The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control today gave permission to property owners in the exclusive Debordieu coastal community to build structures to slow erosion and protect their homes from the ocean.
But the board’s decision, made after a closed-door session, will be appealed.
Environmentalists and the Baruch Foundation argue that the sand-trapping devices, known as groins, will hurt an ecologically important research area down the beach.
Beach erosion is a major worry for many property owners at Debordieu, a resort community between Pawleys Island and Georgetown that includes more than 1,000 homes, many valued at millions of dollars.
Not more than two miles from Debordieu is North Inlet, one of the nation’s cleanest tidal estuaries and a centerpiece of the University of South Carolina’s Baruch Marine Field Laboratory. North Inlet is so unspoiled that scientists say it is vital to the study of marine life in a pollution-free environment.