Throw Lumber Jill’s | 4650 Ladson Road | Suite 205 Summerville, SC 29485

Axe throwing in Sullivan's Island SC

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The Most Exciting Live Entertainment Game in South Carolina

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled, pulse-pounding way to have fun all day, grab an axe and get your throw on at Lumber Jill’s! Axe throwing is the newest, most popular live entertainment game in the Lowcountry. It’s kind of like darts…but with axes! Axe throwing is great for a few hours of amusement, stress relief, team building, and even corporate events in Sullivan's Island, SC. Whether you’re looking for a great way to celebrate the weekend or want a new idea for your company event, Lumber Jill’s has got you covered.

The Lumber Jill’s revolution began after co-owners Jill and Heath spent a date night with friends throwing axes in Charleston. After having so much fun, the entrepreneurial couple quickly realized they could create their own take on axe throwing. Soon after, Lumber Jill’s was born!

The name Lumber Jill’s isn’t just a play on our co-owner’s name – it involves a really interesting piece of history too. Across the pond, the Women’s Timber Corps “manned” the lumber yards in England while the men were serving in WWII. They affectionately became known as Lumberjills, Britain’s answer to Rosie the Riveter. Without these brave ladies, Lumber Jill’s wouldn’t exist. We would be remiss if we didn’t salute them for the example they set!

At the end of the day, we want to provide every one of our guests with an outstanding axe-throwing experience. So, grab your friends, co-workers, family, or favorite people and join us for an axe-throwing party you won’t soon forget.

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The Most Exciting Live Entertainment Game in South Carolina

Why is Axe Throwing in Sullivan's Island, SC So Popular?

Axes haven’t been this popular in America since “The Shining” hit theaters way back in 1980!

In cities all around the nation, axe-throwing facilities are popping up left and right as a fun, healthy way for people of all ages to congregate and enjoy a night of friendly competition and stress relief. In the last few years, the sport of axe throwing has exploded – so much so that the World Axe Throwing League was assembled in 2017 to coordinate international axe-throwing competitions. Since that time, many axe-throwing events have popped up on national TV stations like ESPN.

Axe Throwing
But why is axe throwing so popular? Here are just a few reasons why Lumber Jill’s and axe throwing as a whole is a hit in South Carolina:
stress-relief
Stress Relief

Perhaps the most popular reason folks love axe throwing in Sullivan's Island is for stress relief. We’ve even heard some customers say it’s a cheaper form of therapy! In reality, axe tossing gives you a therapeutic release that is hard to replicate. A few hard throws with an axe and your body releases a flood of endorphins, which help increase your energy, improve your mood, and facilitate healthy blood flow. If you have pent-up anger, nothing feels better than chucking a heavy axe at a target. Hitting a bullseye is even better!

exercise
Exercise

Since axe throwing is such an exhilarating activity, many people don’t realize that they are exercising their arms, legs, abs, pecs, and even back when they come to Lumber Jill’s. Like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, axe throwing works several muscle groups at once. These exercises strengthen your core and help define your muscles. When coupled with a healthy diet, regular axe-throwing activities can even help you shed a few pounds.

Corporate Comradery
Corporate Comradery

You might be surprised to hear that axe throwing is one of the most sought-after company event ideas in Sullivan's Island, SC. Sure, your colleagues might think it’s a little weird to host a corporate meeting at an axe-throwing facility. But once your co-worker hits their target, they’ll quickly understand how much fun they can have. Perhaps more importantly, axe tossing is a safe, fun way to conduct trust exercises and build team morale overall.

Unique Way to Have Fun
Unique Way to Have Fun

When you get right down to it, axe throwing is good, clean, healthy fun. Axe throwing helps relieve shoulder tension, while laughing helps engage your body’s core. When you throw in an adult beverage or two, laughs become easier and fun flows more freely. You can’t help but have the time of your life at Lumber Jill’s in the Lowcountry.

Family Fun
Family Fun

Axe throwing isn’t reserved only for adults – kids can get in on the fun and excitement too. Our warm, inviting atmosphere inspires people to embrace their inner champion, even if they’re under 18. At Lumber Jill’s, we can accommodate kids ages 10 and up. Before we pass them an axe, we will evaluate their skill level to ensure their safety. Contact us today for more info on birthday celebrations and whole facility rentals.

