When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC

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If you have been accused and charged with a crime you are in need of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC. Having a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side is key in order to protect your freedoms and to ensure that a proper legal defense is built to shield you. Dealing with legal charges in Seabrook Island can be a highly distressing ordeal with even minor violations causing considerable impact on an individual's personal and work life. The repercussions of having a criminal record can be severe, leading to loss of employment, severed relationships and alienation from loved ones.

At Theos Law Firm we offer trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. Our criminal defense team has over 50 years of combined experience and is committed to ensuring our clients maintain their freedom and move forward with their lives. From handling drug-related charges to more nuanced federal cases, sexual misconduct offenses and murder cases, we take a personalized approach to every case. By utilizing cutting-edge legal strategies and decades of combined experience, we provide the best opportunity to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Service Areas

We help clients overcome criminal charges in a wide range of cases, including the following:

  • Homicides
  • Drug Crimes
  • Juvenile Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
  • Misdemeanor Offenses
  • Federal Offenses
  • More

If you are facing one or more of the charges above, it's imperative that you establish contact with a legal advocate ASAP. At Theos Law, you can rest easy knowing our phone line is always open. When your future is up for grabs, let our team of criminal defense lawyers fight for your rights. It all starts with a free consultation at our law firm in Seabrook Island where we will educate you on the particulars of the charges you're facing and explain the next steps in our representation.

At this point, you probably have many questions in mind. Keep reading for more information on criminal law in South Carolina and some of our criminal defense specialties at Theos Law.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Seabrook Island, SC

Understanding Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, criminal cases are classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, offenses that carry a maximum penalty of less than one year are considered misdemeanors. On the other hand, crimes that carry a punishment of more than one year in prison are generally classified as felonies.

State and Federal Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

Crimes in The Palmetto State are usually split into three categories: (1) Magistrate or Municipal Level Offenses; (2) General Sessions or Circuit Court State Charges; and, (3) Federal Crimes. Classifications are based on which prosecuting body has jurisdiction to prosecute a particular charge or offense. Regardless of which court your criminal charge is in, the Theos Law Firm has decades of experience protecting individuals from prosecution and assuring that the best possible outcome is achieved.

 Attorney At Law Seabrook Island, SC
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The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in South Carolina

Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime can be challenging for someone facing their first charge. Misdemeanors are generally considered minor offenses, and can result in punishment by incarceration up to one year.

Conversely, felonies are more severe crimes which are punishable by incarceration of more than one year. Those charged with a felony may face significant fines and a prison sentences of over a year in a federal or state institution. Convicted felons may face difficulties after their release such as losing the right to vote and the right to carry a firearm. These penalties make it crucial to have a reliable criminal defense attorney in Seabrook Island, SC.

Plea Deals in South Carolina

It is not uncommon for legal cases to be resolved without a trial through a plea deal. In order to assure that the best possible plea deal become available it is crucial for your legal defense to properly build your defense and prepare your case for trial. Deciding to represent yourself or not hiring the best legal team will likely result in exposure to unnecessary penalties, fines and jail time.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC?

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At Theos Law Firm, we often receive questions from potential clients about when they should hire a criminal defense attorney for the charges that they're facing. Although each situation and client are unique, there are some common criminal situations to keep in mind. In general, it's always best to reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as you're charged or have been arrested.

Below are some guidelines to help you decide when it's necessary to retain a criminal defense attorney for your case in South Carolina.

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When You've Been Accused or Charged

Thinking about hiring a criminal defense lawyer when you're charged with a crime is a no-brainer for most, and for good reason. Our team of experience criminal defense attorneys can offer assistance with various offenses, ranging from minor crimes to more serious ones such as sexual assault and manslaughter. Regardless of the charges, navigating the legal system can be complex, and without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the situation can escalate rapidly. It is critical that you engage an experienced attorney as soon as possible!


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When Investigators or Police Question You

As you may have observed in movies or television shows, the police might request you to provide a statement, giving the impression that you are not under arrest. Remember, it is within your rights to have a criminal defense attorney in Seabrook Island, SC, present during questioning, and you should absolutely use that to your advantage. If possible, consult with an attorney before answering any questions or participating in any discussions with law enforcement.


