County loses round in Pinckney Point development fight

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County loses round in Pinckney Point development fight

By RENEE DUDLEY rdudley@islandpacket.com 843-706-8138
Published Thursday, December 3, 2009   |  366 Words  |  news

The S.C. Administrative Law Court has ruled that Beaufort County has no standing to object to a state agency's decision to approve docks and boat lifts at the proposed Pinckney Point development in greater Bluffton, county administrator Gary Kubic said Thursday.
Kubic said he plans to recommend to the Beaufort County Council that the county appeal that decision, which came last month.
A clerk from the Administrative Law Court could not be reached Thursday to obtain details of the ruling.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control approved plans in July 2008 by Florida-based developer Pinckney Point LLC to build three community docks, 30 boat lifts and a boat ramp on the peninsula between the Okatie and Colleton rivers.
A month later, 20 appeals were filed with DHEC seeking to reverse that decision. Among those filing appeals were the developer, Beaufort County and the town of Bluffton.
The agency's governing board refused to hear the appeals and instructed opponents to re-file them with the Administrative Law Court in Columbia. The developer and Beaufort County re-filed.
The developer wants to build the project as initially requested, with seven community docks and 70 boat lifts. State officials demanded the original project be scaled back to comply with clean-water regulations. In the developer's appeal, filed by the McNair Law Firm, the court was asked to reverse DHEC's decision.
Beaufort County objected to the state's approval of the entire project.
In its appeal, the county likened the docks to a marina because of their size, location and the potential damage they could cause the rivers. It argued the state violated water-quality regulations by not considering alternatives to constructing the docks and boat lifts.
The county also objects to the permit because it allows multiple docks on a single parcel.
Pinckney Point LLC intends to build 76 homes on about 230 acres. So far, the property has not been subdivided, and no application has been filed with the county to do so.
The outcome of the case is being watched by residents and environmental groups because of the scale of the proposed development and the sensitivity of the waters surrounding it.