Friday is Family Fun Night

$80 for Family of Four

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At Your Next Corporate Event

Status quote, average, ordinary…these are qualities that no employer would want out of their employees. So, why host a team-building event at a venue with the same characteristics?

If you’re on the hunt for corporate event venues in Sullivan's Island, SC, you just hit the jackpot. We may be a little biased, but Lumber Jill’s is a fantastic corporate event venue for companies looking to try something new.

Axe throwing for corporate events is fun, high-energy, and safe for all your employees. We’re talking an adrenaline-filled day with your own private axe-throwing lanes. Get your clients or your team out of the office and give them something to be excited about!

Here are just a few reasons to reserve our facility for your company get together:

Bury the Hatchet at Your Next Corporate Event
  • No Suit or Tie Required: Feel like taking a casual day? No judgments here! The only thing that matters is that you hit your target (or try your best to do so).
  • No Rain Delays: Unlike some outdoor venues, Lumber Jill’s won’t delay or cancel your event if it starts raining outside. We’re here to make your corporate event more fun, rain or shine.
  • Skill Not Required: Never thrown an axe in your life? Have poor hand-to-eye coordination? Don’t sweat it. Our coaches are know how to teach first-timers the positions and techniques they need to have a blast.
  • Large Groups Welcome: Do you have 20 or more people confirmed for your corporate event? We can make room for your whole team! Give us a shout and let us know about your upcoming event. That way, we can block off your desired day so you can have our entire facility to yourself.
  • Safety First: We take safety very seriously at Lumber Jill’s. As such, we have implemented several safety rules to protect your team and ensure they have the best time possible.

Birthdays, Celebrations, and Reunions, Oh My!

In addition to our standard reservations, we are happy to offer celebration, corporate, and full facility rental packages. Planning a surprise birthday party for your best friend? Celebrating a life event with that special someone? Looking for a spot for your family reunion? Axe throwing in Sullivan's Island, SC is the perfect activity for your group! For the most memorable (or hazy) celebration, don’t forget to ask us about alcoholic beverage service and additional lane time.

If you want to spice up your next birthday party or take your bachelorette party to the next level, our celebration package is the perfect fit. This package includes:
  • 2 lanes
  • 1 designated coach
  • 1.5 hours of axe throwing
  • Free shirt for a special guest
  • Table coverings
  • 1 drink for each guest
  • 12 axe throwers
  • 45 total minutes of throwing time
Birthdays, Celebrations, and Reunions, Oh My!

Please note that our celebration package is designed for customers over the age of 12. Two adults must be present at all times.

Common Questions. Helpful Answers.

We understand that axe throwing isn’t your typical date night or even guy’s night activity. We get it – you’re hurling real axes at a target that is only a few feet away. On the surface, that can sound a little scary. But don’t worry, many of our first-time guests have questions about how our process works too.

This is a great question and one that we receive quite often (crazy, right?). Axe throwing at Lumber Jill’s is absolutely safe. In fact, safety is our #1 priority and has been since day one. Our knowledgeable axe-throwing coaches are trained to keep a keen eye on every axe thrower, whether they’re solo or with a group. If, for ANY REASON our coaches feel like a person shouldn’t throw an axe, they will not be permitted to do so. To help keep our facility safe, please refrain from bringing your own axe to Lumber Jill’s. The same goes for any other kind of throwable object.
The easiest, fastest way to book your axe-throwing lane is to make your reservation online. Walk-ins are welcomed, but we cannot guarantee that we will have a spot open for you or your party. For inquiries about corporate events, facility rentals, or large celebrations, please contact us directly at (843)-879-3030.
We suggest you wear something that you find comfy and easy to wear for a few hours. Don’t wear anything that will restrict your movement. The biggest “no-no” we have in terms of dress code is open-toed shoes, which are not allowed. If you pop in for a last-minute axe-throwing session, and need a pair of shoes, don’t fret. We offer shoe rentals for $3 per person.
Unfortunately, we are not permitted to allow outside axes at Lumber Jill’s. The same goes for any other object like throwing stars or throwing knives. We’ve got all you need to have the time of your life, including throwing axes.
Yes, absolutely. We are proud to have a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to keep you cool and hydrated. If you’re feeling hangry, don’t worry. We have plenty of tasty snacks to munch on if your tummy starts to rumble.