 Family Lawyer Seabrook Island, SC

When Authorities Search Your Residence

In the event that law enforcement officers arrive at your residence with a warrant, it indicates that a judge has determined there is reasonable suspicion that evidence related to a criminal offense is present in your home. Regardless of whether they discover and confiscate anything, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a seasoned defense attorney to discuss the situation and receive assistance in determining any potential charges or locations they may investigate in the future.


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When You Are Wrongly Accused of Committing a Crime

Could you imagine being accused of something you didn't do? When you are accused or charged with committing a crime that you didn't commit defending yourself may seem straightforward but it can be an arduous task to see to it that the charges are timely resolved. It can also feel hopeless and like it's impossible for you to get someone to listen to your side. The truth is that anything you say or do can and will be used against you. To increase your chances of being cleared of charges, it's advisable to have a defense lawyer who can support your innocence and fight for your rights. Criminal defense attorneys at Theos Law don't just listen - we act swiftly and always with your best interests at heart.


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When Your Child Is Involved

The legal system for juveniles in South Carolina is different than it is for adults. It comes with its own complications and hurdles to overcome. If you your child has been accused of a crime it's imperative to get legal counsel swiftly. Failure to do so could be destructive to your child's life, your family or result in a exposure to jail time. Keep reading to learn more about just a few of the most common criminal defense cases we accept at Theos Law Firm.

Criminal Defense for DUIs in South Carolina

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In terms of common criminal offenses in South Carolina, DUIs top the list, especially regarding mindful drivers with clean driving records and no criminal history. Unfortunately for these drivers, a DUI conviction in South Carolina stays on your record and cannot be expunged. Even first-time offenses with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent can be costly. Your insurance premiums go up for years, you may end up paying almost $1,000 in fines and fees, and there's a good chance you'll have to perform community service or serve jail time.

If your breathalyzer test result is more than .15%, you refuse the breathalyzer, or it is recorded as a refusal, your license will be automatically suspended, which complicates matters further. Throw in the possibility of interlock device rental, and your life may never be the same. For those reasons alone, it is crucial to approach such charges with the help of a DUI defense lawyer. At Theos Law Firm, our attorneys have years of experience in successfully fighting these types of charges.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, there is hope. That's especially true if the accused has undergone a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve such tests are successfully beaten every day. At Theos Law Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your DUI case in Seabrook Island and explore every possible angle to have it dismissed.

To begin that process, your criminal defense lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC, may seek answers to many questions, including:

  • Was your DUI stop legal? If not, your case could be thrown out.
  • Is there enough probable cause or evidence for an arrest? If there is not, it's possible to file a pre-trial motion for your case to be dismissed.
  • Did officers explain implied consent rights? One of the most common errors police make is failing to take this step.
  • Did the police maintain your BAC and breathalyzer results? Breath testing often comes with inherent weaknesses. This can create doubt in a juror's mind.
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Criminal Defense for Drug Cases in South Carolina

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If you are dealing with drug-related crimes in Seabrook Island or another city in South Carolina, it is crucial for you to understand the potential penalties involved. Possession of a controlled substance may fall under the category of a misdemeanor, but many drug offenses are considered felonies. Even a minor drug offense conviction can result in long-lasting negative consequences. As such, it's always advisable to explore your options and seek the assistance of a Seabrook Island drug crime attorney. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help safeguard your rights and may help achieve a favorable outcome.

One of the most frequent questions we hear at Theos Law is, "What does possession mean?"

Drug charges based on possession in South Carolina are divided into three categories:

  • Simple Possession
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Trafficking

However, the state also has other drug charges that are not based on the weight of the drugs. These include:

  • Drug Distribution
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution Near Schools, Parks, or Playgrounds
Criminal Defense Lawyer Seabrook Island, SC

Possession-based drug charges in South Carolina are deemed "graduated offenses" with penalties that grow more severe based on the weight of the drugs. It's important to note that the charges can be based on either actual or constructive possession. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC, today to learn more about the complexities involved with drug cases in Seabrook Island and other cities in South Carolina.

