The Advocates: Salt Marsh Mitigation

The Charleston Metro Chamber’s Regional Policy Committee (RPC) reviews policy in five focus areas: economic development, housing attainability, One Region, development processes and transportation and infrastructure.

At the request of a member, the RPC recently reviewed the Charleston County Zoning and Land Development Regulations (ZLDR) amendments that allow salt marsh mitigation banks to proceed without variances. Mitigation banks are an essential tool to restore, enhance and preserve streams and wetlands that are impacted by infrastructure improvement projects. 

After hearing a presentation from the American Mitigation Company, the RPC voted to support the Charleston County ZLDR amendments that allow salt marsh projects to proceed without variances. 

The availability of tidal credits is crucial to enhance the capacity of our multimodal transportation network, while promoting a balanced approach to environmental regulation that embraces responsible stewardship without unreasonably burdening business and industry. Salt Marsh Mitigation banks are vital for infrastructure projects like Main Road, Highway 41 and potentially I-526.

Mitigation banks already go through a lengthy approval process in SC that includes experts at the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA-NMFS), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) and SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). If a mitigation bank can obtain approval from all of these expert agencies, Charleston County should not stand in the way of the project. The County does not have the capacity to hire staff with expertise to review these complex projects.

During the public hearing on June 21, the Chamber submitted comment that concluded with “In pursuing our mission to advance a prosperous sustainable business environment, we strive to integrate responsible economic, environmental and social principles into our regional strategies and decision making. We urge Charleston County Council to adopt the ZLDR amendments that allow salt marsh projects to proceed without variances.”

Last night, the salt marsh mitigation ZLDR amendments were in front of the planning committee. After a spirited debate, the Committee voted 6 to 1 in favor of the amendments. Special thanks to Council members Pryor, Sass, Schweers, Moody, Johnson and Honeycutt who supported the amendment. The proposed ZLDR amendments now move to the full Council next Tuesday, July 12. 

We will continue to talk with members of Charleston County Council to ensure we can grow responsibly and protect what makes the Lowcountry such a great place to live.

Bailey Vincett, Government Relations Coordinator
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