Axe of Kindness

One of the best parts of owning Lumber Jill’s is our ability to give back to our local community. We are always on the hunt for new, inventive ways to serve our citizens. That’s why, once a month, we host Axe of Kindness night to shine a light on an important organization, charity, or good cause. These exciting events give our customers a compelling way to make a real difference in someone’s life.

If you have a donation request or are interested in hosting a fundraiser with Lumber Jill’s, send us your info at

aok@throwlumberjills.com.

Latest News in Sullivan's Island

24 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina — From Ghost Tours to Sunset Cruises

Consistently ranked among the best cities in the United States by Travel + Leisure readers, Charleston is a vacation treasure trove, with an incredible food scene made up of old-school favorites and inventive newcomers, a prime location surrounded by water and near beautiful beaches, and plenty to see and do. With something for e...

Consistently ranked among the best cities in the United States by Travel + Leisure readers, Charleston is a vacation treasure trove, with an incredible food scene made up of old-school favorites and inventive newcomers, a prime location surrounded by water and near beautiful beaches, and plenty to see and do. With something for every type of traveler, here are 24 of the best things to do in Charleston, South Carolina.

Start your day with biscuits.

Start your day with a warm, indulgent biscuit. Choose from nationally acclaimed Callie's Hot Little Biscuit (which has two outposts downtown) or head across the river to Mount Pleasant for Vicious Biscuit. At the latter, order The Vicious, a cheddar and jalapeño biscuit stuffed with fried chicken, their signature maple sausage gravy, house cowboy candy, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Learn about U.S. history on the USS Yorktown.

While the historic city is perhaps better known for its significance during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, you can learn about World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, where you'll find the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, a destroyer, and a submarine, along with other educational exhibits.

Walk down King Street.

A visit to Charleston is incomplete without a stroll down the main drag, King Street. On Lower King, find antique shops packed with all sorts of vintage wares; Middle King features a mix of locally owned shops and high-end boutiques; and Upper King is home to some of the city's best nightlife and dining.

Stroll along Waterfront Park and the Battery

Start in Joe Riley Waterfront Park, where you'll see the iconic Pineapple Fountain, and walk down along the water before strolling over to Rainbow Row, made up of several candy-colored Georgian-style row homes. Continue down East Bay until it becomes East Battery, another scenic street with views of the harbor and historic houses.

See local marine life at the South Carolina Aquarium.

This waterfront aquarium is home to more than 5,000 animals and the Sea Turtle Care Center, which aids sick or injured turtles. The AZA-accredited aquarium highlights the marine life found throughout South Carolina, from the mountains to the coast.

Take a sunset cruise.

Getting out on the water — river, harbor, creek, or ocean — is a must when you visit Charleston. One way to take advantage of the waterfront location is a sunset cruise through the harbor aboard a catamaran or tall ship.

Hit the links at acclaimed golf courses.

Thanks to the South Carolina Lowcountry's comfortable weather and fantastic courses (many offer beautiful views of the marsh and water), you can golf year-round in and near Charleston. One of the area's most famous courses is the stunning Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Lounge on the beach.

Downtown Charleston is just a short drive from the area's three popular beaches: Folly Beach, Isle of Palms Beach, and Sullivan's Island Beach. Each has soft, white sand and a distinct feel: Folly has lively bars and restaurants just steps from the shores, Sullivan's Island is more quiet and residential, and Isle of Palms is somewhere in between, with easy public access via Isle of Palms County Park.

Admire art from near and far.

Head to the Gibbes Museum of Art to see works ranging from 18th-century paintings and decorative arts to contemporary pieces from local artists. After that, you can visit some of the many galleries throughout the city — perhaps you'll even find a piece to take home as a souvenir.

Shop local at the farmers market on Saturdays.

Saturday mornings are best spent in the heart of downtown Charleston at the farmers market on Marion Square. Find local produce, artisan crafts, and snacks to enjoy while you browse.

Eat your way around the city's best restaurants.

Charleston has long been known as a foodie destination, with a mix of newcomers and established favorites. Go to Wild Common for the incredible tasting menu, Fig for elevated Southern dishes, Hank's Seafood Restaurant for tasty seafood, and Halls Chophouse for steaks followed by bread pudding.

