Action taken at Special Meeting focused on getting “clarification of Mediated Settlement Bluestein v. Town of Sullivan’s Island”

UPDATE 9.29.21: in a 4-2 vote, Sullivan’s Island Town Council voted to bring in outside legal counsel to guide their next steps as they look to see if the controversial  Maritime Forest “mediation settlement” crafted last year is legal under South Carolina law. The decision to shine sunlight on the settlement that will allow massive cutting of the forest, came after a one-hour executive session that was held behind closed doors, because it involved a legal matter. When the council came out, a motion was made to hire an independent attorney to add a pair of fresh eyes to legal options involving the settlement’s future.


9.28.21: In a major development regarding efforts to save the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest from destruction, the island’s Town Council has called a Special Meeting to act on a “Public Request for Clarification of Mediated Settlement Bluestein v. Town of Sullivan’s Island 2010-CP-10-5449.” (See Attached). The meeting is Wednesday, September 29 at 5pm. This is in response to an overwhelming number of residents who went to the last Town Council meeting asking council to find out if the settlement agreement that will allow the cutting of the Maritime Forest was lawfully entered into.
In May, four members of the current council were elected in a landslide, which many considered a public response to concerns involving the controversial Mediation Settlement. The settlement, which will allow for widespread cutting of the Maritime Forest was passed last October, during the height of the pandemic with little public input or review. The Maritime Forest provides protection for all islanders from hurricanes and storm surge, while also housing a unique and expansive wildlife ecosystem.

“On September 21st, citizens from around the island and the Lowcountry showed up to voice their concerns and it appears Town Council has listened,” said Sullivan’s Island for All President Karen Byko. “We are hoping they will take steps to review this mediation settlement in the courts.”


Despite past warnings from those who wrote the settlement that it is ‘unchallengeable,’ there actually is a path forward and there is legal precedent to do so.

The public deserves to know:
• Was the settlement agreement lawfully entered into?
• Does the settlement unlawfully bind future Town Council’s legislative and governmental powers?
• Is there a legal path forward for Town Council?

To get these answers, Land-Use and Environmental Lawyer Ross Appel researched the issue and provided a thoroughly documented legal opinion to Sullivan’s Island for All that Town Council has two clear legal mechanisms available to challenge the settlement and the court order approving the settlement.

1. The Declaratory Judgement Act: This Act expressly exists for parties to an agreement to be able to determine their rights and responsibilities without first having to default under a contract.
2. Rule 60 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure: This rule provides several options for seeking relief from an approved court order.

Based on legal precedents, it is Mr. Appel’s opinion, that nothing in the Settlement precludes Town Council from taking either of these actions. As we are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of the original settlement, Town Council is urged to follow Mr. Appel’s opinions and act immediately to approve the hiring of outside legal counsel to advise on the filing of a Declaratory Judgement and a Rule 60 request for relief under the court order.

“We want Town Council to know that we respect their courage and resolve to see this vital issue through,” Byko said.