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Georgetown County League of Women Voters v. Smith Land Co.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20258
Nos. No. 27006, (S.C., 07/11/2011)

The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision dismissing a group's declaratory judgment action against a developer for filling isolated wetlands on its property without a permit. The lower court, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 121 S. Ct. 675, 31 ELR 20382 (2001), held that the state's environmental agency lacked jurisdiction over the wetlands on the developer's lot. But while SWANCC holds that the Corps may not regulate isolated wetlands, the decision has no impact on a state agency's ability to do so. Because the state's coastal management program, developed pursuant to the CZMA, specifically defines the waters subject to regulation by the agency to include isolated wetlands, the agency has jurisdiction over the wetlands at issue here. The lower court also erred in holding that the developer complied with all legal requirements for filling the wetlands since the developer was required to obtain a permit from the agency prior to filling the wetlands but failed to do so. In addition, the lower court erred in ruling that the group lacked standing.