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Hair Salon near Folly Beach, SC

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Find the Beauty in You at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa

Choosing the right hair salon near Folly Beach, SC, is a little bit like finding the perfect outfit. The materials feel great on your skin, the fabric is flattering to your body type, and when you try it on, you just know - this is the outfit that you have been looking for.

With thousands of hair salons and stylists in South Carolina, choosing the right one can be difficult. You want a salon that is clean, comfortable, and chic. But, more importantly, you need a stylist that "gets" you. Someone who takes the time to understand your preferences, your style, and your personality. You need a stylist who listens, is honest, and has the technical skills to turn your vision into a reality.

An excellent stylist epitomizes all those traits and knows how to adapt to changing beauty trends. They aren't afraid to take on a challenge.

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Welcome to Chroma Hair Studio & Spa

Where the most talented hairstylists near Folly Beach help bring out the beauty in each of our clients. We strive to provide each of our customers with the highest levels of customer service in the beauty industry. At Chroma, we offer a relaxing environment, skillful professionals, and a variety of products with environmentally safe and good-for-you ingredients.

Our goal is to make your salon experience special, from the moment you walk in to the second you leave. With a variety of professional hair and beauty services to choose from, we're sure you will rediscover the "beauty of you" every time you visit our salon.

Here are just a few of our most popular hair and beauty services near Folly Beach:

The key to a great haircut and salon experience is to understand the services we offer, so you can choose the best selection for your needs. What do our salon services entail? Keep reading below to find out.

Hair Studio Folly Beach, SC

Professional Hair Color near Folly Beach, SC

Let's be honest: DIY hair kits can be tricky to get right. They can be complicated to apply and usually have hard-to-understand instructions. Half the time, the color you're left with looks nothing like it does on the front of the box. In a perfect world, you should be able to pop into Target, pick a boxed hair color, apply it at home, and emerge out of your bathroom with a new, beautiful hair color. For most people, this never happens.

That's why people who want flawless color, professional application, and ease of convenience get their highlights at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.

Whether you are changing your hair color completely or just want a few highlights to switch things up, we are here to create the look and style that you've been dreaming about. At Chroma Hair Studio & Spa, we specialize in the latest hair coloring trends using cutting-edge technology. That way, our clients get the freshest looks, coolest colors, and longest-lasting highlights in town. When you get your highlights done at our hair salon near Folly Beach, we want you to leave excited and ready to share your new hair all over social.

Don't spend hours in the store trying to find the color you think will look great on you. Our team of professional stylists will consult with you about your vision and craft a custom highlight plan that fits you're your unique style. There's a reason why so many customers trust us with their highlights - we genuinely care about your hair and how it looks.

Our professional hair coloring services near Folly Beach are a combination of art and science. The artistic results only last as long as the hair coloring products used, and we use the best. Our hairstylists and colorists are committed to helping you look and feel fabulous, whether you're planning a special occasion or just want to impress that special someone.

 Women's Hair Studio Folly Beach, SC

Get the Look You Crave with Personalized Hair Treatments

Ever taken a chance on a new look or hair color, only to end up embarrassed and unsatisfied with the results? You're not alone - we get calls every week from people just like you who need hair treatment Folly Beach. Sadly, sometimes even the professionals get a color procedure wrong.

Other times, your hair has suffered from years of blow-drying and straightening, and it looks dry, brittle, and unattractive. You know you need a deep conditioning treatment, and you need it ASAP.

At Chroma Hair Studio & Spa, our technicians have treated all sorts of hair problems - from unprofessional coloring with multiple bands of different colors and tones to dehydrated hair and more. Sometimes, our client's entire hairstyle needs to be corrected. To do this, we stock multiple types of color and toners to revitalize hair and give it the color you've been dreaming of. Our team always puts a priority on the health and integrity of your hair, whether it's your first visit or your fortieth.

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 Women's Haircut Folly Beach, SC

Smooth Out Hair and Add Flair with a Brazilian Blowout

The Brazilian blowout: you've heard about the new craze, you've seen the stunning results, but haven't had a chance to sit down and receive the treatment yourself. Luckily, Chroma Hair Studio & Spa now offers this sought-after style right here near Folly Beach, from certified Brazilian blowout stylists.

