DHEC could make changes in beachfront property owner building options

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For all residents who live on the beach along the South Carolina coast, changes are coming with respect to where you're allowed to build on your property.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control is tweaking the position of two lines of beachfront jurisdiction that determine your building options.

The baseline is the more seaward of the two jurisdictional lines. Seaward of the baseline, permitted activities are limited to wooden walkways, small wooden decks, fishing piers, golf courses, normal landscaping, groins, activities authorized by emergency orders, beach renourishment projects, and structures authorized by a special permit.

The setback line is the landward line of beachfront jurisdiction.

Between the baseline and setback line, DHEC exercises regulatory permitting authority for such activities as habitable structures and associated infrastructure, decks, gazebos, other public access structures, and sand dune management. Seaward of the setback line, construction of new shore-parallel erosion control structures (i.e. seawalls, revetments or bulkheads) is prohibited.

However, existing erosion control structures may be maintained or repaired with prior authorization by DHEC.

DHEC officials say if your property lies on or beyond those lines, you can apply for a permit through DHEC to make adjustments.

The South Carolina Code of Laws §48-39-280, as amended, requires DHEC's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to establish and periodically review the position of the baseline and the setback line once every seven to 10 years. The average annual erosion rate for all oceanfront land that is developed or potentially could be developed is also reviewed during this timeframe. DHEC uses scientific and historical data to come up with their recommendations.

The purpose of the jurisdictional lines is to implement laws and regulations that support the state's beachfront management goals and to guide development away from unstable beachfront shorelines.

Though the process has been going on for decades, there is something different this time around. According to statute, the jurisdictional baseline position established through the current process must not be moved seaward from its position on Dec. 31, 2017, meaning the baseline and setback line cannot be moved toward the ocean after this year: they are set.

A 30-day public comment period began Oct. 6 and will close Nov. 6. During this time, the general public is invited to view the proposed jurisdictional lines and accompanying Line Reports, which describe how the proposed line positions were established on each beach.

Click here to see the proposed line positions, maps and proposed changes.Public comments may be submitted to DHEC through a link provided in the viewing application or in writing to DHEC-OCRM, Attn: Barbara Neale, 1362 McMillan Avenue, Suite 400, Charleston, SC 29405.

DHEC will also host a series of regional public hearings in Beaufort, Charleston and Myrtle Beach for the general public to review the proposed beachfront jurisdictional lines and provide comment.

Current state beachfront jurisdictional lines will remain in effect until revised lines are established and adopted in final form.


  • Oct. 6: Publication of proposed state beachfront jurisdictional line revisions; Notification of 30-day public comment period.
  • Oct. 23: Public Hearings, Beaufort Region - Click here for info.
  • Oct. 24: Public Hearings, Charleston Region - Click here for info.
  • Oct. 25: Public Hearings, Grand Strand Region - Click here for info.
  • Nov. 6: Close of 30-day public comment period
  • Dec. 8: Notification of State Adoption of Revised Beachfront Jurisdictional Lines
  • Dec. 27: Implementation of revised state beachfront jurisdictional lines

Click here for more information on how the agency establishes the Baseline and setback lines.

Anyone with questions about the lines can call DHEC's Ocean and Coastal Resource Management Charleston office at 843-953-0200.

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