June 13, 2004
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to take coastal futures report seriously
SC Statehouse Report
13, 2004 - - State lawmakers need to act on a comprehensive
report on managing the future of South Carolina's economically-important
The Council on Coastal Futures, a diverse mix of developers,
businessmen and environmentalists empanelled by the state,
submitted the fruits of its 18 months of work Thursday to
the state Department of Health and Environmental Control board.
The recommendations in the report, endorsed Thursday by the
DHEC board, provide pragmatic guidance and realistic advice
on how to ensure the economic and environmental sustainability
of the coast as it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
"The most important part of the whole document is the
planning for sustainable economic growth," said Chris
Brooks, deputy commissioner of DHEC's Office of Ocean and
Coastal Resource Management, which helped to start the Coastal
In short, the report says if state regulators and lawmakers
don't take more proactive steps in managing the growth, the
economic vitality provided by the coastal area of the state
may degrade. And that could be bad because it currently pumps
in more than $40 billion annually to the state and provides
a third of all new private-sector jobs..
Why bad? Because if growth isn't managed as more people move
in to attain South Carolina's great quality of life, then
the state could suffer the consequences of unplanned growth
- - sprawl, congestion, less eventual economic growth and
an erosion of the very qualities that brought people here.
"The environment is good for business," Brooks
said. "That was a strong chord throughout the process.
Businesses won't locate in a degrading environmental area."
WORLD: One way to get rid of California
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For Wes Jones, the Bluffton lawyer who chaired the Coastal
Futures panel, finding a balanced way to deal with the sometimes
competing natures of development and environmental management
was key to the process.
"People are drawn to South Carolina," he said.
"There is a balance that has to be reached between the
economic development side of it, the private property side
of it and the environmental resource that brings us here in
the first place."
It's important to note that for those who issued the report
and studied how to make the coast sustainable, "managed"
growth doesn't mean overriding governmental impediments and
control. Management means using the planning tools that are
available to ensure economic growth is happening in ways that
don't savage the environment.
A look at the recommendations in the Coastal Futures report
highlights just that. Several of the recommendations, particularly
those on permits for developers, call for improved flexibility
and decision-making based on best practices. Many can be implemented
administratively by DHEC. On Thursday, the board asked staff
to provide a plan and budget ideas on how to implement recommendations
in the report.
And that's where state lawmakers come in. While the report
encourages some specific legislation, such as adoption of
measures to protect freshwater wetlands, it suggests the biggest
way legislators can help in the future is to provide funding
to do the things that are needed to promote economic and environmental
In other words, once DHEC figures out how much it will cost
to implement recommendations from the report, state lawmakers
need to figure out how to pay for them. If they don't, growth
will continue to happen and it might get so out of control
that it starts declining.
Managing economic growth is an investment in continuing South
Carolina's quality of life. To fail to fund management is
to slowly kill the goose that lays one of the state's golden
Charleston Realtor John Settle III, who served on the panel,
says he believes the Coastal Futures report will provide helpful
guidance to lead lawmakers toward better management of the
coast. Unlike many government reports that end up sitting
on shelves, this one won't, he says.
Let's hope he's right.
NOTE: The report isn't yet online, but
you can learn more about the Council on Coastal Futures by
going online to: http://www.scdhec.net/ocrm/html/ccf.html
6/13: One way to get rid of California
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
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Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Columbia College. Hats off to the private college
for saving the state Commission on Women, which was gutted
last year by Gov. Mark Sanford. More.
Ballantine. Mortgage banker Nathan Ballantine scored
a huge upset by knocking off House Majority Leader Rick Quinn
in a GOP primary in Columbia. Part of the credit may go to
conservation and education groups that campaigned against
Doug Smith. One of the more interesting election stories
of the week was a speculation by the Spartanburg
Herald Journal that House Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith would
become speaker if President Bush won reelection and current
speaker David Wilkins was named an ambassador.
Turnout. Despite some interestering Democratic primaries
in parts of the state as well as a vigorous GOP U.S. Senate
primary, voter turnout was still low.
Drought. All evidence points to the return of a drought
to the state, which gives new impetus for a multi-state water
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