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Pawleys Island: Town supports south end groin plan

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The town of Pawleys Island is supporting Georgetown County’s plans to build a 205-foot-long rock groin on the south end of the island. The goal of the project is to protect the county-owned parking lot from erosion.

A resolution adopted by Town Council this week cites the erosion damage and dangerous currents caused by the movement of Pawleys Inlet as justification for the project.

Mayor Bill Otis said a “terminal groin” at the south end was recommended as part of a state-funded beach nourishment project in the 1990s. The Corps of Engineers, which has proposed placing offshore sand on the island’s narrow south end, has also recommended a new groin, he said.

Changes in Pawleys Inlet south of the parking area caused the water flowing from Pawleys Creek to run north along the beach, Otis said. That created dangerous conditions for swimmers, according to the town’s resolution.

The county applied last month for state and federal permits to build the groin. The state Beachfront Management Act allows new groins as a way to protect public parks that are threatened by erosion.

The Corps of Engineers and state Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management are taking comments on the project until Monday.

There have already been 32 requests for a public hearing, said Dan Burger, spokesman for Coastal Resources.

“We will be scheduling a hearing within the next few weeks,” Burger said.

Plans call for the new groin to be built at the end of the parking area, about 260 feet south of an existing groin.

There are 23 groins on the island. They are designed to trap sand that moves in the current parallel to the beach.

The county will have to show that trapping sand at the new groin won’t deprive neighboring beaches of sand. The county will also have to show there is an on-going beach renourishment program for the south end.

The $8.98 million renourishment plan for the south end approved by the Corps of Engineers in 2006 is still awaiting funding by Congress.

Otis said U.S. Rep. Henry Brown and Sen. Lindsay Graham have held out hope for funding this year.

Town Council last month considered funding the project through a special tax district in order to use state funds that will expire if federal funds aren’t available.

Council members this week ruled out a local project, estimated to cost beachfront property owners on the south end at least $2,000 a year for 20 years.

“Our property owners would not feel, in this economy, that the money the state is going to contribute is significant enough,” Council Member Mike Adams said.

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