Town refuses to reopen beach to all, so a South Carolina county threatens to sue

·2 min read

Charleston County is threatening legal action against the City of Folly Beach if the tourist destination doesn’t reopen beach access and overnight lodging for non-residents.

Most other beach towns along the South Carolina coast have reopened access to the beaches and have begun phasing in short-term rentals after Gov. Henry McMaster issued a new order to allow the state to begin reopening.

The state closed beach access points to try to stop people from congregating as the coronavirus spread through South Carolina communities.

In a letter to Folly Beach city leaders, county council chair Elliott Summey said, “I write on behalf of the County, urging the City to rescind its action and allow all residents to enjoy the use of public beaches, parks, waterways, and dining/retail establishments in the City, as well as lifting the ban on short-term rentals.”

In the letter sent Tuesday, the county chair said he spoke with Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin about why he thinks the city is in conflict with the state lifting restrictions.

On Monday, Folly city leaders eased some restrictions. The city, on an island and only accessible by bridge, had 24-hour checkpoints to keep non-residents out, WCBD reports. Now those checkpoints will only be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the city order.

The new order also allows hotels and other short-term rentals to start allowing people to check in on May 12.

“If the City is unwilling to rescind its emergency ordinance amendments, Charleston County will be forced to take legal action to undo these restrictions,” Summey said in the letter to Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin.

Goodwin said in response, “We’re not going to change a thing... Not I, but the council isn’t going to change a thing because he’s threatening us with a lawyer,” according to WCIV.

Goodwin declined to comment to McClatchy News because of pending legal action.

The county threatened Isle of Palms earlier this week with legal action over its short-term rental and beach access rules, but the city council voted to overturn those rules on Monday, WCSC reports.

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