And order these classic Charleston dishes.

On your culinary tour of the city, there are a few local dishes that visitors must try (and they're featured on menus of many restaurants). Try fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and hush puppies (delightful balls of deep-fried dough, often served as a starter or a side), all washed down with a glass of sweet tea.

Take a ghost tour.

Get acquainted with the spooky side of the city and learn about some of its eternal residents on a ghost tour. Bulldog Tours has options ranging from a visit to the haunted (and historic) old jail to a paranormal investigation of the USS Yorktown.

Cheer on the Charleston RiverDogs.

Charleston is home to a minor league baseball team — the RiverDogs — so those looking for a sporty outing can snag tickets to cheer them on. (Fun fact: Actor Bill Murray is a part owner of the team.)

Sip some local brews.

Local breweries abound in Charleston, so try one (or a few) of the brews from the likes of Edmund's Oast Brewing Co., Holy City Brewing, and Westbrook Brewing, or head to the Firefly Distillery, known for their fan-favorite sweet tea vodka and fruit-flavored moonshine.

Paddle around on a kayak tour.

Take a kayak tour through the marshes and creeks around Charleston to get close to the area's incredible marine and wildlife. Charleston Outdoor Adventures is one of several tour operators in the area — just don't forget your sunscreen.

Learn About Gullah history and culture.

The Gullah are African American people from the Lowcountry regions of South Carolina and neighboring states, and their history and culture (and language, also called Gullah) are an important part of the Charleston story. Join Gullah Tours to learn more about Black history in the city, stopping at significant places like Denmark Vesey's home, quarters where enslaved people once lived, and more.

Walk the Ravenel Bridge.

Charleston's famous bridge connecting Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, has a path for pedestrians. You can walk across its entirety — or just a section — for sweeping views of the harbor (if you're not afraid of heights).

Stroll the Shem Creek Boardwalk.

Shem Creek, located in Mount Pleasant, is home to several waterfront seafood restaurants, and you can walk along its boardwalk to take in views of the water, marsh, and boats (and breathe in that fresh, salty air).

Explore Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter.

The two forts that make up the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park tell the story of Charleston's role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Fort Moultrie, located on Sullivan's Island, was in use from 1776 to 1947, while Fort Sumter, found on an island in Charleston Harbor that's only accessible by boat, was the site of the start of the Civil War.

Visit the Old Slave Mart Museum.

In a city known for its former plantations and antebellum homes, it's important to recognize the true human history. The Old Slave Mart Museum is located inside a building that was used as an auction gallery where enslaved people were sold. Here, you can learn about the history of slavery in Charleston.

Pick up a sweetgrass basket.

There are few souvenirs as iconic as a Charleston sweetgrass basket. Created by Gullah artisans with designs ranging from functional to intricate, you can find these baskets, woven from local marsh grass, throughout the city (with many sellers in the Charleston City Market).

Hop around the rooftop bars.

Get a new perspective on the Holy City — and see the many church steeples that give it that nickname — with a visit to one (or a few) of the rooftop bars around Charleston. Options include Fiat Lux at the Hotel Bennett, Citrus Club at The Dewberry, Pavilion Bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel, The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue, and Élevé at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston.

Visit Charles Towne Landing.

Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, located in West Ashley, is home to the site of the first European settlement founded in South Carolina (in 1670). Here, you can explore the gardens, visit the original settlement area, and even see animals that lived in the area when it was settled.

South Carolina Department Of Health And Environmental Control ‘Concerned’ About Plans To Trim Maritime Forest

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye NewsThe South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is “concerned” about how and how many trees would be removed from Sullivan’s Island’s Maritime Forest under a plan created for the town by consultant Thomas & Hutton. In a Dec. 20, 2021 letter, DHEC Beachfront Permitting Project Manager Matthew Slagel wrote that the plan would require a major critical area permit. The plan was developed after a divided Sullivan’s Island Town Council reached an agr...