If you suffer from dull, frizzy hair that lacks life and shine, the Brazilian blowout is one of the best ways to get smooth, frizz-free hair. By using cutting-edge bonding technology, this customizable treatment doesn't damage your hair at all. Actually, it improves your hair's health by adding a protective layer of protein that smooths your hair for weeks on end.

This ultra-popular choice offers you a laundry list of benefits, like:

  • Protection Against Seasonal Damage
  • Locks in Color
  • Cuts Down on Styling Time
  • Protects Against Heat
  • Seamless Extension Blending
  • Great for All Hair Types

To get the best of both worlds, be sure to schedule your Brazilian blowout and custom hair color treatment in the same appointment. Call us today to learn more about our Brazilian blowouts and to schedule your appointment today.

 Hair Salon Folly Beach, SC

Custom Haircuts near Folly Beach Crafted for You

There are many ways that you can reinvent yourself this season, but if you're ready to make a lasting impression, nothing beats a new hairstyle. While there is nothing wrong with sporting top knots, ponytails, or straight hair, a styled cut from Chroma Hair Studio & Spa will drastically improve your hair game.

Getting a new haircut isn't just fun - it makes you feel good, too, especially when you get a lot of positive compliments.

 Hair Stylist Folly Beach, SC

Our experienced stylists are tapped into today's hottest trends, so if you want to try something new, we're here to help. If you want to play it more traditional, our stylists have a solid foundation of time-tested techniques, to give your existing cut the edge it needs to impress. And sometimes, you need something simple and low-maintenance that cuts down on styling time and primping.

Not sure what kind of a cut you need? We're happy to give you our educated opinion and are happy to provide examples of what we think works. Whatever style you've got your eye on, we can make it a reality!

Here are just a few of the most popular haircut trends in South Carolina:

Natural Textured

Natural Textured

In a time when extravagant dyes and unique hair extensions are all the rage, the natural look will always be trending. This haircut is a great way to rediscover yourself and let your beauty shine organically without overdoing it.

The Shag

The Shag

This medium-length haircut is a classic throwback to the 79s, with a layered look, messy bangs, and lots of attitude. If you like to get ahead of trends before your friends, bring back the shag and rock this retro style with pride.

Curly Bangs

Curly Bangs

This cut will look great during the summer and will give you an innocent look that will get plenty of attention. Great for a short-term haircut or even something special for a big party or Gen-X event.

Long Length

Long Length

Go against the status quo and let your hair down this season. Pixie cuts and shags are all the rage, but rocking a Rapunzel-like haircut will set you apart from the crowd. If you're looking for a more natural, classic look, this could be your haircut.

Find Your French Flair with Balayage

If you're looking to switch up your hair color but can't decide between Balayage or Ombre because, well, you don't know the difference - don't worry. You're not alone!

Balayage is a French technique for highlighting the hair in which the dye is painted to create a natural-looking effect. The goal is to create soft, subtle highlights that make your hair look like it's been kissed by the sun.

While Balayage is the technique of painting the hair, Ombre focuses on the style of the hair. It is the transition from a lighter shade to a darker shade. Typically, Ombres work best for brunettes, but the style can is suitable for blondes too. To achieve the effect of an Ombre, there must be a smooth transition between colors. While the Ombre is a beautiful look, you'll need to work with a professional to get the best results.

Luckily, we offer both Ombre and Balayage near Folly Beach, SC! Short on time? Busy schedule? Only available on weekends? Chroma Hair Studio & Spa offers flexible appointment scheduling to accommodate even the busiest clients. You deserve a fresh new style, and we're here to help when the time is right for you.

The Top Hair Salon near Folly Beach, SC

If you're looking for a hair salon that offers high-end styling without expensive pricing, you're in the right place. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and leave you feeling beautiful, whether you need a touch-up or a total makeover. We offer a relaxing salon atmosphere, skillful stylists, and only the best in professional brands. When it's time for your next haircut, highlight session, or eyelash extension, look no further than Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.

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Latest News in Folly Beach, SC

16 Least-Crowded Beaches You Should Add To Your South Carolina List

While some travelers head to beach to party, others prefer quiet and peaceful beach destinations. There is something special about choosing a spot where beaches are less crowded and the atmosphere is relaxing. Fortunately, South Carolina boasts numerous laid-back beaches to have this kind of vacation, and they wouldn't disappoint.As much as some vacationers love South Carolina's bustling beaches like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, someti...

