2015 News for Pawleys Island, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet
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Pawleys Island: North end jetty not on list of town projects

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The town of Pawleys Island won’t try to repair a jetty along Midway Creek on the island’s north end. But it still has nearly $13 million in other capital projects and over $500,000 in repairs and maintenance on its to-do list.

The jetty was built in the 1950s by the state to stabilize the south side of the inlet. It was last repaired in 1995 when the town got state permission to dump construction debris behind the crumbling structure. Since then, neither the town, the state nor any other entity has claimed responsibility for the jetty.

Town Council has discussed whether it is time to change that, but decided to maintain its distance. “You fix it, you’ve bought it,” Mayor Bill Otis said.

Council Member Glennie Tarbox, whose home on the north end is close to the jetty, said there seems to be no imminent risk of the structure failing. He believes it could be shored up with additional rock, but agreed with other council members to delay action, “at least temporarily.”

The town will move forward with obtaining state permits to make repairs to the 23 rock and timber groins on the beachfront. The cost is estimated at $250,000.

The list of capital and maintenance projects are part of an update to the town’s comprehensive plan that was adopted by the Planning Commission last week.

The town started a $4.2 million project this year to move electric and cable television lines underground. Borings for the first phase of that project are due to be complete by the end of next week. Crews will work this summer on the two causeways to the island, installing a feeder line on the North Causeway to create a loop system.

The second phase will cover the island’s north end. Work there is due to start in the fall. The final phase will cover the south end.

The town’s biggest capital improvement project is a $8.5 million renourishment project on the south end beach. It was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers but never funded by Congress. Related to that is a $510,000 project to build a groin in front of the south end parking lot. Although the lot is owned by Georgetown County, which got state permits for the groin project, the town says the groin is needed to maintain the beach access required to qualify for federal beach nourishment funds.

The groin permit is being challenged by environmental groups that dispute the county’s and town’s claims that the public parking lot is threatened by erosion. A hearing was held in October 2013 before an Administrative Law Court judge, who has yet to issue a ruling.

Part of the comprehensive plan update includes revising the land-use map for the town to show that each end of the island is protected from development. Both fall within the “conservation-preservation” zoning district, said Tom Britton, planning director at Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, who worked on the update.

Otis also pointed out that both areas are also protected by the federal Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which means no federal funds can be used for infrastructure that supports development. Restricting development in those areas also furthers the town’s goal of reducing flood damage to structures on the island. The comprehensive plan update added the goal of reducing federal flood insurance premiums through the town’s participation in the Community Rating System, part of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Property owners in the town currently qualify for a 20 percent premium discount. The town plans to improve its rating to earn a 25 percent discount. By that time, the town will be close to launching another review of the comprehensive plan, which is due in 2019.

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