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is “concerned” about how and how many trees would be removed from Sullivan’s Island’s Maritime Forest under a plan created for the town by consultant Thomas & Hutton. In a Dec. 20, 2021 letter, DHEC Beachfront Permitting Project Manager Matthew Slagel wrote that the plan would require a major critical area permit. The plan was developed after a divided Sullivan’s Island Town Council reached an agreement with homeowners who live near the Maritime Forest, apparently settling a lawsuit originally filed in July 2010 and permitting the removal of trees and other vegetation from the Forest. Under the plan, based on a 2014 survey of trees 6 inches in diameter and larger, in one section of the forest, 167 of 174 trees would be removed. In another section, only 16 of 79 trees would remain in place. “DHEC found that in certain areas, 96% of all trees would be removed.

Studies by three federal agencies, including NOAA and FEMA, show that the density and height of vegetation and trees are our most important protection from the No. 1 threat on the island: hurricane storm surge,” said Karen Byko, president of Sullivan’s Island for All, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest and accreted land in its natural state for the benefit, protection and enjoyment of all. In the Dec. 20 letter, Slagel also raised concerns about how trees and vegetation would be removed. “You have proposed to use a skid steer mower mounted to a small rubber-tired tractor or similar machinery within this area to cut at ground level and mulch in place trees and shrubs 3 inches and smaller. It is our opinion that utilizing machinery in the beach/ dune system will disturb and alter existing soils and topography, even if the trees and shrubs themselves are cut at ground level,” the letter said. Slagel also pointed out that the DHEC Bureau of Water Coastal Stormwater Permitting is working with Thomas & Hutton to obtain information about how changes in vegetation cover might affect stormwater runoff. According to a Sullivan’s Island for All press release, the DHEC letter “shows that this plan is environmentally unsound and goes far beyond vegetation thinning and trimming.” “As DHEC’s stormwater division noted, removing these thousands of trees and shrubs puts the island at much greater risk of flooding,” Byko said. “These trees work as nature’s stormwater pumps. Taking them away for better views puts every homeowner on the island at greater risk.” DHEC’s concerns are not the only thing holding up the implementation of plans to remove trees and other vegetation from the Forest. Of the four Council members who voted to approve the settlement agreement with nearby homeowners, only two remain in office: Greg Hammond and Kaye Smith. Tim Reese was defeated in the May 4 municipal election, and Chauncey Clark lost his bid to unseat Mayor Pat O’Neil.

The new Council, which apparently is considering its options in its effort to change the terms of the agreement, voted in September 2021 to ask the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District William W. “Billy’ Wilkins to assess the agreement. Wilkins determined that the agreement is invalid “because its provisions improperly restrict the legislative/governmental powers of successor Town Councils, improperly divest the town of legislative/governmental powers and improperly restrict the proprietary functions of the town.”

Sullivan’s Island residents remain divided over forest as legal expert publishes opinion

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) – Residents of Sullivan’s Island continue to remain divided days after a legal expert published an opinion stating the town’s settlement agreement cannot be enforced.William Wilkins, an attorney hired by Sullivan’s Island, published a 120-page opinion that states the town’s settlement agreement from last year regarding cutting the Maritime Forest is “invalid and unenforceable” under South Carolina law.“The way that the mediation settlement is s...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) – Residents of Sullivan’s Island continue to remain divided days after a legal expert published an opinion stating the town’s settlement agreement cannot be enforced.

William Wilkins, an attorney hired by Sullivan’s Island, published a 120-page opinion that states the town’s settlement agreement from last year regarding cutting the Maritime Forest is “invalid and unenforceable” under South Carolina law.

“The way that the mediation settlement is structured, cutting can begin immediately, and once cutting begins out in the Maritime Forest, we can’t undo it,” Sullivan’s Island for All President Karen Byko said.

The settlement agreement was first agreed upon in October 2020.

“That agreement basically allows the town to cut huge swaths of vegetation out of the Maritime Forest at the request of a few residents who want to cut down the forest in order to gain ocean views and breezes from their homes,” Byko said.

Laurie Volkmann lives across the street from the Maritime Forest and uses it to go on walks with her dog. She said the forest’s fate has polarized the town.

“The issue has been overblown a little bit to be ‘The people on the beach just want to have an oceanside view,’ and knowing the neighbors I’ve talked to, that’s not their primary concern,” Volkmann said.

Byko, meanwhile, said she wants the town to move forward immediately with a judicial review and undo the agreement to keep the forest intact.

Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neill declined to have an on-camera interview on Thursday.

However, he released the following statement to Live 5:

“As Mayor, I read the opinion with considerable interest, and Mr. Wilkins’ analysis and conclusions seemed to be very clear and unequivocal. Town council has proceeded very methodically, and we will continue to do so.”

