State says Sea Trawler restaurant can build Mackays Creek dock, despite local objections

August 12, 2009 

The owners of the new Sea Trawler Restaurant in Buckingham Landing can build a larger dock into Mackays Creek, despite opposition from nearby residents and Beaufort County government.

That's the decision of the state's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

But it appears the fight is not over. County administrator Gary Kubic said the county will appeal the dock permit's approval.

The state agency, an arm of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, held a public hearing last month to discuss restaurant owner Wilbert Roller Jr.'s request to increase the size of the pier, add a roof, increase the size of the floating dock and add a 14-foot-by-16-foot boat lift.

When the county learned of those proposed changes, Beaufort County Council Chairman Weston Newton sent a letter to DHEC on May 29 detailing 11 objections to Roller's request. Among them, Newton cited concerns the larger dock would impede navigation and pose safety hazards.

OCRM spokesman Dan Burger on Wednesday referred questions about the permit approval to project manager Kathleen Lamaker, who could not be reached for comment.

"I believe we issued (the permit) as requested as it met our regulatory requirements," Burger said in an e-mail.

Roller's wife, Jenny, said the state would not have issued the permit if navigation would be a problem. She said they wanted the dock extension to "make it nicer for the people coming to the restaurant."

Roller said he is pleased with the approval and plans to begin construction next week.

He said he has no problem with the county appealing the state decision.

"They have to do what they have to do, and I got to do what I got to do," he said.

Roller and the county have been involved in a series of legal disputes related to the Buckingham Landing property since the early 1990s. Roller's family bought the property about 40 years ago. He first announced plans for the restaurant in 1987.

Earlier this year, a court settlement with the county allowed Roller to build on the property as permitted, as long as the restaurant and traffic it attracts don't interfere with public use of the county-owned boat landing.

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