Hotly contested seawall in upscale community sails toward reality near Myrtle Beach

A state board ruled Monday in favor of rebuilding a controversial Georgetown County seawall amid questions about whether legislative involvement had made it impossible for the board to vote against the project.

More than a year after the Legislature agreed in a budget proviso to allow the seawall, the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s appeals review panel voted against hearing a legal challenge by environmentalists. The decision allows the project to move forward.

While the Legislature approved the proviso authorizing the wall, construction still technically needed approval from DHEC. The agency’s staff approved the seawall recently. 

“The issue of course is that a specific budget proviso was clearly written … to specifically allow this replacement to occur,’’ appeals committee member Mark Lutz said, echoing recent questions by fellow DHEC board member Clarence Batts. “At what point does a budget proviso, if at all ... take precedence over an existing statute?

“I do think this is an interesting case in front of us.’’