Some of the most common drug charges we see at Theos Law include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD and Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription Pain Killers
  • Fentanyl
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Can I be Arrested for Drug Paraphernalia in South Carolina?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding "Yes." Drug paraphernalia can refer to various items such as pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, grinders, and rolling papers which are linked to drug usage, preparation, storage, or hiding. Even though some of these items may have legitimate uses, like tobacco pipes or medical syringes, they can still be scrutinized by law enforcement if there is proof of illegal drug use or intent.

Criminal Defense for Assault and Battery Cases in South Carolina

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If you are facing assault and battery charges, it is possible that you haven't actually physically harmed someone. Many people associate assault and battery with brutal beatings, but that is just one example. There are other situations that are less severe than what people typically imagine.

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It's a common misunderstanding that physical injury is required for assault and battery charges. The fines, penalties, and jail time you may face depend on the severity of your charges and the number of offenses. Regardless of the degree of your charges, Assault and Battery is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. The consequences of a conviction can be life-changing, and as such, your criminal defense lawyer in Seabrook Island, SC, should work relentlessly to fight the charges being levied against you.

Though this list isn't comprehensive, here are some of the biggest factors that dictate the severity of your assault and battery charges:

  • Age of Victim
  • Severity of Injuries Sustained
  • Size and Weight of Accused vs. Size and Weight of Victim
  • Whether or Not the Victim Presses Charges
  • Whether or Not Weapons Were Involved
  • Whether or Not the Victim's Privates Were Touched

Understanding the Degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina

Third Degree

Causing harm to someone or threatening to do so with the ability to carry out the threat can result in a charge of third-degree assault and battery. This misdemeanor offense is typically heard in municipal or magistrate courts and may carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.

Second Degree

Causing harm or making threats to harm someone that results in moderate bodily injury can lead to charges of second-degree assault and battery. Additionally, touching someone's private parts without their consent can also result in charges of assault and battery in the second degree. This misdemeanor offense is heard in General Session court and can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

First Degree

Assault and Battery in the first degree can involve a number of actions such as inflicting an unlawful injury when kidnapping, touching a person's privates "with lewd and lascivious intent," and much more. Contact Theos Law Firm for more info on the degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina.

Everyone Deserves a Reliable Criminal Defense Attorney in Seabrook Island, SC

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At Theos Law firm, we work tirelessly to ensure that our client's rights are not overlooked. Because unfortunately, the rights of everyday citizens are often trampled by law enforcement oversights and legal system failures.

That's why every criminal defense lawyer at our firm works hard to provide guidance and support throughout the legal process by keeping you informed of updates and as comfortable as possible during this trying time. Benefits of hiring Theos Law Firm include:

  • Thorough Knowledge of South Carolina Criminal Law & Procedures
  • Seasoned Legal Representation in the Courtroom
  • Years of Experience Structuring Plea bargains
  • Ability to Identify Due Process Violations
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients & Vigorous Representation
  • Skilled Negotiation Tactics Involved with Bail, Sentencing, Appeals, and More
  • Familiarity with Local Prosecutors

Unlike some criminal defense law firms in South Carolina, our team believes that everyone deserves a great lawyer when their freedoms are on the line. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in South Carolina, trust Theos Law to have your back without judgment.

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Latest News in Seabrook Island, SC

The Most Expensive Beaches in South Carolina to Buy a Second Home

Have you ever dreamed of rolling out of bed to watch the sun rise over the ocean waves? Do you find that a week at the beach is too short? If you love to spend your days searching for sea shells, watching for marine wildlife, or simply walking in the sand, you may have thought about purchasing a second home that would let you enjoy the ocean any time you please. In fact, some of the beaches in ...

Have you ever dreamed of rolling out of bed to watch the sun rise over the ocean waves? Do you find that a week at the beach is too short? If you love to spend your days searching for sea shells, watching for marine wildlife, or simply walking in the sand, you may have thought about purchasing a second home that would let you enjoy the ocean any time you please. In fact, some of the beaches in South Carolina are among some of the most popular in the entire country.

Each year, thousands of visitors flock to Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, and other beachside towns in South Carolina and its neighboring states of Georgia and North Carolina. Yet if you have ever considered purchasing a beach house, you know that oceanfront property does not come cheap. This article covers five of the most popular and most expensive beaches in South Carolina. You will discover basic facts about each place and the key numbers that prove that they are among the most expensive places to buy a beach house in the entire state. Let’s dive in now, starting with the most expensive beach community in South Carolina.

