South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Construction and/or Repair of Drives and Parking Lots and Drainage Devices

If you are interested in constructing and/or repairing of drives and/or parking lots, you will not be eligible for a Nationwide Permit. Such an undertaking will require you to fill out a Joint Permit Application for an Individual Permit. You will be applying for two permits: one from the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and one from the State government through the S.C. Department of Health and environmental Control. Be sure to check the Individual Permit page for some helpful guidelines and information with respect to that permit application. Likewise, keep in mind that any project still must meet local requirements and construction codes. Links, if available, and contact information to find out more about county or city requirements can be found here.

State law requires the following criteria be met in order to issue permits for the construction and/or repair of drives and parking lots within the setback area:

  1. New drives and/or parking lots cannot extend seaward of habitable structures in front row lots;
  2. Existing drives and/or parking lots can only be expanded on the landward side;
  3. During construction and/or repair no sand from the beach can be used;
  4. No alteration of the primary oceanfront sand dune or its vegetation is allowed;
  5. A Stormwater Management Plan may be required, at OCRM's discretion;
  6. All applicable local ordinances must be followed;
  7. The project must follow Best Management Practices such as hay bales, silt fences, mulches, or other appropriate measures as necessary to prevent sedimentation from reaching adjacent waters and wetlands. After the project is completed, the disturbed areas must be stabilized as soon as possible with grass or other appropriate vegetative cover;
  8. No new driveway or parking lot can be constructed seaward of the baseline unless a special permit is issued.

S.C. Code Regs. 30-13(I).

South Carolina may allow parking lots and drainage devices for commercial properties seaward of the baseline in certain circumstances. A special permit is necessary and the parking lot or drainage device must be absolutely necessary for the economic viability of the project, such that without the permit the owner would have no reasonable use of the property. If these requirements are not met a permit can still be sought where an overriding public interest can be shown. Further, each project must meet the following requirements:

  1. Special permits are allowed for the reconstruction of parking lots if the reconstruction will be no larger than the area covered prior to destruction;
  2. OCRM must approve (and in some cases determine) the configuration of the parking lot and drainage devices and what materials will be used for construction;
  3. Construction of parking lots and drainage devices cannot occur on active beach. If, due to shifts in the watermark or other actions, a parking lot becomes located on active beach, it must be removed;
  4. OCRM can add any conditions it feels are necessary to achieve the purposes of the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Act;
  5. No structure can be built or rebuilt on a primary oceanfront dune or active beach. If the beach erodes to the point that the habitable structure is located on active beach, the permittee must agree to remove the structure at his own expense;
  6. No adverse impact to the policies of the Beachfront Management Act can occur, including the policy to protect sand dunes and preserve the dry sand beach;
  7. A permit being granted cannot create a situation that is contrary to the public health, safety or welfare;
  8. To determine whether a permit will create a situation that is contrary to the public health, safety or welfare OCRM will consider a) the rate of erosion at the site, b) how long until the structure will be located on the active beach, d) whether the American National Standards Institute building standards will be met and/or d) the potential cumulative effect of similar structures on the beach/dune system;
  9. Drives are not considered necessary components of habitable structures and must be shown on the permit application;
  10. Special permits are considered only in extraordinary circumstances.

S.C. Code Regs. 30-15(F)(1-6) and (6)(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.