Sullivan’s Island leaders meet to discuss maritime forest

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:24 AM EDT
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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The debate over whether to cut down a forest on a Lowcountry barrier island may be about to take another turn.

The Sullivan’s Island Town Council is set to discuss the island’s hotly debated Maritime Forest at a special meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Advocates for the the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest’s preservation say the meeting is a major development regarding efforts to save the forest from destruction.

The debate originally stems from a lawsuit filed a few years ago by a group of oceanfront owners asking for more maintenance for the maritime forest. They claimed the maritime forest breeds pests, is a fire hazard and obstructs their views.

Back in October 2020, the town council vote 4-3 to cut down the vegetation between Station 16 and Station 28.5, while additionally, it would allow the removal of all trees in the forest under a certain size.

Members of the community fought back, and forest advocate group Sullivan’s Island for All says the island voted three new council members into town council in their May elections. They say the Maritime Forest provides protection from hurricanes and storm surge, and they want to preserve it.

Town council is calling Wednesday night’s meeting a “Special Meeting to act on a ‘Public Request for Clarification of Mediated Settlement Bluestein v. Town of Sullivan’s Island 2010-CP-10-5449.’”

Sullivan’s Island for All President Karen Byko says the public deserves to know whether the settlement agreement was lawfully entered, whether the settlement unlawfully binds future Town Council’s legislative powers, and whether there is a legal path forward for Town Council.

The meeting will be held at Sullivan’s Island Town Hall located at 2056 Middle Street.

“We want Town Council to know that we respect their courage and resolve to see this vital issue through,” Byko said.

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