Sullivan’s Island

First on the list of most expensive beaches in South Carolina is the town of Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s Island is a barrier island close to Charleston Harbor. This 2.5-mile island has a small-town feel with gorgeous beaches, marshes, and plenty of history and culture for visitors to enjoy. Located only about 10 miles outside of downtown Charleston, you can reach Sullivan’s Island after a quick 20-minute drive. This beach town is a popular destination for families with young children and retirees alike and provides plenty of award-winning restaurants, watersports like kayaking and swimming, and historic landmarks.

The quiet, picturesque town gives residents and visitors a sense of rural peace while a population of only about 2,000 ensures that neighbors know each other. The majority of homes are owned, with fewer than 20% of residents renting their homes on Sullivan’s Island. However, purchasing a home here will come at a steep price tag.

In June 2023, the average home price in Sullivan’s Island was around $3 million – but in 2022 the majority of single-family homes in Sullivan’s Island sold for $3.8 million. Halfway through 2023, the year’s median was up to $4.7 million. In June 2023, one oceanfront home sold for an incredible $6.29 million, setting a record for the year. Back in November 2020, another oceanfront villa sold for a whopping $8.2 million! Not only is Sullivan’s Island the most expensive beach community in which to buy a house in South Carolina, but it is also one of the top most expensive in the country!

Kiawah Island

Next up is Kiawah Island, a beach in South Carolina called an “oasis of untouched natural beauty and renowned hospitality.” The town of Kiawah Island is located about 21 miles outside of Charleston. With 10 miles of beaches and diverse habitats – from sand dunes to forests and marshes – Kiawah Island is the place to find wildlife thriving. From sea turtles to alligators and whitetail deer and bobcats, Kiawah Island is a window into ocean ecosystems and land mammals alike. This resort island has world-renowned golf resorts, including the famous Kiawah Island Golf Resort which has hosted golfing championships.

This charming resort island has a regular calendar of events, a thriving restaurant and shopping scene, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure. Buying a home on Kiawah Island, however, could be an adventure of its own. Most of the homes on Kiawah Island are rented out during the year to the numerous guests visiting the beaches. Homeowners can expect to pay steep homeowners association (HOA) fees, significant upfront costs, flood insurance, and more. However, the local market makes up for that with a lot of options. Do you want to live in a condo? Would you prefer to buy a house? Are you looking for a beachfront mansion? Whichever it is, Kiawah Island has it all.

In 2022, the median price of a single-family home was $2.7 million. The island saw an incredible $742 million in sales.

Isle of Palms

The town of Isle of Palms is located on the barrier island also called “Isle of Palms.” This residential and resort community with a population of just over 4,300. Take a 20-minute drive from Charleston, and you might end up walking the six miles of white, sandy beaches. Isle of Palms has many bike paths around the island, lots of recreation facilities and opportunities to enjoy every sport from tennis to softball. On the north end of the island, the Wild Dunes Resort commands 1,500 acres of land. There, you will find pools, tennis courts, and golf, as well as homes and vacation rentals.

Isle of Palms is often voted one of the best places to live in South Carolina since the town offers plenty of restaurants and activities and operates like a tiny city. This self-contained ecosystem has everything you will need to live or vacation in a beachside house.

However, purchasing a home on the Isle of Palms might not be easy. In 2022, the median home price for a single-family home was $1.98 million. Yet by June 2023, the median home price was already up to $2.15 million – and prices still seemed to be on the upswing.

Folly Beach

Folly Beach is a town on Folly Island. In this beachfront city just south of Charleston, life revolves around the ocean. Whether biking the beachfront trails, kayaking, surfing, swimming, or boating, visitors flock to Folly Beach to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand. This 12-square-mile barrier island offers 6 miles of beaches and a quirky assortment of local businesses – from seafood restaurants to cafes and small shops.

Folly Beach is also steeped in history. From pirate legends to Civil War history, Folly Beach was historically the site of dastardly deeds and military occupation. Despite being abandoned after the Civil War and later being hit by devastating hurricanes, Folly Beach made an amazing comeback during the 20th century. Today, the boardwalk and the many local attractions bring thousands of visitors to the town that 2,400 residents call home.

