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Sullivan’s Island seeks attorney’s opinion on Maritime Forest settlement

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 12:01 PM EDT
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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Sullivan’s Island Town Council has decided to get an opinion from a Greenville attorney about the legal path forward in their Maritime Forest settlement.

The town has decided to hire Attorney William Wilkens of Greenville, SC following a special meeting just over a year after the original settlement was approved.

According to Wilkens’ website, “Billy leads a team of appellate attorneys who concentrate their practice on defending or seeking reversal of lower court decisions.”

Sullivan’s Island for All President Karen Byko says the organization is “cautiously optimistic” after Tuesday’s meeting. She says, “What we want is for them to hire this attorney very quickly to get through the um analysis of whether, um, there is a legal path forward, which as I’ve said, we already determined there is, and to file the judicial review so that we can avoid cutting the Maritime Forest.”

Byko says she thinks the path forward is clear because Sullivan’s Island for All has already gotten an opinion from Land-Use and Environmental Lawyer Ross Appel. Appel researched the issue and determined that Town Council has two legal paths forward. In a news release about Appel’s research, the organizations says:

Town Council has two clear legal mechanisms available to challenge the settlement and the court order approving the settlement.

  1. The Declaratory Judgement Act: This Act expressly exists for parties to an agreement to be able to determine their rights and responsibilities without first having to default under a contract.
  2. Rule 60 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure: This rule provides several options for seeking relief from an approved court order.

Byko says that during Tuesday’s meeting, council members brought up that it was a waste of town resources to bring in an attorney. “What is more a waste of resources,” Bykos says, “is for the town to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to be able to remove thousands of trees and other vegetation.”

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