While some travelers head to beach to party, others prefer quiet and peaceful beach destinations. There is something special about choosing a spot where beaches are less crowded and the atmosphere is relaxing. Fortunately, South Carolina boasts numerous laid-back beaches to have this kind of vacation, and they wouldn't disappoint.

As much as some vacationers love South Carolina's bustling beaches like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, sometimes a more secluded spot in the sand to relax and unwind is what one needs. Here are 14 of the least crowded beaches in South Carolina one should add to their next vacation bucket list.

More Of Least-Crowded Beaches You Should Add To Your South Carolina List

While South Carolina is a paradise for beach lovers, boasting a number of captivating beaches that are full of buzz and excitement, there are also many for those who like to visit places with few people. Two more of the quiet beaches in South Carolina, including Daufuskie Island and have been added to this list to give more lovely options to solitude and nature lovers.

16 Daufuskie Island

For those who are looking for secluded beaches in South Carolina, Daufuskie Island Beach is unquestionably an idyllic location to experience serenity and natural beauty. Visitors to the island enjoy beachcombing and lovely vistas without a lot of tourists. It is also the perfect location to share some special moments with one's partner. Travelers must take a water taxi or ferry from Hilton Head to the Freeport Marina and then drive a rented golf cart to reach the beach.

15 Capers Island

Capers Island, about 15 miles north of Charleston, is one of the hidden beaches in South Carolina, offering a serene setting to enjoy a romantic walk along the shore, spend some beautiful moments with family while hunting for shells or building sand castles, or simply unwind in complete solitude and nature. Visitors can take a ferry or a boat tour to the pier on Capers Inlet, from where they can walk over the marsh to an unpaved trail and then to the beach.

14 Isle Of Palms Beach

Tourists relaxing under a beach umbrella on Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms is reachable from Charleston via a 17-mile drive. Believed to have been originally inhabited by Sewee Indians, this beach has existed for at least 25,000 years. Isle of Palm Beach is an amazing tourist destination, suitable for families with pets and every other traveler looking for a peaceful spot to have a good time. Travelers will experience fun-filled activities, such as parasailing, jet-skiing, swimming, and sunbathing. This place is packed with beautiful hotels, golf courses, and parks.

RELATED: These Are The Best Times To Visit Charleston (& What To Do There)

13 Garden City Beach

Garden City is one of the best least-crowded beaches near Myrtle Beach that vacationers should add to their South Carolina bucket lists. Praised for its incredible family-friendly atmosphere, the beach offers breathtaking ocean views along the southern coast. Nestled to the south of Surfside Beach, Garden City Beach is a hot spot for watersports, crabbing, and fishing. The beach boasts a pier, a perfect fishing spot during the day, which turns into an entertainment and live music paradise by night.

12 Edisto Beach State Park

Situated on Edisto Island, this beach is in one of South Carolina’s four oceanfront state parks, offering an array of fun activities, including hiking, camping, biking, and more. After a long day of exploring the mind-blowing unspoiled environment, the wide-open beach at the park welcomes travelers to have a relaxing, where they may pick some shells here and there.

There are no lifeguards at Edisto Beach. While the sea is generally calm, be cautious when swimming and be sure to supervise small children at all times.

11 Fripp Island Beach

Sunrise over the ocean

Fripp Island beaches are some of the most pristine in South Carolina. They are also the perfect spots to go golfing and experience southern hospitality. The island has been a top destination for romantic getaways, weddings, and family vacations. The beaches are some of the least crowded in the state, and offer endless kayaking opportunities. There is a kiddie pool at the seaside waterpark on the island, with slides for children to enjoy. Travelers will find several bikes and golf carts, as most vacationers prefer them as modes of transportation.

