An untouched stretch of beach just across the South Carolina border into North Carolina could stay that way if a private developer accepts an offer from the state of North Carolina.
A portion of the North Carolina state budget could put an end to a years-long dispute over the land near Bird Island.
Coastal Review Online reports that $2.5 million of that budget will go towards an offer to buy a portion of the coastline near the border between North and South Carolina and the Bird Island Coastal Reserve, preventing any future construction on the land.
The offer is the result of a 2017 agreement between the town of Sunset Beach, North Carolina and builders trying to develop a subdivision on the property. The deal, which put an end to a lawsuit filed by the city, says the 1,400 acres won’t be developed if the company can sell it to the state.
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Sunset Beach’s Town Council had claimed that they owned the land in question while developers argued that they held the deeds, leading the city to file the lawsuit in 2016.
The case raised concerns among island residents who were resistant to the idea of more development, The Raleigh News & Observer reported in 2016. It also drew the attention of environmental groups, like the Southern Environmental Law Center, who feared that allowing the project to go forward would set a dangerous precedent for vulnerable coastal land.