By Paul Gable
The International Drive project will have its day in court beginning February 16, 2016.
The scheduling order came down a few days ago from the Administrative Law Court. Three days have been set to hear the case.
The Administrative Law Court was established by a 1993 state law to allow citizens affected by the decisions of certain state agencies to challenge those actions. Previously, challenges were heard by hearing officers of the respective state agencies.
The lawsuit to be heard by the ALC was filed by the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation. It challenges a decision by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue a water quality permit for construction and paving of International Drive to Hwy 90.
Think about this process for a minute.
The ALC was set up to allow citizens affected by decisions of state agencies to challenge those decisions.
The voters of Horry County passed the Ride II referendum, which listed International Drive as one of the projects on its list, in November 2006.
The citizens most affected by the International Drive project, those of Horry County, especially in the Carolina Forest and Hwy 90 residential areas, approved the construction project by referendum vote.
The Coastal Conservation League, which bills itself as working to protect the natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water and quality of life in South Carolina, is not directly affected by the decision to go forward with International Drive.
In fact, I would submit the continued delaying tactics used by the CCL and its allies on the International Drive project works to reduce the quality of life of the citizens of Carolina Forest and Hwy 90.
And, water quality is not really the issue here. The CCL and its allies want to delay International Drive long enough and drive its cost up so high that the project will be abandoned altogether.
In the filing to the ALC, the CCL and SCWF questioned whether there was a valid need for the road. They attempted to make a case that widening and other improvements to U.S. 501 are reasonable alternatives to the International Drive project. Those of us who live here know that is a ridiculous assertion.
The citizens of Horry County decided in 2006 that there was a valid need for the road. It’s not up to the CCL, SCWF or some court in Columbia to decide differently.