Good Life

In South Carolina, eroding beaches may mean tougher building rules

South Carolina’s popular beaches need better protection from development, even if it means some oceanfront landowners pay higher insurance rates, a coastal commission says.

The study commission voted 6-5 Tuesday to expand building restrictions farther inland along parts of the S.C. oceanfront, a move that would effectively ban new seawalls in some areas where they are now allowed. The group’s recommendation also would make it harder to replace beach houses with more intense development, such as high-rise hotels, in some areas.

Tightening the rules would affect 264 additional developed lots along the state’s immediate shore. That would increase to 43 percent the number of developed lots on South Carolina beaches affected by the restrictions, records show. It also would apply to undeveloped lots.

The panel’s vote is a recommendation that would need Legislative approval.

“I’m not unsympathetic to any private property owners, but the fact is, if you choose to live in coastal areas, you automatically should know there is additional cost associated with that,” commission member Mac Burdette said. “We have to be diligent in trying to balance out the rights of the public.”

But the action by the Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Development met sharp resistance from members who represent coastal cities and real estate interests. They expressed fear that extending restrictions to more property might send insurance rates skyrocketing for people who own beachfront houses.

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