FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) – The debate on the legality of how the short-term rental cap on Folly Beach was put into place continues.
A lawsuit filed nearly one year ago claims short-term rentals cannot be capped by referendum.
Both the Plaintiff, Folly East Indian Company, and the defendants, Save Folly’s Future, and the City of Folly Beach, presented their case in front of Judge Paul M. Burch on Friday.
“They’re basically taking away our property rights to be able to use your property as you see fit,” Folly Beach builder Michael Riffert says, who filed the lawsuit through Folly East Indian Company.
Riffert built two homes on the island, designed to be sold as short-term rentals.
“I’ve lost that opportunity, the purchasers have lost that opportunity, because if they purchase them from me, they cannot obtain a business license, nor can they rent it as a short-term rental,” he says.
Residents voted to cap short-term rental licenses at 800 via referendum in February, with only 78 votes separating the debate.
“You’re talking about a popular vote that barely squeaks by and is now affecting the financial future of a lot of people,” Folly East Indian Company Attorney, Bijan Ghom, says.
The referendum was the only way residents could have their voices heard, the attorney for Save Folly’s Future, Robert M. Turkewitz says.
“Their voices were heard, that’s what democracy is all about, and they passed it,” Turkewitz says.
He says a referendum is a proper process for capping short-term rentals.
“We have equity on our side, we have the citizens on our side, and the residents have spoken,” Turkewitz says.
On Friday, Judge Burch asked both parties to draft an order or proposed decision. In 10 days, he’s set to review both orders and make his decision.
The City of Folly Beach says they have no comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
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