A barge operator who makes twice-weekly runs to Daufuskie Island is challenging the construction of a boat lift at Broad Creek Marina, claiming it could hinder dock access and create a navigational hazard.
Tom Taylor, the attorney for J&W Corp.,owned by Wick Scurry, wants the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to overturn a permit issued in June by the S.C. Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
"They cannot impede use of the creek for a commercial barge," Taylor said Thursday. "In our opinion, it definitely makes it dangerous for us to maneuver in and out."
Roger Freedman, who owns the Hilton Head Island marina, disagrees.
For one thing, he said, the lift is only a few feet wider than boats that tie-up at the marina's docks during boating season.
"If he can't get in there safely, then he is endangering boaters and boats," said Freedman, noting the barge's loading area is several hundred feet from the lift location.
The lift, at the end of a 450-foot long concrete pier, already is under construction and would be 42 feet long and 14 feet wide. Freedman says the lift will let his company launch larger boats and accommodate a lighter vehicle to move them to and from the water, potentially extending the pier's lifespan.
J&W Corp. is about 23 years into a 99-year lease at the marina, which is in a short tidal creek that connects with Broad Creek. The marina also is home to J&W's ferry service to Daufuskie.
The company runs its 120-foot-by-45-foot barge to the island twice a week, carrying everything from food and water to new appliances and heavy equipment.
Taylor says the entrance to the marina is already a tight squeeze in an area with strong tidal forces that can push the barge one way or another.
"This is one of the only large landing pads for a barge of this type anywhere around here," Taylor said. "You could put a boat lift like this anywhere else, but you can't ... for this barge."
For the same reasons, J&W also is opposed to a planned expansion of a kayak-rental business on the other side of the tidal creek.
A DHEC board was expected to discuss whether to hear an appeal of the boat-lift permit on Thursday. An answer is expected sometime next week.
If the board refuses to revisit the permit, Taylor said he will appeal the matter to the S.C. Administrative Law Court.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.