As for Volkmann, she said she believes in maintaining the forest to ward off pests and invasive species, but not cutting it all down.

“I would hope that as a community we could all read this and say, ‘We’re OK with some maintenance. We understand that we’re not just going to chop down all the trees, so that we have no Maritime Forest,’” Volkmann said.

The town’s administrator said over the phone that the town council will discuss the opinion over the coming days.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Legal expert says Sullivan’s Island maritime forest agreement is unenforceable

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – A legal expert hired to review an agreement reached with the Town of Sullivan’s Island regarding the cutting of a maritime forest has deemed the agreement invalid, in his professional opinion.William Wilkins has “five decades of legal experience, including but not limited to 25 years as a United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina and a United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”The settlement would allow the town to pe...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – A legal expert hired to review an agreement reached with the Town of Sullivan’s Island regarding the cutting of a maritime forest has deemed the agreement invalid, in his professional opinion.

William Wilkins has “five decades of legal experience, including but not limited to 25 years as a United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina and a United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The settlement would allow the town to periodically thin portions of a maritime forest, which advocates say is necessary to maintain a view of the beach. Those in opposition worry about the biodiversity of the island.

Wilkins found that the settlement “is invalid because (A) its provisions constitute an improper restriction of the legislative/governmental powers of successor Town Councils, (B) its provisions constitute an improper delegation and/or divestment of the legislative/governmental powers of the Town, and (C) its provisions unfairly, unreasonably, or improperly restrict the proprietary functions of the town.”

He continued, saying “as a result, provisions of the settlement agreement are unenforceable in law or contract.”

Wilkins was careful to point out, however, that his opinion “is not, and should not be construed as, a guarantee of any legal outcome related to the issues presented; nor does it attempt to determine or comment on the wisdom of any non-legal political issues, such as policy decisions of the Town, or any past or present action by the Town.”

He also noted that it “should not be interpreted as a prohibition or restriction on the Town from taking such action as it determines to be ‘necessary for the health, safety, or general welfare of the Town’ and the public at-large to ‘further or effect’ the ‘Public Policies’ enumerated in the covenants set forth in the deed from the Lowcountry Open Land Trust.”

Wilkins went on to lay out what he sees as potential legal paths forward, which would result in “a judicial determination of the rights and obligations of the Town under the Settlement Agreement.”

Click here to read the opinion in full.

Sullivan’s Island Town Council votes to seek legal review of maritime forest settlement

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Town Council affirmed it would seek an independent lawyer to review the town’s rights under a settlement agreement that cleared the way to remove parts of a maritime forest.The council voted 4-2 during a Sept. 29 special meeting in favor of seeking a legal review of the lawsuit, part of a decadelong issue centering around a conserved forest on the island’s southern half of its beachfront side.The maritime forest, once scrubland, has developed over the years into a mature thicket of tr...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Town Council affirmed it would seek an independent lawyer to review the town’s rights under a settlement agreement that cleared the way to remove parts of a maritime forest.

The council voted 4-2 during a Sept. 29 special meeting in favor of seeking a legal review of the lawsuit, part of a decadelong issue centering around a conserved forest on the island’s southern half of its beachfront side.

The maritime forest, once scrubland, has developed over the years into a mature thicket of trees and wetlands growing outward toward the Atlantic Ocean.

It sprouted on slowly accreting land, a side effect of jetties that stop ocean sand from drifting away from the island — a rarity in South Carolina, where most islands are eroding at various rates.

Four residents living next to the forest filed a lawsuit in 2010 against the town and its council, alleging the government had violated their property rights.

Among their chief complaints: The overgrown, unruly brush harbored vermin and mosquitoes, limited breeze flow and presented a fire hazard.

A local ordinance permitted these residents to trim their bushes to be no less than 3 feet tall, but the town had denied their applications to do so, the suit alleged.

The issue wouldn’t be decided until 10 years later. On Oct. 2, 2020, following private mediation talks, the council voted 4-3 to settle the lawsuit, thus greenlighting the plan to thin the forest.

The agreement reached between the plaintiffs and the town stipulated several tree species and shrubs would be cut depending on their location in the forest, some with diameters as large as 17 inches.

