South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Special Situations That Might Allow Construction of a House Seaward of the Baseline

Special permits will be considered when the property owner would be deprived of all reasonable use of his property if a permit was denied or where there is an overriding public interest. The following is a series of criteria DHEC-OCRM must consider when considering the permit application:

  1. No structure can be constructed or reconstruced on a primary oceanfront dune or on an active beach. In the event the beach erodes to the point the permitted habitable structure is located on the active beach, the property owner must agree to remove the structure at his own expense;
  2. There can be no adverse impact on the policies of the Beachfront Management Act, including the policies protecting sand dunes and preserving the dry sand beach;
  3. Issuing the special permit cannot create a situation contrary to the public health, safety or welfare. In order to determine whether the permit will be contrary to the public health, safety or welfare DHEC-OCRM will consider the following factors:
    1. the site's erosion rate;
    2. how soon the structure will be located on the active beach;
    3. if the structure will meet American National Standards Institute building standards;
    4. the potential cumulative impact similar structures will have on the beach/dune system;
  4. Necessary components like sewer lines, septic tanks and the like will not require a separate special permit. However, things like decking, patios and driveways are not considered necessary and must be shown on the permit application;
  5. Special permits are reserved for extraordinary circumstances. There are 3 specific instances where special permits are considered more appropriate:
    1. Habitable structures seaward of the baseline when the above criteria are met and the following are met:
      1. The house cannot be larger than similar structures in the general neighborhood and cannot be larger than 5000 square feet;
      2. The house cannot be further seaward than houses on either side unless this would preclude the house from being constructed on the lot;
      3. If the home ends up on the active beach the permittee agrees to remove the home;
      4. The permittee agrees to any other conditions DHEC-OCRM feels are appropriate.

S.C. Code Regs. 30-15(F)

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.