Charles Swenson / Coastal Observer

SC - Judge Rules for Homeowners in Suits Over Beach Easements

A Circuit Court judge has granted a motion by three oceanfront property owners seeking to quash an effort by the town of Pawleys Island to condemn easements for beach renourishment.

Last week’s ruling by Judge Michael Nettles did not specify the grounds for his ruling on the motion for summary judgment. A formal order will follow. A notice of the decision notes that the ruling does not end the case.

Until the order is filed, it is unclear how the case will proceed, attorneys said.

The property owners filed suit in July to block the condemnation, saying the easements are no longer necessary because the town has already completed a $14.8 million renourishment project earlier in the year. They also said the easements would allow the public to access the beach across their property.

The town wants the easements in order to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to participate in the renourishment project along 1.4 miles of beach on the south end of Pawleys Island. That will allow the Corps to repair storm damage along that portion of the beach and pay half the cost of future renourishment projects for the next 45 years.

The town obtained easements from 110 of the 113 property owners in the area eligible for federal participation. It delayed planting beach grass along the southern portion of the renourishment area so that the Corps could do the work. Town Council voted in May to start condemnation proceedings to obtain the last three easements.

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