Town, Conservancy, and KICA file suit to protect Captain Sam’s Spit

This notification is provided in partnership with the Town of Kiawah Island and the Kiawah Island Community Association.

On Friday, May 10, the Town of Kiawah Island (Town), Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA), and Kiawah Conservancy (Conservancy) filed a breach of contract suit in Charleston County Circuit Court against the current owners of Captain Sam’s Spit for failing to fulfill their contractual obligations to take measures for the Spit’s permanent protection. To view the filed Complaint, click here.  

KDP II, LLC (KDP), an affiliate of Kiawah Resort Associates, L.P., currently owns Captain Sam’s Spit (Spit) and agreed to convey, deed restrict, and place conservation easements on the Spit as part of a legally binding development agreement with the Town of Kiawah Island in December of 2013. The development agreement required KDP to deed part of the Spit to KICA as community open space and to place all remaining undeveloped lands under conservation easement to be held by the Conservancy. These mandatory and unconditional obligations were required to be fulfilled prior to the expiration of the development agreement in December 2023.

As a result of KDP’s failure to honor these contractual obligations, the Town, KICA, and the Conservancy are jointly asking the court to order KDP to immediately fulfill the specific terms of the development agreement to protect the Spit in perpetuity. This action is necessary to protect the interests of the Town’s citizens, KICA members and Kiawah Conservancy supporters, as well as the public at large who use and enjoy Beachwalker Park and access to the beach areas of the Spit. The Spit is also a supportive habitat to wildlife species, such as the piping plover, red knots, diamondback terrapins, and bottlenose dolphins.

“Captain Sam’s Spit is a truly unique natural treasure, and the Town of Kiawah Island is committed to preserving and protecting it in perpetuity,” said Bradley Belt, Mayor of the Town of Kiawah Island. “We join today with the Community Association and Kiawah Conservancy to ensure that the terms of the development agreement between the Town and KDP, which requires the developer to convey portions of the Spit to KICA and record a conservation easement in favor of the Conservancy, are enforced.”    

“Captain Sam’s Spit is an invaluable habitat for a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans. A conservation easement on the Spit will preserve these habitats in perpetuity benefiting many rare, threatened, and endangered species. The Kiawah Conservancy, a nationally accredited land trust, supports the Town in its efforts to ensure that the terms of the ARDA are met, including the placement of a conservation easement on Captain Sam’s Spit to ensure preservation in perpetuity for this critical area,” said Peggy Barnes, Chair of the Kiawah Conservancy Board of Trustees.  

“Our community is firmly aligned with the Town and Conservancy in the desire to preserve Captain Sam’s pristine natural habitat in perpetuity. The Association, on behalf of our members, has diligently pursued the promised beach and marshland property at the Spit since the expiration of the development agreement and will continue to do so until a satisfactory quitclaim deed is fulfilled as promised,” said KICA Board Chair Kevin Donlon on behalf of the KICA board.

“We expect KDP to be held accountable for their promise to place conservation easements on the entirety of the Spit as undeveloped land,” said Amy Armstrong, Executive Director of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project which represents the Conservancy. “These deed restrictions and conveyances required under the development agreement, and which KDP has yet to fulfill, will ensure the Spit’s permanent protection forever – a long sought result because of the Spit’s dynamic nature and its immense habitat values.”

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