DHEC OCRM is responsible for the management of South Carolina's beaches and the beach/dune system. Using historical and present-day shoreline and beach profile information, DHEC OCRM designates a baseline and setback line along the coast. The baseline is typically placed at the crest of the primary oceanfront sand dune (that is the dune immediately adjacent to the ocean) while the setback line is demarcated landward of the baseline. The setback line's distance from the baseline varies along the coast. It is determined by the calculated long-term annual erosion rate in that particular area. The minimum setback is 20 feet. The baseline and setback lines are revised every 7-10 years as required by the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Act. The next review cycle for baseline and setback line positions will begin in 2024.
Beachfront Notification Requirement
All construction seaward of the setback line requires an authorization or permit from DHEC OCRM. The 1990 Beachfront Management Act requires DHEC OCRM to be notified of certain activities seaward of the setback line. Such activities that require notification include new construction, additions and renovation of habitable structures as well as construction and replacement of pools that are landward of both the baseline and an existing erosion control device.
Beachfront General Permits
Other activities seaward of the setback line but landward of the baseline require a General Permit from DHEC OCRM. These activities include the installation of utilities or service lines, drainage improvements, fences, driveways, small wooden decks, landscaping, and dune management activities like planting dune vegetation, installing sand fencing, or adding beach-compatible sand from an upland source. If the project area is seaward of the baseline, General Permits are also available for small wooden decks, landscaping, dune management activities, and beach access mats under certain circumstances. The General Permit application process includes submitting a complete application form and sketch of the proposed project. The applicant is also required to notify adjoining property owners and the local government via certified mail and run a 1-day legal ad in the local newspaper, which opens a 15-day public comment period for beachfront activities. There is no application fee for beachfront General Permits.
Major Beachfront Critical Area Permits
Larger-scale projects like beach renourishment projects, inlet realignment projects, new oceanfront fishing piers, or houses seaward of the baseline require a Critical Area Permit from DHEC OCRM. For major activities, the Critical Area Permit application process includes submitting a complete application form, project narrative, professional, stamped and signed drawings, and other supporting documents. Major activities go out on DHEC OCRM’s public notice for 30 days and these projects frequently involve interagency review. The application fee for major activities is $1,000 ($250 if the applicant is a state or local government).
Dune Walkover Structures
Dune walkovers and work performed in association with them do not require a DHEC OCRM permit as long as the following regulatory requirements found in S.C. Code Ann. Regulations 30-13(O)(1) are adhered to:
a) All components of the structure must be constructed of wood or Department-approved wood-like materials;
b) Have a maximum width of six feet;
c) Conform with the contour of the dunes and maintain a two-foot vertical clearance as measured from the top of the dune to the top of the walkover;
d) Displace no sand in the critical area;
e) Be constructed with as little environmental damage as possible;
f) Not be located within fifty feet of another walkover on the same parcel of property;
g) Be limited to no more than one of these structures per lot unless a limit of one would cause an unnecessary hardship as determined by OCRM;
h) Be shore perpendicular, except as necessary for handicapped access.
Beach Survey Packets & Jurisdictional Line Maps
The South Carolina Beachfront Jurisdictional Lines Viewer was developed to enable efficient access to key information by coastal stakeholders and decision-makers. Users of the application can navigate to specific beaches or properties and view baseline and setback line positions and adopted long-term erosion rates. Users may also download beachfront survey packets , which contain jurisdictional line coordinates, adopted long-term erosion rates, and beachfront survey monument description sheets.
IMPORTANT NOTE: DWG FILES SHOULD BE USED FOR REFERENCE ONLY. PLEASE REFER TO THE SURVEYED COORDINATE PACKETS FOR ABSOLUTE POSITION.
For additional considerations, please see Frequently Asked Questions for Beachfront Property or contact DHEC OCRM.