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330 Concord St. Neighborhood Association v. Campsen

424 S.E.2d 538 (1992)

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330 Concord St. Neighborhood Association v. Campsen

South Carolina Court of Appeals

424 S.E.2d 538 (1992)

Facts

George Campsen (defendant) sought to construct a restaurant within the critical zone of the waters in Charleston Harbor. The restaurant, which was to be privately owned by Campsen, was part of a joint project with the National Park Service and the City of Charleston. The joint project comprised an aquatic-science museum owned by the city, a tour-boat facility owned by the National Park Service, Campsen’s restaurant, and a shared parking area and public promenade. Campsen sought a building permit for his proposed restaurant from the South Carolina Coastal Council (council). The council was authorized to issue building permits for projects that encroached upon the waters of critical zones within state territory if the project met certain conditions. Pursuant to the council’s regulations, non-water-dependent structures that encroached upon critical zones were prohibited in critical areas unless the council found there was: (1) no significant environmental impact, (2) an overriding public need that could be demonstrated, and (3) no feasible alternatives. During the restaurant’s permit hearing, the council took evidence regarding all three criteria. Regarding criterion one, experts who testified for Campsen and the opposition disagreed over whether shading caused by the restaurant would be a significant environmental impact. The council found there would be no significant environmental impact despite a previous decision denying a permit that involved similar shading. However, the previous case was distinguishable. Regarding criterion two, the council found that Campsen had demonstrated a public need because testimony indicated that the joint project provided educational, recreational, and economic benefits. Further, witnesses testified that the restaurant’s food service, the common parking facility, and the public promenade were integral parts of the project and that no other restaurant was within walking distance. Regarding criterion three, the council received testimony from witnesses that the restaurant, which had already been downsized by over one-third, could not be downsized further and remain viable. Thus, the council found that no feasible alternatives existed. Accordingly, the council approved Campsen’s application. Subsequently, the 330 Concord Street Neighborhood Association (association) (plaintiff) challenged Campsen’s permit. The circuit court affirmed the council’s decision. The association appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cureton, J.)

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