Charleston County threatens legal action if Folly Beach does not lift access restrictions

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Tuesday, Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey sent a letter to Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin urging him to rescind access restrictions to the island, or face legal repercussions.

Currently, non-residents can access Folly Beach before 7:00 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m., as opposed to the 24/7 checkpoints previously in place.

In the letter, Summey alleges that the city’s denial of access to non-residents is in violation of multiple Executive Orders issued by Governor McMaster. Summey goes on to say that public rights-of-way are being infringed upon, and that “the decisions made by the City will likely have a negative impact on the economy, general welfare, and civil liberties of the residents of the county.”

For the above reasons, Summey believes that the restrictions imposed by Folly Beach exceed the City’s municipal authority. He points to a clause in Governor McMaster’s Executive Orders as support for his assertion:

“To the extent that any political subdivision of this State seeks to adopt or enforce a local ordinance, rule, regulation, or other restriction that conflicts with [the Orders], [the Orders] shall supersede and preempt any sych local ordinance, rule, regulation, or other restriction.”

Additionally, Summey points to the three public parks owned and operated by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (PRC) on the island. Summey says that the PRC plans to open the parks this weekend, and goes on to say “notwithstanding [Goodwin’s] position regarding the disparate treatment of City and non-City residents, I write on behalf of the County, urging the City to rescind its action and allow all residents to enjoy the use of the public” facilities.

Finally, Summey called on the City to lift the restriction on short-term rentals, which was lifted statewide by Governor McMaster last week.

Summey concluded by saying that “if the City is unwilling to rescind its emergency ordinance amendments, Charleston County will be forced to take legal action to undo these restrictions.”

In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Governor McMaster was asked to weigh in on the ongoing battle over beach access. He said that he believed the issue was the prerogative of local municipalities, their mayors, and their lawyers.

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