Lowcountry Open Land Trust v. State of South Carolina
South Carolina Court of Appeals
552 S.E.2d 778 (2001)
The Lowcountry Open Land Trust (LOLT) (defendant) received a donation of approximately 450 acres of tidal marshlands bordering the Ashley River in South Carolina. The marshlands were part of a plot of land originally granted to Edward Peronneau by the State of South Carolina (plaintiff) in 1836. The original grant, and the attached drawings of the plot, indicated that the grant expressly included the marshlands. James Atkins (plaintiff), who owned upland property adjoining the Ashley River marshlands donated to LOLT, received permission from South Carolina to build a wharf extending over the marshlands from Atkins’s property to the navigable waters of the Ashley River. LOLT sued South Carolina and Atkins seeking (1) a declaratory judgment of fee-simple title to the marshlands; and (2) to prevent Atkins from building a wharf over the marshlands based on that fee-simple title. Atkins and South Carolina countered, arguing that Atkins had the riparian right to wharf-out over the marshlands to the Ashley River’s navigable waters regardless of whether the marshlands were privately owned or owned by the state. The lower court ruled for LOLT, holding that LOLT had fee-simple ownership over the marshlands and that LOLT could therefore prohibit Atkins from building a wharf over the marshlands. Atkins and South Carolina appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Shuler, J.)
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