In 2022, the median cost of a single-family home in Folly Beach was $1.66 million. Even a small two-bedroom bungalow could easily set you back $1.2 million.

Seabrook Island

Yet another Charleston-area beach town is Seabrook Island. This small, welcoming oceanfront community boasts of natural beauty, miles of pristine beaches, forest, and marshland. Seabrook Island is a private community on a gated barrier island. This means that Seabrook Island is exclusively accessible to residents and their guests. Privacy, peace, and nature attract members who want to enjoy the natural wonders away from crowded beaches.

Thanks to its exclusivity, Seabrook Island features many luxury homes, including those that look out at the ocean or feature river, marsh, forest, or golf course views. As a planned community, Seabrook Island’s designers sought to maintain the natural habitat, keep the local wildlife, and provide luxury real estate.

Unlike in other towns on this list, there is a unique process to become part of the Seabrook Island community. The Seabrook Island Real Estate team is your official source for buying and selling homes in Seabrook Island. You get the choice to buy a unique home or build your own, with the chance to surround yourself with incredible sights. The average home size on Seabrook Island is about 3,000 square feet. With 2,600 residential properties, you can choose from among 38 different mini-communities “within the community” – get a villa, cottage, or townhome.

In 2022, the median cost of a single-family home on Seabrook Island was $1.2 million. By June 2023, that cost had risen to $1.37 million.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © George A. Kenna/Shutterstock.com

Plans for yacht club concerns sea island residents

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The potential for a new yacht club and several docks on Seabrook Island is concerning Sea Islanders and environmental advocates.Town of Seabrook leaders discussed those plans Wednesday, which would include the annexation of a portion of Charleston County into Seabrook island.The town’s planning commission voted 4-1 to recommend moving forward with the annexation to the town council.The nearly 18-acre site, called the “Andell Tract,” sits between Bohicket Marina and Betsy K...

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The potential for a new yacht club and several docks on Seabrook Island is concerning Sea Islanders and environmental advocates.

Town of Seabrook leaders discussed those plans Wednesday, which would include the annexation of a portion of Charleston County into Seabrook island.

The town’s planning commission voted 4-1 to recommend moving forward with the annexation to the town council.

The nearly 18-acre site, called the “Andell Tract,” sits between Bohicket Marina and Betsy Kerrison Parkway on Johns Island.

the plan includes a private Yacht Club and amenities such as a boat house, pool house and detached hotel containing 10 two-story cottages, according to town documents.

It also has public spaces including a boardwalk, pathways and a community crabbing dock.

Dana Beach, the founder of the Coastal Conservation League, said his two main concerns about the proposal are the environmental impacts on the water, and the crossing of Charleston County’s Urban Growth Boundary.

He said if The Town of Seabrook annexes this portion of Charleston County into their town for development, it could set a precedent for other local municipalities to do the same.

“The town may say ‘this is only a 20-acre parcel that in itself isn’t a big deal,” Beach said. “That’s what Charleston could say if it wanted to coming down from the north, that’s what Kiawah could say as it comes in from the East, even Folly Beach could say that.”

Robby Maynor, the Communities and Transportation Program Director for Coastal Conservation League echoed Beach’s point while addressing the planning commission at Wednesday’s meeting.

“There is an ongoing effort for collaboration between the municipalities on the sea islands to reaffirm that growth boundary to help strike a balance between development and preservation, this annexation would be a step in the wrong direction,” Maynor said.

The majority of the 544 written comments and 10 in person comments were against the development, although some community members spoke in its’ favor.

“I believe a Yacht Club is an amenity that fits perfectly within our diverse group of people,” Seabrook resident, Jackie Helline, said.

Mike Shuler, the Owner and Managing Partner for Bohicket Marina Investors, said he respectfully disagrees with the fear that this annexation may set a precedent for other municipalities to cross Charleston County’s Urban Growth boundary.

“What we are annexing is part of Seabrook’s comprehensive plan. Whether it crosses an Urban Growth Boundary, in my opinion, isn’t relevant here,” Shuler said. “Not to mention, further expansion beyond the property we are contemplating here is not possible because of conservation easements that are in place.”

