Charleston County threatens legal action against Isle of Palms over beach, rental restrictions

Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 12:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In a letter to the mayor of the Isle of Palms, Charleston County Council is threatening the possibility of legal action if Isle of Palms does not reopen beach access.

Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey sent the letter, dated Monday, to Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll.

Summey referenced a Friday vote by the city of Isle of Palms to continue restricting access to the beach only to IOP residents from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., preventing county residents from accessing county parks and prohibiting short-term rentals on the island through May 12.

That vote, Summey says, “directly contradicts” Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive orders that recinded the prohibition on access to public beach access, rescinded the prohibition on short-term and vacation rentals and lifted the Home or Work order and allowed outdoor dining at restaurants who follow specific conditions.

“We believe that your conduct in adopting this ordinance is in conflict with the orders and is, in fact, preempted by the orders,” Summey wrote. “Further, the decisions made by the city will likely have a negative impact on the economy, genera welfare and civil liberties of the residents of the county; and therefore, the ordinance you adopted on May 2 exceeds your municipal emergency ordinance authority.”

Summey said he writes, on behalf of the county, to urge Isle of Palms to rescind that vote, “and allow all residents to enjoy the use of the beaches, parks, waterways, dining/retail establishments on the island, as well as lifting the ban on short-term rentals.”

“If the city is unwilling to reverse course, Charleston County will be forced to take legal action against the city in an effort to lift these restrictions,” Summey wrote. He also wants Folly Beach and Sullivans Island to remove its checkpoints.

Before the council meeting on Monday, Carroll said he agrees that the checkpoint should be lifted.

“If someone from another state can afford to rent a house they get to come to the beach, but if someone lives in Mt. Pleasant or North Charleston and isn’t renting a house, they can’t come to the beach. There’s no fairness in that," he added.

The council meets at 5 p.m. on Monday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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