Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Abel v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

March 15, 2017

Dan Abel and Mary Abel, Appellants,
v.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Pawleys Island Community Church, Respondents. Appellate Case No. 2015-000602

          Heard November 9, 2016

         Appeal From The Administrative Law Court Shirley C. Robinson, Administrative Law Judge

          Amy Elizabeth Armstrong and Jessie Allison White, both of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, of Pawleys Island, for Appellants.

          Daniel W. Stacy, Jr., of Oxner & Stacy, PA, of Pawleys Island, and Deborah Harrison Sheffield, of Columbia, for Respondent Pawleys Island Community Church; Nathan Michael Haber, of Charleston, for Respondent South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

          LOCKEMY, C.J.

         In this appeal from the Administrative Law Court (ALC), Dan and Mary Abel (the Abels) argue the ALC erred in refusing to enforce a previous consent order requiring that wetlands on neighboring property be maintained. We reverse and remand.

         FACTS

         In 2000, Pawleys Island Baptist Church (the Church) filed an application for a coastal zone consistency certification to permit it to fill in wetlands during the construction of a new sanctuary. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued the certification. The Abels, along with David Mims, challenged DHEC's decision to the ALC. The parties subsequently agreed to a settlement agreement that was memorialized in a consent order issued on January 8, 2001. In part, the consent order stated, "The Church agrees that the wetland preserved by this Consent Order shall remain in its natural state."

         In 2012, the Church applied for a new coastal zone certification to permit it to fill in additional wetlands. During the pendency of that application, the Church requested the ALC modify the consent order. The proposed modified consent order, signed by the Church and Mims, stated, "a new permit/application ('The Permit') is being made by the Church to undertake improvements to the Church and said Permit cannot be reviewed by [DHEC] without applying the heightened restrictions required under the Order until this Modified Consent Order . . . is approved by the Court." The Abels opposed the modified consent order, and the ALC dismissed the Church's request because DHEC had not issued its final decision to issue the permit.

         Eventually, DHEC approved the certification. Thereafter, the Abels filed a request for a contested case hearing with the ALC, arguing the 2001 consent order prohibited DHEC from issuing the certification. The Abels also filed a motion to enforce the consent order and a motion to consolidate the 2014 case with the 2001 case. The ALC found the 2001 consent order was a valid and enforceable contract. The ALC then found the contract did not apply to the 2014 case, dismissed the Abels' challenge, and denied their motion to enforce the settlement agreement. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The Administrative Procedures Act (APA) establishes the standard of review for appeals from the ALC." Greeneagle, Inc. v. S.C. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Control, 399 S.C. 91, 95, 730 S.E.2d 869, 871 (Ct. App. 2012). Under the APA, this court may "reverse or modify the decision [of the ALC] if the substantive rights of the petitioner have been prejudiced because the finding, conclusion, or decision is . . . (d) affected by other error of law." S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-610(B) (2005).

         "In South Carolina jurisprudence, settlement agreements are viewed as contracts." Nichols Holding, LLC v. Divine Capital Grp., 416 S.C. 327, 335, 785 S.E.2d 613, 615 (Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Pee Dee Stores, Inc. v. Doyle, 381 S.C. 234, 241, 672 S.E.2d 799, 802 (Ct. App. 2009)). "The court's duty is to enforce the contract made by the parties regardless of its wisdom or folly, apparent unreasonableness, or the parties' failure to guard their rights carefully." Id. (quoting Ellis v. Taylor, 316 S.C. 245, 248, 449 S.E.2d 487, 488 (1994)). "When the language of a contract is clear and unambiguous, the determination of the parties' intent ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.