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Hicks: No smooth sailing in the forecast for Seabrook annexation plan

For its first annexation in more than 30 years, Seabrook Island’s Town Council picked a real doozy.Next week, council will likely vote to annex nearly 18 acres on Bohicket Creek — just across from neighboring Kiawah Island’s Town Hall — for a mixed-use development designed around a marina and private yacht club.The details are a tad fuzzy (well, as much as they can be with a 200-page proposal), but public sentiment is not.Nearly 600 residents have expressed concerns about the project’s poten...

For its first annexation in more than 30 years, Seabrook Island’s Town Council picked a real doozy.

Next week, council will likely vote to annex nearly 18 acres on Bohicket Creek — just across from neighboring Kiawah Island’s Town Hall — for a mixed-use development designed around a marina and private yacht club.

The details are a tad fuzzy (well, as much as they can be with a 200-page proposal), but public sentiment is not.

Nearly 600 residents have expressed concerns about the project’s potential environmental, traffic and flooding impact. That’s more than a quarter of the island’s full-time residents.

They’ve made it clear they don’t want this, but feel like no one’s listening.

“The vast majority of people have been opposed to this,” says island resident Paul McLaughlin. “They don’t have to listen to us, but don’t go and ask for our opinion if you don’t listen to the answers. It offers no benefit to us; it’s a private club.”

His frustration is understandable, because a lot of people have valid concerns.

The state already considers that stretch of Bohicket too contaminated for oyster harvesting; the feds say it’s not safe to eat fish caught there. The state turned down similar plans 30 years ago … which is about the last time Seabrook gave any thought to expanding its borders.

McLaughlin notes the developer’s plan may address flooding on the property, but what does it do to the rest of the island?

Residents can’t leverage their usual influence over local officials, several of whom publicly support the plan, because most of them aren’t running for reelection.

It’s sort of a perfect storm — and, on Seabrook, it’s definitely storm season.

Local government is usually the most responsive to local citizens. A couple dozen bicyclists can — and did — derail Charleston’s carefully negotiated plans to redesign downtown’s King Street. But hundreds of well-heeled retirees can’t move the needle?

The island’s planning commission recommended the annexation on a 4-1 vote in July over vocal opposition. Residents get one more chance next week at a public hearing prior to an initial annexation vote, but aren’t optimistic.

They’ll get 30 minutes — three minutes per speaker — to relay their concerns in a room that holds an audience of about 60. That’s pretty standard operating procedure for local governments, but Seabrook residents are livid. The town, they say, has ignored repeated calls for a larger venue and more time.

Seabrook Mayor John Gregg says the developer has held informational meetings with residents for the past year, and when the island got the proposal in June, the town posted all documents online.

He says the alternative meeting venues suggested are all behind Seabrook’s private gate — and council meetings must be accessible to the public. Besides, he says, Town Hall is fitted with equipment to broadcast the meeting to the entire island.

If more people want to speak than time allows, the mayor says, speakers will be chosen by a random number algorithm generator.

That probably won’t make residents, or others, happy. Because this isn’t just some not-in-my-backyard grousing. The Coastal Conservation League, the nonprofit Kiawah Conservancy and various Johns Island advocates have also objected. Even Kiawah has taken an unprecedented stand.

Earlier this month, Kiawah Mayor John D. Labriola and Town Council members sent a letter to Seabrook, publicly opposing the annexation.

“We strongly believe that maintaining the current [urban growth boundary] is critically important to protect the unique Sea Islands ecosystem and the rural character of the land outside the boundary for future generations,” Labriola wrote.

That’s called foreshadowing.

Seabrook Councilwoman Jeri Finke wrote in the most recent issue of The Seabrooker that annexing the land gives the town control over it, which is better than allowing Charleston County or Kiawah to make the decisions. Her argument hasn’t moved many.

That’s because Kiawah Mayor Labriola hit on a salient point. Since the land falls outside the urban growth boundary, its potential development would be fairly limited … if Seabrook just stayed out of this.

See, right now that land falls under county jurisdiction, and County Council would never ignore such a large and influential group of citizens.

But Seabrook’s annexation blocks county intervention because the town isn’t party to the urban growth boundary agreement. That allows a few outgoing public officials to open the door to new development.

