for administering and enforcing the local plan if that local government fails to do so.
What are the benefits of an approved plan? (top)
Local comprehensive beach management plans are an important and effective management tool for local governments. They encourage long-range planning for the protection, preservation, restoration and enhancement of the community's beach and dune system. The plans serve to inform state and federal agencies on local policies, regulations, and procedures related to beachfront management. They are also an important resource for the community's citizens by providing details on beachfront emergency response and damage assessment program(s), and public access locations and amenities.
In addition, if a local government wishes to be eligible for state beach funding programs including renourishment funding opportunities, it must adopt and enforce a local comprehensive beachfront management plan.
Which beachfront communities currently have an approved Local Comprehensive Beachfront Management Plan and where can I get a copy? (top)
The following beachfront counties and municipalities have state-approved plans:
Where electronic copies are available, plans may be downloaded via the DHEC-OCRM Website. Hard copies of other plans are available from DHEC-OCRM by request. In addition, individual local government offices may be contacted to determine availability of their local plans.
What happens if a beachfront community does not have an approved Plan? (top)
If a community fails to establish, pass or enforce a plan, DHEC-OCRM is directed through state statute to impose and implement the state's comprehensive beachfront management plan for the community. Further, if a local community fails to establish a local plan, the community automatically losses its eligibility to receive any available state revenues designated for the protection, preservation, restoration or enhancement of the beach and dune system.
How often are plans updated? (top)
Local governments must review and update their plans at least every five years in coordination with DHEC-OCRM. The updated revisions must be submitted for state approval
What type of technical assistance is available to beachfront communities for development or update of a plan? (top)
In an effort to assist local governments with this planning process, DHEC-OCRM has developed a guidance document that provides background information, and details procedural requirements for approval. In addition, DHEC-OCRM will appoint a planning staff member to serve as a community liaison to provide technical assistance in the development and revision of the plan and ensure the process is not unduly burdensome.
What is the process for approving a new or updated plan? (top)
The review and approval procedure for a local comprehensive beach management plan includes a series of individual steps designed to ensure that the minimum requirements established by state statute have been met. A general overview of the steps involved in the process is outlined below.
More details on the approval process can be found in the document entitled Interim Guidance for the Development of Local Comprehensive Beach Management Plans.
Who do I contact for more information? (top)
For more information on local comprehensive beach management planning or technical assistance with this process, please contact DHEC-OCRM's Policy and Planning Division at (843) 953-0200.