10 Folly Beach

Located between Folly River and the Atlantic Ocean, Folly Beach is one of the best parts of the history and charm of South Carolina's coast. The beach is reachable in about a 15-minute drive from downtown Charleston. Also referred to as ‘’The Edge of America’’, Folly Beach is a dream come true for tourists looking for an impressively relaxing beach destination. Sunrises and sunsets spent here are some of the most unforgettable! On the eastern side, a spectacular view of the Morris Island Lighthouse awaits.​​​​​​​

RELATED: Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, And Folly Beach: Get To Know Charleston's Beaches

9 Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park is an excellent getaway for vacationers looking to experience the wild side of South Carolina on a less-crowded beach. Boasting over 300 species of birds, Huntington Beach is one of the best birdwatching spots in the state. Travelers will also spot alligators, pelicans, sea turtles, spoonbill, and more. There is a wildlife education center at the park, as well as several land animals to explore.​​​​​​​

8 Burkes Beach

Shell in the sand on a secluded beach

Located on tourists' favorite Hilton Head Island, right next to Chaplin Community Park, travelers can easily get to the beach on bikes thanks to the sandy pathway. There are other paved pathways vacationers can use to reach the beach. Burkes is not always crowded, and vacationers will be pleased at the relaxing atmosphere. There are numerous basketball and tennis courts as well as large fields to explore within the park.​​​​​​​

7 Kiawah Island

Golf course alongside the water on Kiawah Island

Located just off Charleston's coast, Kiawah Island is a favorite among golf enthusiasts and known for having hosted multiple PGA Championships. The luxury island boasts five of the most impressive golf courses in South Carolina and some of the quietest yet most exciting beaches in the state. There is over 10 miles stretch of beaches, along with magnificent forests, sand dunes, and incredible wildlife, including bobcats, sea turtles, alligators, and whitetail deer.​​​​​​​

Kiawah Island is gated and not all areas have public access. A guest or owner's pass is required for accessing restricted areas.

Related: 10 Best Things To Do In Kiawah Island, South Carolina

6 Mitchelville Beach

natural souvenirs from the sea

Even during peak travel periods, Mitchelville is still one of the least crowded beaches in South Carolina to add to the bucket list. Mitchelville Beach is lined with beautiful trees and some grass in the water that make the place look incredibly magnificent in the mornings and evenings. This is the best place to search for seashells and track some animal steps in the sand. The beach has picnic tables, an outdoor sand shower, and a bathroom.​​​​​​​

5 Litchfield Beach

outstreched hand with a sea shell in the palm on a beach

Litchfield beach is recognized for boasting an incredibly quiet charm with beautiful golf and tennis courses. Travelers will also find some private clubs along the beach, giving them a range of options for entertainment. Surrounded by Huntington Beach to the north, Litchfield features lavish resorts with fantastic amenities and public access areas families can use for picnicking. This is the best spot to have a stylish beach vacation in a quiet environment.​​​​​​​

4 Sullivan's Island

Small catamaran on the beach with Sullivan's Island lighthouse in the background

Out of Charleston's three nearest and most popular beaches, Sullivan's Island is the most tranquil. This quaint barrier island is only 3.3 square miles, and has intentionally worked to retain its reputation as one of the most quiet beach towns in South Carolina through restricting short-term rentals. Sullivan's Island is a great option for a relaxing day at the beach while visiting Charleston thanks to its proximity to downtown.

Stroll or bike along the wide, flat shores, or visit historic Fort Moultrie. Dating back to the 1700s, it of the oldest forts on the East Coast and fabled author Edgar Allan Poe was based there. Grab a bite to eat on Middle Street and take advantage of al fresco dining at one of the charming restaurants.

3 Seabrook Island

Oceanfront vacation rentals on Seabrook Island

Seabrook Island is another one of the barrier islands that are situated off the coast of Charleston. Anyone looking for low-key beaches in South Carolina should consider heading here for their next vacation. This charming island offers a serene beach environment, lots of upscale accommodation options, and a stunning natural environment of ocean, marsh, and maritime forest.

This quiet South Carolina beach is enticing to birders, having won recognition as Audubon International Certified Sustainable Community. It is also a favorite of equine enthusiasts thanks to its full-service equestrian center offering beach and trail rides.

2 Bulls Island

Sun and Salt bleached trees on Boneyard Beach

Anyone looking for a unique beach experience should be sure to check out Bulls Island. Situated within the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, the uninhabited island remains pristine and virtually untouched. Bulls Island boasts some of the most secluded beaches in South Carolina, and is home to tons of wildlife. It is world-renowned for bird life, with close to 300 different species found on or near the island.

