July 25, 2008

State Refuses to Hear Pinckney Point Dock Appeals

By Liz Mitchell, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Jul. 25--The governing board of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control won't hear appeals that ask the state to review plans for the docks and boat lifts it approved for the proposed Pinckney Point development.

State approval of the plans, granted earlier this month, allows Florida-based developer Pinckney Point LLC to build three community docks, 30 boat lifts and a boat ramp with a boarding dock on a peninsula between the Okatie and Colleton rivers in greater Bluffton.

That approval stands after the board decided Thursday to hear none of the 20 appeals filed in opposition.

Those who filed the appeals now have 30 days to refile them with an Administrative Law Court, a state official said.

DHEC was tight-lipped beyond that.

"We cannot comment on cases that might be or are under appeal or in litigation," said DHEC spokeswoman Clair Boatwright.

DHEC declined to say why its refused to hear the appeals or if it regularly denies hearing appeals.

The Town of Bluffton, Beaufort County Council, residents and environmentalists appealed the state's approval of the docks and boat lifts. They oppose the project as a whole and say they want to protect water quality and the rural character of Pinckney Point.

The developer also filed an appeal.

It wants to build the project as initially requested with seven community docks and 70 boat lifts. State officials demanded the project be scaled back to comply with clean water regulations.

The developer could have requested 78 single -- rather than community -- docks and 178 boat lifts. Instead, the developer worked with state officials for more than a year on a plan to provide community access to the rivers. That resulted in fewer docks and lifts, according to the appeal filed by the McNair Law Firm, which is representing Pinckney Point LLC.

In its appeal, the developer termed the permit "confusing, ambiguous and (said it) has undercut the (developer's) desire, incentive and economic ability to reduce dock proliferation at Pinckney Point."

Pinckney Point LLC intends to build 76 homes on the peninsula, but the property has not been subdivided and there is no pending application to do so on file with Beaufort County.


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