Skip to content

Why does DHEC establish beachfront jurisdictional lines?

Important Dates

South Carolina Code of Laws §48-39-280, as amended, requires the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to establish and periodically review the position of the two lines of beachfront jurisdiction (the baseline and the setback line) once every seven to ten years. The average annual erosion rate for all oceanfront land that is developed or potentially could be developed is also reviewed during this timeframe. DHEC utilizes the best available scientific and historical data in the implementation of this process.

The purpose of the jurisdictional lines is to implement laws and regulations that support the state's beachfront management goals and to guide development away from unstable beachfront shorelines. According to statute, the jurisdictional baseline position established through the current process must not be moved seaward from its position on December 31, 2017.

Proposed Jurisdictional Lines and 30-day Public Comment Period

A 30-day public comment period commenced on October 6, 2017 and will close on November 6, 2017. During this time, the general public is invited to view the proposed jurisdictional lines and accompanying Line Reports, which describe how the proposed line positions were established on each beach. This information is available for review through the S.C. Beachfront Jurisdiction Viewer web application and by appointment in DHEC-OCRM offices in Beaufort, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Public comments may be submitted to DHEC through a link provided in the viewing application or in writing to DHEC-OCRM, Attn: Barbara Neale, 1362 McMillan Avenue, Suite 400, Charleston, SC 29405.

DHEC will also host a series of regional public hearings in Beaufort, Charleston and Myrtle Beach for the general public to review the proposed beachfront jurisdictional lines and provide comment.

Current state beachfront jurisdictional lines will remain in effect until revised lines are established and adopted in final form.

What are beachfront jurisdictional lines and how are they set?

The baseline is the more seaward of the two jurisdictional lines. Seaward of the baseline, permitted activities are limited to wooden walkways, small wooden decks, fishing piers, golf courses, normal landscaping, groins, activities authorized by emergency orders, beach renourishment projects, and structures authorized by a special permit.

The setback line is the landward line of beachfront jurisdiction. Between the baseline and setback line, DHEC exercises regulatory permitting authority for such activities as habitable structures and associated infrastructure, decks, gazebos, other public access structures, and sand dune management. Seaward of the setback line, construction of new shore-parallel erosion control structures (i.e. seawalls, revetments or bulkheads) is prohibited. However, existing erosion control structures may be maintained or repaired with prior authorization by DHEC.

To review and revise the location of the baseline and setback line, DHEC utilizes the best available scientific and historical data including Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), elevation measurements collected with a survey-grade GPS unit, vegetation measurements collected with a mapping GPS unit, current and historical aerial photographs that depict shoreline location, and previously completed shoreline change analysis data and reports.


Proposed Jurisdictional Line Reports