Be sure to visit Boneyard Beach on Bulls Island for an other-worldly experience. The bleached oak, pine, and cedar trees on the northern end of the island, surrounded by miles of empty shores, give an almost haunting feel.

1 Morris Island

Aerial view of Morris Island lighthouse

A tiny sand island in the Charleston Harbor, Morris Island is most famous for its iconic lighthouse. It is a popular beach for boating, kayaking, fishing, and photography, or simply an undisturbed stroll along the shoreline.

While it is located just a stone's throw away from the very Fido-friendly Folly Beach, dogs are not allowed on Morris Island. While it can appear to be within walking distance from Folly at low-tide, the currents are strong and dangerous so don't attempt to wade across.

Folly Beach has received $77M worth of sand in 3 decades to replenish eroded shores

FOLLY BEACH — It’s been an expensive task for this beach city to keep its head above water in recent years.Fresh loads of sand have been dumped five times on Folly Beach in the last three decades, a feat totaling $77 million in federal tax dollars and local funds arranged from the city, according to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.The federal government has allocated another $27 million for the emergency replacement of the equivalent of 90,000 dump truck loads of sand here in early 2024.A number of...

FOLLY BEACH — It’s been an expensive task for this beach city to keep its head above water in recent years.

Fresh loads of sand have been dumped five times on Folly Beach in the last three decades, a feat totaling $77 million in federal tax dollars and local funds arranged from the city, according to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal government has allocated another $27 million for the emergency replacement of the equivalent of 90,000 dump truck loads of sand here in early 2024.

A number of factors have contributed to the frequent erosion seen on the beach. Scientists believe climate change, sea level rise and increasing storminess is at play.

But Folly Beach is a special in the eyes of the federal government because it is located down drift of the Charleston Harbor and its federally created jetties. These underwater rock walls span three miles into the water from the shorelines of Sullivan’s and Morris islands. They trap sand around Sullivan’s Island which prohibits the sand from flowing naturally down to Folly Beach, said Nicole Elko, president of Elko Coastal Consulting.

“For that reason, the only addition of sand that Folly receives is from renourishment,” said Elko, who is working as a consultant for Folly Beach.

The last few coastal storms to reach South Carolina took a toll on Folly Beach, too. Emergency renourishments were done in 2005 because of destruction from Hurricane Ophelia and in 2018 because of hurricanes Irma and Matthew.

Folly Beach lost a good bit of sand during Ian last year, too. And the city had already hit its renourishment triggers prior to the storm.

How it works

The process for renourishment is tedious and includes several steps. Engineering and design plans need to be on par before crews begin the work.

But once ready, contractors use a vacuum-like drill to agitate sand down at the seabed of a body of water. The sand then makes its way through the dredge itself. And depending on the distance from the selected seabed to the shore, the sand can be pumped directly on the beach.

Earthmoving equipment, primarily bulldozers, are then used to settle and shape the sand based on the desired design, said Jeff Livasy, the head of civil works for the Army Corps’ Charleston District.

Sand can come from several “borrow areas,” but it has to be compatible with the beach. The Folly River has been used in the past for Folly Beach.

There have been hiccups with this, though.

Rocks or cemented sands were deposited on the beach during a previous renorishment. It is unclear what year it happened.

“We assessed it and it looked like the right type of material,” Livasy said. “But how much of it was cemented together and how, yes, it can come through in large chunks like it did in that renourishment cycle, was unfortunate.”

The next renourishment project is now in the design phase, and Livasy said the Corps will try to avoid a repeat of the last mishap.

“But at the end of the day, we have the borrow sites that we have, and we will make use of them the best we can,” Livasy said.

Preserving new sand

Renourishment projects are part of the bigger beach preservation plan on Folly Beach, Elko said. Putting the sand back on the beach is the most important part.

“But then dune restoration, which includes sand fencing and native vegetation planting, is another piece of that preservation project,” Elko said.

Another important method is land management, or not building structures on the beach. This pertains to homes built on super beachfront lots that sit further out toward the shore than others.

“You want to build your houses behind the dunes,” Elko said. “You don’t want them out, exposed to wave energy, and you don’t want the environment to be affected in that way.”

Elko said the city is currently trying to stop such construction.

After the 2018 renourishment, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed a lawsuit challenging the ownership of newly created land on behalf of the city, Coastal Conservation League, Save Folly Beach and a group of homeowners.

