South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Community Docks

To properly use this page, please first need to review the rules that apply to docks in general. The rules summarized below are in addition to the general rules and are applicable to community docks.

A community dock is a docking facility providing four or more families with access to water. It has no more than 250 linear feet of effective docking space and is not a marina. Effective docking space means adequate length and water depth to dock a 20-foot boat.

To receive a permit for a community dock under South Carolina regulations:

  1. The dock's size and extension must be limited to what is necessary for its proposed use;
  2. Leasing or other transfer of space to individuals who are not community residents is prohibited;
  3. Other commercial uses are prohibited at community docks;
  4. Community docks are strongly encouraged. However, they will only be permitted when they substitute for multiple single-family docks. The elimination of private docks on small creeks in exchange for a community dock on a larger waterbody minimizes environmental impacts. If enough private docks are eliminated OCRM will consider allowing more than one community dock for a subdivision.
  5. In determining an appropriate community dock size (or slip moorage) when exchanging single-family private docks, OCRM looks for a ratio of 2:1 or 40 feet of community dock length for each private dock eliminated. If a joint-use dock is eliminated, the number of lots that used that eliminated dock will count as the number of docks eliminated. For example, if a joint-use dock was used by 3 lots it will count as 3 docks eliminated.
  6. Community docks are not typically allowed to be closer than 20 feet from the extended property lines. OCRM may allow construction closer than 20 feet only if it determines there is no harm to the purposes of the Coastal Zone Management Act.
  7. Community docks are not allowed on creeks less than 20 feet wide. However, dock size on creeks larger than 20 feet will be determined by rules set forth above.
  8. Walkways leading to the dock or pier cannot be more than 6 feet wide. Recommendations of the Americans with Disabilities Act can be used by OCRM in approving walkway widths and other structural configurations if necessary.

NOTE: there is no provision for including a roof on a community dock. However, if there are roofs on other docks in the area it might be possible to seek approval a roof on your community dock.

The construction of a community dock will likely require an Individual Permit. Please read the relevant information associated with such an application, found here.

S.C. Code Regs. 30-1(D)(16)(c), 30-12(A)(5).

Last Updated October 29, 2010


This project was supported through a generous grant from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. The principal investigator is Professor Kim Diana Connolly at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Two law students, Keith Bartlett and Valerie Cochran, provided invaluable work toward project completion. Technical assistance with web design was provided by USC School of Law webmaster Tobias Brasier. Broken links should be reported to lawweb@law.sc.edu. This website is NOT intended as legal advice, and particularized analysis by professionals should be sought wherever appropriate.