Led by the state's former chief judge, North Myrtle Beach property owners asked legislators Thursday to let them dredge man-made canals at Cherry Grove to improve their property values on the salt marsh in Horry County.
But environmentalists said a bill to allow more dredging at Cherry Grove would make it easier to excavate fragile salt marshes across the state's coastline. They urged a House agriculture subcommittee not to approve the bill because of the expected precedent the legislation would set.
The subcommittee ended the meeting without voting on the bill this morning. The bill would apply to canals dug before 1970.
Property owners say they need help. David Harwell, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, said canals dug decades ago are silting in and need to be dredged. Harwell said he owns a house on a canal and other lots in the area.
"All we want to do is move forward as rapidly as we can,'' Harwell said. He said the canals are "really just mudholes there that cannot help the city, cannot help the landowners and it cannot help the consuming public.''