South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Siting and Location of Marinas

According to S.C. Code Regs. 30-12(E), the siting of marinas must comply with the following:

  1. An application for a marina must include a comprehensive site plan showing the location and the number of all water-dependent and upland facilities such as parking and storage facilities.
  2. New marinas are not allowed in waters classified for shellfish harvesting. A locked harbor, dry stack or expanded existing marina that will not close any additional shellfish waters to harvesting may be allowed.
  3. You can request the DNR comment in writing as to whether the area around the proposed marina is suitable for the natural growth and propagation of shellfish. OCRM will not issue a permit until OCRM determines, giving the DNR's comments great weight, that the natural propagation of shellfish is precluded by the natural physical surroundings.
  4. The area selected should have minimal adverse impacts on wildlife, water quality, wetlands, marine resources, and critical habitats.
  5. 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."
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. A marina should be in an area where the least amount of initial and maintenance dredging will be necessary. A new marina requiring initial and maintenance dredging must have a permanent, dedicated spoil area able to hold all the dredge volume. Legal instruments or deed restrictions must reserve the spoil area.

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.