Critical Area Permitting - Overview

Critical Area Permitting (Docks, Bulkheads, etc.)

The critical area is defined as coastal waters, tidelands, beaches and beach/dune system. DHEC has direct permitting authority over the critical areas pursuant to statutory provisions in S.C. Code Ann. § 48-39-10, et. seq., and the DHEC's Critical Area Regulations, S.C. Code Reg. §30-1 et. seq. Any person wishing to alter a critical area must receive a permit from the Department. These alterations can include building docks, bulkheads, boat ramps or other activities such as filling or dredging.

The critical area permit application outlines the minimum requirements needed for the DHEC to consider a permit request. An administrative fee ranging from $25 to $1000 is required as a part of the permitting process. Once the applications are administratively complete, they are placed on public notice for 10, 15, or 30 days, depending on the activity. The regulatory time frames allow other agencies and members of the public to review and comment on the project. Please see the list of forms below for the appropriate permit application.

Notice of Change to Public Notice Procedure (12/14/2012)

For Projects with federally defined non-jurisdictional wetland impacts:

DHEC coastal zone consistency staff reviews for impacts to federally defined non-jurisdictional wetland impacts associated with state permits. DHEC wetland staff will continue to review projects requiring a ACOE 404 permit involving impacts to federally defined jurisdictional wetland impacts. Please see the following link for submittal requirements and staff contacts for projects involving impacts to federally defined non-jurisdictional wetland impacts.

Critical Area Permit Application Procedure - Administrative Completeness (pdf) (08/22/08)

Questions? Contact DHEC-OCRM or check the Frequently Asked Questions for Critical Area Permitting .


Public Notice Submittals - Deadlines, Rules

The following public notice submittal deadlines apply to all State and Federal permits except for joint permit applications from both DHEC-OCRM and the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE). Joint permit applications requiring a Critical Area permit and an ACOE permit will be processed as a joint public notice. The joint public notice will be coordinated to run with the ACOE's public notice if the application is administratively complete. DHEC-OCRM must receive submittals for weekly public notice associated with a coastal zone consistency determination and Critical Area permits by Monday close of business. The submittal must be deemed administratively complete in order to be considered for public notice the following Friday. Submittals received after Monday close of business are subject to being placed on public notice the following week even if the submittal is deemed administratively complete. If the permit application is not complete, staff will notify the applicant of the administrative deficiencies within 10 working days from the DHEC-OCRM receipt date.

Permit Appeal Procedure

Once DHEC-OCRM staff makes a decision regarding a permit application, an adversely affected party may request a final review with the Board of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to challenge the permit decision. A request for final review must be made to the Clerk of the Board within 15 days after notice of the decision has been mailed to the applicant. An adversely affected party may be the applicant, an adjacent property owner, or in some cases a third party or organization.