The law project said a group of homeowners of super beachfront property claimed ownership of the new dry ground and took steps to pursue development there before the property reverted back to beach and ocean.

Houses on these super beachfront lots have been condemned repeatedly and add to the erosion issues.

“Are we really okay with people building houses that we know are going to be underwater within a year or two after a renourishment?” asked Amy Armstrong, an attorney with the law project. “Is that a good policy for the state?”

Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said although the case is very involved, it’s meant to protect the city’s natural resources.

Oral argument for the case were heard before the S.C. Court of Appeals on May 11.

Folly Beach charter group sued by feds over ‘unauthorized’ party island

The federal government says the party’s over for a floating island moored in a tidal creek near Folly Beach, and it wants a judge to order the charter boat business that rents the structure for festivities to permanently remove it and pay for any damages.The roughly 1,000-square-foot Hooley Island, operated by Hooley World Wide Inc., is an illegal obstruction in navigable waters and a violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a lawsuit filed July 14 in U.S. District Court in Charle...

The federal government says the party’s over for a floating island moored in a tidal creek near Folly Beach, and it wants a judge to order the charter boat business that rents the structure for festivities to permanently remove it and pay for any damages.

The roughly 1,000-square-foot Hooley Island, operated by Hooley World Wide Inc., is an illegal obstruction in navigable waters and a violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a lawsuit filed July 14 in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

The government alleged that Hooley, which does business as Huckfin Charters, did not have permission to install the manmade wooden deck, which sits in the middle of a creek that flows into the Folly River.

The company did not respond to a request for comment July 19. It had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of Wednesday.

Hooley rents the 32-foot by 32-foot floating island to partygoers for rates starting at $600 for two hours. Guests are shuttled by boat to and from the structure, which includes lounge chairs and a grill, according to the company’s website. Customers can also purchase shotgun shells, clay targets and biodegradable golf balls “to hit off Hooley Island,” the website states.

“Looking for an exclusive island experience to get away from the crowds and your busy lives, our one of a kind floating island located in the Folly River is for you,” according to the website, which urges potential customers to “experience what all the hype has been about.”

“To make your stay comfortable for hours on end the area is equipped with shade cloths and a grill for your summer cookout, lounge chairs and lots and lots of water floats to easily cool off,” the website states.

Christian Schlebach, Hooley’s owner, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Schlebach, a former Olympic sailor and South Africa native, owns a home in Charleston, according to the federal government and public property records, but his Hooley World Wide is based in Newport, R.I. Huckfin Charters operates at 9th Street West in Folly Beach, according to the lawsuit.

Schlebach did not respond to a request for comment.

Hooley installed the floating island in March 2019, court documents show.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control tried to have it removed it shortly after it was installed, but the company refused, saying it was not a permanent structure that can be regulated by the agency.

After a small fire broke out on the structure on New Year’s Day 2020, inspectors learned Hooley had affixed a motor to the party platform and registered it as a watercraft.

As part of its lawsuit, the federal government wants Hooley to account for the money that’s been made operating the structure as a commercial venture and turn those proceeds over for use in waterway remediation projects conducted by the Army Corps.

The complaint is the second in recent months targeting floating structures in Charleston-area waterways that operate as commercial businesses.

In May, the federal government asked a judge to force the removal of a tiki bar that’s been moored in the Ashley River for several years. Hydrofly LLC, the owner of the floating hut, has not yet filed a response to that complaint and the case is listed as pending.

Samuel George Pannier, the company’s owner, told The Post and Courier in May that he believed the issue has already been settled.

Charleston County, Folly Beach have among the best flood insurance discounts in the US

Charleston County and Folly Beach have scored the largest flood insurance discounts in South Carolina, and few local governments in the nation have had more success in the FEMA incentive program that provides the savings.The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System rewards property owners with lower flood insurance rates when their governments take steps to reduce potential damage and raise awaren...

Charleston County and Folly Beach have scored the largest flood insurance discounts in South Carolina, and few local governments in the nation have had more success in the FEMA incentive program that provides the savings.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System rewards property owners with lower flood insurance rates when their governments take steps to reduce potential damage and raise awareness.

More than 1,700 governments participate nationwide, but only two have a score better than Charleston County’s, and only nine have a score better than Folly Beach’s.

