Community Updates

Approval Process, Boardwalk Construction

Approval Process, Boardwalk Construction

Sea Pines Forest Preserve Foundation

May 1, 2019

The property that contains the beach dunes system is known as the “Beach Trust Property” and is owned by the Sea Pines Forest Preserve Foundation (the “Foundation”).  The trustees of the Foundation (the “Trustees”) have adopted and enforce a policy (the “Policy”) which governs the use of and access to the Beach Trust Property (see attachment A.).  In part, the Policy requires that structures currently existing within the Beach Trust Property and not otherwise approved shall not be enlarged or rebuilt.  New or rebuilt boardwalks must extend to the seaward toe of the primary dune.  Additionally, any boardwalks (existing or new) that pose a danger to the integrity of the dune system must be adjusted.

Following Hurricane Matthew in October, 2016 a moratorium was enacted on boardwalk construction within the Beach Trust Property (minor, emergency repairs were allowed).  The intent of the moratorium was to prevent construction from interfering with dune recovery processes, including sand renourishment, sand fencing and vegetation planting by the Town of Hilton Head and other natural processes (e.g. wind and tides).

Dunes have sufficiently formed and the moratorium was lifted on May 1, 2019.  Homeowners should contemplate their specific situation when determining the need/timing of re-building.  Boardwalks are intended to protect the integrity of the dune system.  If the current/anticipated amount of use creates a visible footpath, prevents additional sand accumulation or impedes the growth of stabilizing vegetation a boardwalk should be installed.  Conversely, if the aforementioned considerations are not occurring a boardwalk may not be necessary or the re-building could be delayed.  It is anticipated the dune recovery process will continue for the foreseeable future.  If the integrity of the dune system is not being compromised delaying construction may reduce the chance future adjustments will have to be made and/or reduce the amount of work needed to make the required adjustments.

This guide has been created to assist homeowners with the approval process.  Multiple entities are involved and circumstances may vary; each homeowner is responsible for insuring they have received all necessary approvals and an Encroachment Agreement from the Foundation before construction begins.

The following steps are required to obtain the necessary approvals for boardwalk construction:

  1. Contact the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (Matt Slagel,  Advise Mr. Slagel of your address, provide a basic description of the project and verify the work will conform to OCRM’s Dune Walkover Guidance (see attachment B.).  It is important to note that while OCRM’s Guidelines allow boardwalks to be a maximum width of six feet, the Sea Pines ARB typically restricts residential boardwalks to a maximum width of four feet.
  2. Upon receipt of OCRM’s acknowledgment contact the Town of Hilton Head Island (Rocky Browder, to request a Natural Resources Permit.  The Town will require a sketch indicating the boardwalk meets requirements.  Additionally, the proposed footprint must be staked out in the field.  A subsequent site visit will verify compliance and determine the location of the seaward toe of the primary dune.
  3. Upon receipt of the Town’s Natural Resources Permit contact the Sea Pines ARB (Ken Rabon, to obtain an application.  The ARB will require an application fee of $300, a tree and topo survey of the area seaward of the subject property boundaries, a site plan showing the proposed boardwalk,  an elevation drawing showing the entire side of the boardwalk, including the steps and ramps required to adjust the height to conform to codes as well as all construction details.   The ARB will issue conditional approval, subject to the applicant securing an Encroachment Agreement (see attachment C.) from the Foundation.
  4. Upon receipt of ARB’s conditional approval contact CSA (Joan Berger, to submit the Foundation Encroachment Agreement.  The conditionally approved ARB plans will be recorded with the agreement.  A $150 recording fee is also required.
  5. Once attained, provide the Foundation Encroachment Agreement to the ARB.  The ARB will then issue final approval.

If you have questions or require additional information please contact David Henderson, CSA’s Director of Special Projects and Operations at 843-671-7827 or

Attachment A.

Attachment B.

Attachment C.