- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - A judge has ordered mediation in a lawsuit involving ocean views on Sullivans Island northeast of Charleston.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports (https://bit.ly/1mhI6Hm suit) that two property owners are suing over a town policy regulating the trimming shrubs along a strip of land between the beach and their oceanfront property.

They say they should be able to trim the shrubs to only 3 feet high so they can see the ocean. The town says it owns the land and trees and shrubs should be left at 5 feet.

The Department of Natural Resources says the maritime forest protects nesting sea turtles, bird habitat and has 125 plant species. But the property owners say their property has been devalued as much as $1.5 million because they have no ocean view.

The town regulates management of more than 100 acres of land that has built up on the beach because the Charleston Harbor jetties capture sand and push it toward the island.

A zoning rule in 1991 allowed the shrubs to be trimmed to 3 feet, but in 2005 that was changed and now the shrubs must be left at 5 feet.

“It’s going to be one of the major issues on the island for many years to come. Our job is to be good stewards of the accreted land,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Jerry Kaynard.

The lawsuit notes that the owners of 118 lots on the island - not all of them on the beachfront - have endorsed the legal action.

One of the plaintiffs, Nathan Bluestein, worries about the safety of his grandchildren because coyotes have been seen in the forest area.

The lawsuit notes that animals living in the maritime forest have attacked people and pets and criminals can hide there. It also says that rabbits and squirrels, one plentiful in the area, have disappeared and islanders are worried about missing cats.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, https://www.postandcourier.com

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