Georgetown businesses face fines after decades-old boat landing law enforced

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 8:35 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WMBF) - A decades-old law in Georgetown County bans commercial activity, such as boat tours and fishing guides from using public boat landings.

Georgetown County Public Information Officer, Cindy Thompson said the rule had never been enforced until a recent situation with a large boat tour guide.

“This particular business had no business license, had no liability insurance was using public property as her address for her business,” said Thompson.

Now several members of the boating community are upset because many of them said they always use boat ramps and docks for their small businesses.

Owner and Operator, Wayne Hardee knew about the law but still decided to open Sweet Gig Charters four years ago. He said he uses public boat ramps often, but now Hardee could face fines.

“Now they’re just ticketing charter captains who are just using it to chart,” said Hardee.

Hardee said he understands large passenger boats not being allowed to use smaller public ramps, but his boat can only take six people at a time and he is fast when loading.

“I don’t impede the boat ramps,” said Hardee. “I’m there, less than 15 minutes and I’m gone. Throughout the whole trip.”

While the enforcement of this law will stop large boats from blocking smaller docks and boat ramps, Hardee says it will also hurt more than just his business.

“Not only is it affecting me, it’s affecting the community,” said Hardee. “The amount of fuel we burn, the tackle shops the restaurants that we refer.”

Several local captains have received tickets and want the law amended to allow smaller operations to keep using public ramps.

Thompson said they are exploring options but have never had an issue before.

“We’ve not ever experienced any major trouble with that ordinance until this boat,” said Thompson. “This tour guide boat started to use the docks for commercial purposes.”

The law has been brought up at county council meetings, but no changes have yet been made.