The reward is a 40 percent discount on flood insurance policies for property owners in unincorporated Charleston County — the areas that aren’t part of any town or city in the county — and a 35 percent discount for those on Folly Beach.

“It’s financially helpful, and also makes us a more resilient community,” Folly Beach Administrator Aaron Pope said.

Charleston County’s CRS score improved this year and the 40 percent insurance discount, increased from 35 percent, will be effective Oct. 1.

“I’m so proud of my team,” said Hakim Bayyoud, the county’s director of building inspection services. “A lot of other jurisdictions reach out to us for help.”

So, how did the county and Folly Beach score so highly, and why do most towns and cities in Charleston County have worse scores and lower insurance discounts?

In the county’s three largest municipalities, residents of the city of Charleston and Mount Pleasant get a 20 percent discount, and North Charleston residents get 15 percent off their flood insurance.

Part of the answer is that the best scores are usually related to more strict regulations dealing with flooding and building construction, and some governments aren’t willing to go that far.

Costs and benefits

“The more restrictions and requirements you put on development, and substantial damage and improvement (rules), the greater the discount you get,” said Matt Fountain, Charleston’s director of stormwater management. “There are other ways to get points but that’s one of the main ones.”

A good example is the “freeboard” rule that determines how high new buildings must be above base flood lines. Higher buildings mean less potential flood damage, but a sticking point comes when those rules apply to existing homes.

That’s the “substantial damage and improvement” rule Fountain referenced. If improvements or repairs to a building cost at least 50 percent of what a building is worth, it could be required to meet current building code rules, and that could mean having to elevate a home at great expense.

Charleston City Council in 2020 raised the city’s freeboard rule from 1 to 2 feet, but exempted existing homes that sustain damage equal to at least half their value. The council was responding to concerns about adding costs for homeowners who could have to rebuild after a flood or hurricane, but exempting those properties cost the city some potential CRS points.

“The potential for acute individual harm was not worth the widespread moderate benefit (of a higher insurance discount), for many council members,” Fountain said. “Once you’re down to a level six (CRS score) there’s no low-hanging fruit left.”

Charleston County adopted a 2-foot freeboard rule with no exception, and also reduced the damage threshold to 49 percent. Mount Pleasant also adopted a 2-foot freeboard rule, and on Folly Beach it’s 4 feet. All those measures help with CRS scores and flood resiliency.

Folly Beach calculates the value of building improvements over a rolling 10-year period, making the rule even stricter. And Folly Beach treats all property in the barrier island city as if it’s in a “V” flood zone, even where it’s not, which mean tougher building rules.

“The last 10 years or so, we’ve had councils that were willing, from the regulatory standpoint, to tighten up our flood-related rules,” said Pope. “It’s elevating buildings, decreasing damage from floods, and everyone on Folly Beach gets a 35 percent discount on their flood insurance.”

Fountain does not expect Charleston’s CRS score of 6 to change during an upcoming review, but said an ongoing rewrite of the city’s zoning code could help in the future.

“We just have not been as focused on points as we have been on flood reduction for our citizens,” he said, citing the city’s massive pump-and-tunnel drainage projects on the peninsula.

CRS scores range from 1, the highest, to 9, the lowest. Charleston County has a 2 and Folly Beach has a 3.

Seeking larger discounts

North Charleston and Mount Pleasant officials said they expect those municipality’s scores to improve after reviews in 2024.

“We’re hoping to go two or three stages better than we are now,” said Adam MacConnell, North Charleston’s senior projects manager. If that happens, the city’s CRS score could go from a 7 to a 5 or even a 4, which would be the third-best score in South Carolina, and flood insurance discounts could rise from 15 percent to as much as 30 percent.

“We understand that we have a lower rating than the county, and we are taking active steps to address that,” he said. “We recently set out a resilience working group in the city to address these issues, and have been doing some training with the CRS folks about improving our scores.”

MacConnell said Charleston County gets lots of its CRS points by restricting development in flood plains, and much of that comes from the county’s Greenbelt program. The Greenbelt program buys open space, but also purchases the development rights to large properties from willing owners.

Towns and cities in metropolitan areas tend to have less undeveloped land to potentially protect, but North Charleston has used county Greenbelt funds to buy or protect wetlands and watersheds.

