A Hilton Head Island woman's decade-long fight to block beach access beside her home might be finished.
North Forest Beach resident Carolyn Austin has 30 days to clear a path beside her home on Avocet Street, 14th Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen ruled Tuesday.
After that, Austin will be fined $100 each day the trees, shrubs and brick columns are not removed, Mullen said.
Austin has battled the Forest Beach Owners Association since 2004 over the narrow strip of property. She contends she owns the land and doesn't want it used by others.
Never miss a local story.
The association says it owns the property. Four courts have agreed.
The S.C. Supreme Court declined to hear the case last year, forcing Austin to comply with a 2009 Beaufort County court order. The order required her to remove the impediments and surrender control of the beach access to the association.
Austin said Tuesday she will comply with the order. She did not know how much it would cost to clear the path.
But she warned that cutting the vegetation will allow water to rush toward her property during a storm. She also said the strip serves as her driveway.
"There's no other place to park," said Austin, who has owned her home for more than 30 years. "This is my home. ... I won't have a marketable home with no place to park."
She argued that the existing walkway next to her property is enough for beachgoers.
But that walkway is owned by Seacrest Oceanside Villas, said Forest Beach association executive director John Snodgrass.
Austin's strip "is held in trust for the public benefit of the association," he said. "The whole purpose is to reopen beach access for all property owners in Forest Beach."
He was satisfied with Mullen's ruling.
"As far as the association is concerned, it's a done deal," he said. "Let's move forward and obey the court order."
Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.