Opponents to the settlement maintain the green space must be conserved and nature should be left to run its course. Many of them had attended the most recent council meeting, requesting members bring the settlement back before a judge to clarify certain parts.

More than two dozen people gathered at the Sept. 29 special meeting, spreading out to follow social distancing guidelines. Some stood along the crowded room’s back wall, eager to speak.

But there was no opportunity for public comment; the council entered executive session almost immediately after the meeting began, much to the chagrin of residents.

Council members debated for around an hour before coming to a vote.

Members Scott Millimet, Justin Novak, Mayor Patrick O’Neil and Gary Visser voted in favor of hiring outside legal counsel while Greg Hammon and Kaye Smith voted against. Councilman Bachman Smith was not present.

Susan Middaugh, who has lived on Sullivan’s since 1980, said she was thrilled with the council’s decision to seek a legal review of the settlement.

Middaugh serves as a board member with Sullivan’s Island For All, a local conservation group staunchly opposed to the settlement. Her main issue is the manner in which the lawsuit was settled, she said.

The four council members who had supported settling weren’t forthcoming during their campaigns on how they felt about preserving the maritime forest, Middaugh said.

But two of them were ousted during the May election, their seats replaced with council members who both oppose the settlement.

Now, conservationists such as Middaugh are hopeful the current council, with its 5-2 majority, will consider any legal recourse that could be taken to amend the lawsuit.

One piece of the settlement the conservationists have pushed against is a “good faith and fair dealing” clause, which stipulates parties to the agreement can’t hinder the cutting work.

A lawyer whom a group of conservationists hired to examine the settlement raised a key question: Would this current agreement unfairly “bind” the council from making future public policy decisions?

“We’re trying to get (Town Council) to at least get a judicial review,” Middaugh explained. “It doesn’t directly challenge the settlement, it’s like a judicial review of the terms of the settlement to see if it’s legal.”

Debate over how to best manage the maritime forest has sharply divided this close-knit island community. The two sides — those for and those against the settlement — fundamentally disagree over many of the issues at play.

Vermin and mosquitoes exist everywhere on the island, and the brush doesn’t present the kind of fire hazard a pine forest would, for example. Breezes are blocked primarily because of large homes stacked several stories high and built next to one another, Middaugh said.

Conservationists also believe the forest serves as an important protective barrier against potential storm surges. But one pro-settlement resident said if a major hurricane hit Sullivan’s Island, the dense vegetation wouldn’t stand a chance.

These people are also adamant the forest is a tinderbox — just think back to the 2009 Myrtle Beach fire, one said.

Both sides, however, can agree the crux of the issue isn’t really about rats, or wildfires, or getting a good breeze. It’s about the view.

The town had placed the maritime forest into a land trust in 1991, after Hurricane Hugo devastated much of the island. The trust protected the forest from being built up, which pleased conservationists as well as ocean homeowners; both the trees and their beach view would be protected.

But the forest grew over time, with little oversight from the town, said pro-settlement residents.

Some people took matters into their own hands, removing nuisance vegetation themselves. The group of four who filed the 2010 lawsuit against the town and council “went about it the right way,” said Kimberly Brown, a Sullivan’s resident since 2015.

Two of the plaintiffs, Ettaleah and Nathan Bluestein, lost the ocean view they had after first moving to the island, along with the ability to even go through their yard, Brown said.

“He has no path to the beach, he’s got no view, he’s got no breeze,” she said, adding the Bluesteins were just trying to get back what they once had.

Brown said she understands conservation-minded folks like Middaugh, and identifies as conservation-minded herself.

“We all are. Everyone loves trees,” she said, adding none of the pro-settlement folks were “looking to wipe everything.”

But the town had promised residents living along the maritime forest it would always maintain the land, along with their ocean views, Brown said.

“The town kind of went back on their word, and that’s what this whole thing is about,” she said.

Some residents felt frustrated following the council’s vote, as it meant more stalling before a final decision would be reached, despite the fact the lawsuit was settled nearly a year ago.

“We had come to an agreement, we mediated, let’s honor it,” Brown said. “If everybody kept going after something when they couldn’t get what they wanted, it’d be kind of lawless.”

The council adjourned after taking its vote without discussing any other business or elaborating on next steps in seeking guidance from an outside attorney.

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