Residents suing Sullivan's Island over missing beach views

By Tracey Amick  bio | email

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Residents of one Lowcountry island town are having a few problems with their beach front view -- namely, the view isn't there.

Trees and brush are blocking the view of the beach, the ocean breeze and are stirring up problems with pests, so residents in Sullivan's Island are suing the town.

"At the end of the day, it takes away their right to take care of the land in front of them like it was agreed upon," said attorney Jamie Hood.

Hood is representing Nathan and Ettaleah Bluestein and Theodore and Karen Albenesius in the lawsuit.

In 1991, the land adjacent to both homeowners' properties was deeded to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust as a way to protect and preserve it. Hood says the ordinance in place at the time allowed trimming all vegetation to 3 feet, but over the years that's changed.

"The town is permitting trimming only down to 5 feet and has eliminated the ability to trim certain trees," said Hood. He claims that change was not made properly.

"The contracts had a provision where it could be modified if 75 percent of the registered homeowners voted in favor and 100 percent of town council approves it," said Hood.

He says so far there's been no referendum or town council vote.

Resident Larry Middaugh disagrees with any level of trimming and claims the land actually has to be maintained in it's natural state.

"That land is in land trust to preserve its natural vegetative quality," said Middaugh.

The plaintiffs claim the overgrowth not only obstructs their view but actually blocks their access onto the beach. Not to mention the snakes the rats and other pests it brings right onto their property.

So the question now is do these homeowners have the right to prune the property adjacent to theirs as they could in 1991 or can the town legally expand the prohibition of  trimming bushes and trees?

"Of course its a legal thing so yes it will be up to the courts," said Middaugh.

The town has 30 days to respond to the suit.The issue will be discussed in executive session Tuesday night at the town council meeting.

That meeting starts at 6 p.m.

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