South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Construction of Marinas

This will likely need an Individual Permit. More info can be found here.

S.C. Code Regs. 30-12 (E).

  1. A marina "must extend to the first navigable creek, within extensions of upland property lines or corridor lines, that has a defined channel as evidenced by a significant change in grade with the surrounding marsh; or having an established history of navigational access or use. Rare geographic circumstances, such as very close proximity of a significantly larger creek within extensions of property or corridor lines, may warrant marina extension to a creek other than the first navigable creek. A creek with an established history of navigational use may also be considered as navigable. Such creeks cannot be bridged in order to obtain access to deeper water. However, pierheads must be located over open water and floating docks which rest upon the bottom at mean low tide will not normally be permitted. In exceptional cases, [OCRM] may allow an open water channel to be bridged if other man made or natural restrictions prohibit current access or if site-specific conditions warrant such a crossing."
  2. A lot must have at least 150 feet of frontage at the marsh edge and 150 feet between its extended property lines at the location in the waterbody of the proposed structure.
  3. No marina or associated structure can be closer than 20 feet from extended property lines except for common marinas shared by two adjoining propoerty owners. If there is no material harm to the Coastal Zone Management Act's policies OCRM may allow construction closer than 20 feet.
  4. A marina cannot restrict or obstruct reasonable navigation or public use of State lands and waters.
  5. Marinas cannot restrict water flow and avoid or minimize disruption of currents. Dead-end or deep canals that do not have adequate circulation or tidal flushing are not allowed.
  6. The marina's size and extension must be limited to what is reasonable for its intended use.
  7. The least environmentally damaging alignment should be used.
  8. The need for excavation and filling of shoreline areas should be minimized.
  9. As an alternative to dredging and bulkheading, open dockage extending to deep water is preferred for boat basins.
  10. Turning basins and navigation channels should be designed to prevent long-term water quality degradation. If there is poor water circulation the depth of boat basins and access canals should not exceed that of the receiving body of water in order to protect water quality.
  11. Faciliites for the proper handling of petroleum products, sewage, litter, waste and other refuse shall be included in project proposals in accordance with OCRM regulations.
  12. Dredging must take place between December 1 and March 1 and be performed by hydraulic dredge. Additional Dredge and Fill restrictions are found in S.C. Code Regs. 30-12(G) and are listed below.
    1. Dredging or filling should be restricted in nursery areas and shellfish grounds and during periods of migration, spawning, and early development of important sport and commercial species;
    2. Neither dredging nor filling can create stagnant water conditions, lethal fish entrapments, or deposit sums or contribute to water quality degradation;
    3. When feasible, protective measures like silt curtains, diapers and weirs to protect water quality should be used;
    4. Waste materials cannot be deposited in wetlands unless these qualifications are met.
    5. No dredging will be allowed until a suitable disposal site has be acquired.
    6. Agitation dredging is not allowed. S.C. Code Regs. 30-12(E).
    7. Non-hydraulic dredging may be allowed if the material is going to a hopper barge for offshore disposal or if the applicant can show hydraulic dredging is not feasible on that particular site.
    S.C. Code Regs. 30-12(G).
  13. If dredging will take place for a navigation channel or an access canal it must meet these requirements.
  14. Open dockage that extends to deep water is preferable to excavation for boat basins. This must be considered as an alternative to dredging and bulkheads for marinas.
  15. Bulkheads for marinas not on the ocean front must meet the following standards:
    1. conform to the critical area line (upland boundary) to the maximum extent feasible;
    2. be constructed so reflective wave energy does not destroy stable marine bottoms or constitute a safety hazard;
    3. be constructed up to 18 inches from the existing escarpment. If this is not possible OCRM will determine, on a site-by-site basis, the location of the bulkhead;
    4. Bulkheads are not allowed if marshlands are adequately serving as an erosion buffer, where adjacent property could be detrimentally affected by erosion or sedimentation, or where public access is adversely affected unless upland is being lost due to tidally induced erosion;
    5. Bulkheads are not allowed where public access is adversely affected unless there is no feasible alternative.
    S.C. Code Regs. 30-12(C).

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.