The Andell tract, as this land is called, sits at the end of Betsy Kerrison Parkway — an area just outside two wealthy communities under tremendous development pressure. Already, more businesses, a retirement community and an entire medical district are in the works.

But that land was never meant to be developed, at least not to this extent. That’s what the urban growth boundary dictates. The overdevelopment of Maybank Highway was meant as a trade-off to leave the rest of Johns Island largely rural.

Such plans often shrivel when there’s money to be made — this is proof of that. But the marina development could also bring renewed scrutiny to the urban growth boundary and spark radical change ... because people are sick of overdevelopment.

But that’s a story for another day.

At the hyper-local level, Seabrook officials should know their audience ... er, constituents. These are people who know how to get things done. They know how to file lawsuits. And they don’t give up.

So don’t expect next week’s vote to be the last word.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

Email

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

How Audubon South Carolina Protects Their Coastal Birds and the Places They Need

With their Shorebird Stewardship program, Audubon South Carolina protects Red Knots, American Oystercatchers, and other birds that find respite on their shores. Words by Gabrielle SalehSenior Coordinator of Social Media, National Audubon Society Published June 01, 2023 Maybe it’s seeing the first rays of sunlight peeki...

With their Shorebird Stewardship program, Audubon South Carolina protects Red Knots, American Oystercatchers, and other birds that find respite on their shores.

Words by Gabrielle Saleh

Senior Coordinator of Social Media, National Audubon Society

Published June 01, 2023

Maybe it’s seeing the first rays of sunlight peeking over the horizon while Sanderlings and Willets scamper on the sand sneaking bites to eat, or hearing the calls of Laughing Gulls overhead as Black Skimmers bark in the background—or the fact that I haven’t visited a beach in years—but sunrise at the beach is a magical experience.

This morning, I’m in Charleston, South Carolina exploring Seabrook Island’s coast with my Audubon colleagues. We’re searching for migrating Red Knots, a shorebird that stops over parts of the Atlantic Coast along its 9,000-mile journey to nest in the Arctic. (You can discover its full migration journey with the Bird Migration Explorer.)

Seabrook Island and its neighbor Kiawah Island are two key beaches that the species relies on for survival. Early May is horseshoe crab spawning season, which means the wet sand along islands nearby is filled with their eggs, and outside of spawning, Seabrook Island is rich with donax clams. Horseshoe crab eggs and donax clams are what sustain the knots as they prepare to fly the remainder of their journey to their breeding grounds.

"We get about 40% of the Red Knot Atlantic Coast population—that’s [over] 17,000 birds—that stop on Seabrook and Kiawah Islands in the springtime,” says Allyssa Zebrowski, Audubon South Carolina’s coastal stewardship coordinator.

Like Red Knots, endangered Piping Plovers use South Carolina beaches to rest and feed through the winter before making their way up north to breed. State-threatened Wilson’s Plovers raise their young here—so do state-threatened Least Terns—and 1/3 of the American Oystercatcher’s population find respite on these shores in the winter.

Human disturbance is one of the greatest threats these birds face along the nearly 3,000 miles of South Carolina’s tidal shorelines, whether that’s people walking through resting flocks or unleashed dogs getting too close to nesting birds. That’s why in 2016 Audubon South Carolina launched its Shorebird Stewardship program to conserve these five vulnerable focal species and other coastal birds by educating people about them.

“What started as a seasonal program led into a year-round need for stewardship,” says Nolan Schillerstrom, Audubon South Carolina’s coastal program associate. “We realized…that it really needed a year-round effort, not only to focus on the non-breeding birds but to continue the momentum from year to year.”

Now, depending on the year, Audubon South Carolina sends volunteers called Shorebird Stewards to 10 to 13 different coastal sites to prevent human disturbance. The stewards undergo training each year to learn more about coastal birds and their behaviors. They also are trained on how to talk to beachgoers to get them to care about the birds. Plus, they help post signs alerting people to birds nesting or resting nearby.

“It’s all about getting out there, watching out for the birds, and telling other people to [be mindful of] the birds,” says Zebrowski.

The Shorebird Stewardship program works with a variety of partners to reduce human disturbance, including Seabrook Island Birders, which runs the volunteer program at their beach site.

