Your editorial, “Stay the course of new beachfront baseline,” makes good points. However, the timing of the rules and the recent storms have caused issues that should be addressed.
The 2016 law states that the December 2017 baseline can never move seaward, which seems logical.
The problem is that the data used to establish the new baseline was gathered in December 2016, two months after Hurricane Matthew destroyed the dunes and vegetation in many areas. A once-in-100-year storm resulted in the new baseline for many properties to be moved about 50 feet landward.
The affected owners are only asking the state to delay the December 2017 date, allowing time for the beach to rebuild, before establishing the baseline for the next 1,000 years.
Setting the baseline following the storm, and never allowing any seaward adjustments, is not fair to the property owners and does not serve any overriding public good.
The setback line is established at the point 40-times the annual erosion rate from the baseline. The beach in Sea Pines has been stable or accreting since at least 1929, as shown by many public surveys and studies.
People who have been here for 30 to 40 years know firsthand how stable the beach has been, always rebuilding naturally after storms. The state’s data for erosion comes from maps as far back as 1851. The owners affected by the setback line changes only ask the state to base its conclusions on the last 60 to 70 years, not what may or may not have occurred 170 years ago.
Hilton Head Island