High CRS scores also require enormous amounts of staff time and paperwork, to document all the things that can add points. The National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System manual is 641 pages long.

William Horne is Mount Pleasant’s deputy engineering and development services director, and before joining the town staff in the summer of 2021 he was Charleston County’s assistant director of building inspection services. Horne said his work for the county is one reason the county’s score is so good, and he’s confident Mount Pleasant’s score will improve when FEMA does a review in 2023.

Scores are only reviewed every three to five years. Each improvement in a score comes with an additional 5 percent discount on flood insurance. So, a community with a 9, such as Columbia, gets a 5 percent discount while a community with a 3 like Folly Beach gets 35 percent off.

“I don’t see a problem with (Mount Pleasant scoring) a five,” said Horne. “I hope to be a four.”

He said documenting the town’s efforts to control stormwater, such as tightening the rules for how much of a property can be covered by impervious surfaces that don’t absorb water, will help.

SC rentals could take a hit after beach town vote

FOLLY BEACH – Those looking to book their future vacations on Folly Beach may need to start planning ahead after a recent vote capping the number of short-term rental properties on the barrier island.Folly Beach residents voted “yes” on Tuesday to enact a cap on short-term rentals at 800 units.The results came in 656-579. The vote is expected to change the course of Folly rentals, similar to what’s happening statewide as cities and counties react to an increase in short-term rentals.Folly Beach re...

FOLLY BEACH – Those looking to book their future vacations on Folly Beach may need to start planning ahead after a recent vote capping the number of short-term rental properties on the barrier island.

Folly Beach residents voted “yes” on Tuesday to enact a cap on short-term rentals at 800 units.

The results came in 656-579. The vote is expected to change the course of Folly rentals, similar to what’s happening statewide as cities and counties react to an increase in short-term rentals.

Folly Beach residents have been divided for years on whether to cap short-term rentals.

The beaches of Charleston, including Folly, are largely responsible for the masses of tourists that visit the area each year.

Folly is a popular destination for Upstate, Midlands and Lowcountry folks looking for a weekend escape on the six-mile stretch of a barrier island.

“Tourism, in general, is crucial to Folly,” said Vince Perna, a sign-carrying Folly resident who encouraged people to vote “no” the morning of the vote.

Folly is not the first to see a change in rules and regulations.

The Town of Mount Pleasant capped short-term rental permits at 414 for 2023, half as many as Folly.

The City of North Charleston allows eight guests maximum at any rental, while the city of Charleston allows only four adults at a time in a short-term rental.

The South Carolina Policy Council, an unaffiliated think tank, studied short-term rentals across the state during the summer of 2022.

Folly Beach was included as a “positive example of short-term rental policy,” according to the study.

“The kind of general messaging that we’ve been trying to push to some municipalities is actually to look at the specific problem that your municipality has, and make regulations accordingly,” said Bryce Fielder, senior policy analyst for the Policy Council.

Some residents of Folly and surrounding areas had been campaigning on either side long before the Feb. 7 vote.

Yard signs were scattered across Folly and parts of James Island in support of either “Folly United” or “Save Folly’s Future.”

Before the vote, Folly real estate agent Carrie Rosen wanted the short-term rental cap to be greater than 800.

“If we start a cap north of the amount we have right now, I think we would be able to agree a lot more,” Rosen said. “We wouldn’t have such a divide.”

Rosen helped organize “Folly United,” which argued the cap on short-term rentals hadn’t been fully thought through and feared it would impact Folly’s businesses, taxes and property values.

The other side of the vote was “Save Folly’s Future.”

Its successful mission was to “save a disappearing community and way of life by reversing the island’s population decline,” as said on its website.

A group of residents about a year ago banded together to help create the Folly Beach Residents Association, which supported “Save Folly’s Future.”

The residents association was looking for a compromise, said Ann Peets, who helped the association with its marketing and communications.

“We’re not trying to push people off the island,” Peets said. “It’s a tourist island – everybody gets that. We’re really working together to strive for community balance and quality of life.”

Even though Folly residents have voted “yes” to limiting the number of short-term rentals, that doesn’t mean the issue is settled.

The 1,157 short-term rental licenses held can remain in use until there’s a change of ownership for those properties.

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