The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control denied three requests for review of plans to develop Ghost Island on August 12. Sent by Charleston-area organizations and advocates, the appeals to a pending DHEC permit asked for the small island off the coast of Maryville to be inspected before further building takes place.
The island, also called Lining Island, has been at the center of ongoing environmental and historical controversy among residents of Maryville. With conflicting histories dealing with the presence of family burial grounds, questions remain about existing conditions on the island.
In July, DHEC granted a permit allowing utility infrastructure be extended to the island from the historically black Maryville neighborhood in West Ashley. The Coastal Conservation League, the Maryville-Ashleyville Neighborhood Association and Charlie Smith filed appeals to stop drilling under marshland and other development until further investigation can be done.
“Though the direct impacts of the critical area from this drilling project do not significantly negatively affect the wetlands adjacent to mainland West Ashley and the marshes adjacent to Ghost Island,” CCL officials wrote in the group's appeal. “There is a significant risk that the project will impact significant historic and cultural resources that have not been surveyed and documented properly.”
“Not only is this a likely historic burial ground, but also an environmentally sensitive and fragile coastal island hummock,” the appeal continued. “Hummocks serve as important bird habitats as well as habitats for other wildlife. Given the special nature of this island and the unavoidable threat of sea level rise, the utmost care should be taken to avoid irreparable harm to the natural and coastal resources on the island and on the mainland.”
The process allows those who had filed appeals to submit a request a contested case hearing before Administrative Law Court. A request must be filed within 30 days notice of the review appeal's denial.
Smith, the CCL and the neighborhood association are said to be considering further action, but no decisions have been made.