We’re joined by a couple of the birders today on our walk to find the Red Knots. Many of the beachgoers they encounter are their neighbors and visitors to the private island, so they have their own way of telling people to look out for the birds.

“I like to tell people a story about the birds to make them feel sympathetic towards them,” says Lesley Gore, one of the program coordinators. “I’ll tell them how many miles the Red Knots are going to fly and that it’s very important for them to gain their weight [undisturbed].”

It’s clear that stewardship plays a vital role in protecting beach birds across the country. A recent study led by Audubon’s science team found that four vulnerable coastal bird species’ populations grew 2 to 34 times faster at stewardship sites rather than birds in only protected areas.

Audubon South Carolina is already seeing positive results from the program. “We do see the improved nesting success of the American Oystercatcher, the Wilson’s Plover, and the Least Tern [at sites we help manage],” says Zebrowski. That nesting success is combined with the program’s growing number of volunteers and increased notoriety each year.

And it’s a good thing too, because shorebirds as a whole are at risk in North America. In fact, the continent’s shorebirds have declined by 70% since the 1970s.

“That’s the stat that we always think of when we’re on the ground,” says Schillerstrom. “We want to tern that around and give these birds a fighting chance here on the beach.”

After passing breeding American Oystercatcher pairs, diving Brown Pelicans, and soaring Osprey, we finally reach an inlet that gives us a view of the Red Knots, though they’re on Kiawah Island today. We watch them huddle en masse on the shoreline, preening and calling.

To be able to capture photos and footage, from a safe distance, we visit Kiawah Island the next day and make another trek in hopes of catching the knots at the right time. At first, we find them across the inlet on Seabrook Island, but suddenly, when the tide rises to the perfect height, the birds flock to the sky, flying back and forth over the water uniformly as they murmurate, creating mesmerizing patterns with their striking orange bellies and mottled gray backs.

They land on our side of the inlet, on Kiawah, and begin running along the shoreline, giving us the perfect opportunity to capture their essence. I watch their activity in awe, knowing that in just a few weeks, they will be making the last leg of their journey up north to breed. It reminds me of why we must all do our part to protect them so that they can exist for future generations.

I’m also reminded of a conversation we had with a shorebird steward volunteer, Nancy Chomel, who we met the day before at Seabrook Island. When asked what makes her passionate about protecting coastal birds, she replies, “In saving the birds, we save ourselves.”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

To learn more about Audubon South Carolina’s coastal conservation efforts, including how to become a volunteer Shorebird Steward, visit their website.

Explore Charleston's Picturesque Barrier Islands On This Epic Multi-Day Road Trip

Everyone loves Charleston. It’s like the crown jewel of South Carolina, having been voted for 10 straight years by Travel + Leisure readers as the #1 city to visit in the United States and the only one in America included in the top 25 best cities in the world. That’s quite the recognition in the travel industry! And those who have been to Charleston certainly understand its allure. From beautiful sights to delicious restaurants to historical charm and southern hospitality, what’s not to love? Not to mention, there are alwa...

Everyone loves Charleston. It’s like the crown jewel of South Carolina, having been voted for 10 straight years by Travel + Leisure readers as the #1 city to visit in the United States and the only one in America included in the top 25 best cities in the world. That’s quite the recognition in the travel industry! And those who have been to Charleston certainly understand its allure. From beautiful sights to delicious restaurants to historical charm and southern hospitality, what’s not to love? Not to mention, there are always so many fun things to do in Charleston and its surrounding area. We’ve got a fabulous road trip for you to take that will get you a little farther out from downtown when you’re ready to branch out and explore more beyond, specifically, the stunning barrier islands of Charleston.

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We only included the inhabited islands in our trip. Morris Island is a sixth barrier island of Charleston that’s uninhabited.

If you’d like to stay on each of the islands overnight, be sure to check on whether or not any of the places you’re looking at have a minimum number of nights required. That may be the case especially if your trip is during peak travel seasons, in such case, you may have to choose one location as your base to explore from.

Have you been to any of Charleston’s barrier islands? Which is your favorite if you’ve been to more than one, and why?

If you’re looking for other fun things to do in Charleston, check out the nighttime award-winning tour where you can see some of the city’s incredible sites while learning some fascinating things about the history of this popular locale!

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