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2010-UP-551 - Singleton Place HOA v. Town of Hilton Head Island

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Singleton Place Homeowners Association, Inc., Eugene J. Laurich, and Debra C. Laurich, Appellants,

v.

The Town of Hilton Head Island and The Town of Hilton Head Island Board of Zoning Appeals, Defendants,

of whom The Town of Hilton Head Island is Respondent.


Appeal From Beaufort County
 Marvin H. Dukes, III, Master-in-Equity


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-551
Submitted December 9, 2010 – Filed December 21, 2010   


AFFIRMED


G. Hamlin O'Kelley, III and Gray B. Taylor, both of Mt. Pleasant, for Appellants.

Gregory M. Alford, of Hilton Head Island, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Appellants, Singleton Place Homeowners Association, Inc., Eugene J. Laurich, and Debra C. Laurich, brought this declaratory judgment action against Respondent, the Town of Hilton Head Island (the Town), and against the Town's Board of Zoning Appeals, seeking a ruling that the Town's proposed use of its easement along Collier Beach Road is unreasonable and creates a material burden on the servient estate.  The case was referred to the master-in-equity, who concluded that the easement was not limited in scope and that Appellants were not entitled to the requested declaratory judgment.  Appellants seek review of this ruling.  We affirm.[1] 

Initially, we note that Appellants did not seek review of the master's ruling that they were barred by the doctrine of estoppel by deed.  Accordingly, we may affirm on this ground alone.  See Jones v. Lott, 387 S.C. 339, 346, 692 S.E.2d 900, 903 (2010) ("Under the two issue rule, where a decision is based on more than one ground, the appellate court will affirm unless the appellant appeals all grounds because the unappealed ground will become the law of the case.").

In any event, the evidence in the record weighs heavily in favor of the reasonableness of the Town's proposed use of its easement.  The testimony shows that Collier Beach Park will generate a much lower traffic intensity than would a single family development in an "RM-8" residential building district for which Collier Beach Park was zoned when the Town purchased it.  Therefore, Appellants' argument that the easement did not contemplate the proposed increase in use must fail.  See Hill v. Carolina Power & Light Co., 204 S.C. 83, 96, 28 S.E.2d 545, 549 (1943) ("The unrestricted grant of an easement conveys all such rights as are incident or necessary to its reasonable and proper enjoyment."); Plott v. Justin Enters., 374 S.C. 504, 514, 649 S.E.2d 92, 96 (Ct. App. 2007) (holding that the character of an express easement is determined by the nature of the right and the intention of the parties creating it). 

Likewise, we find no merit to Appellants' argument that the master implicitly recognized that the easement did not contemplate the proposed increase in use when he ordered the Town to pay seventy-five percent of the costs of maintaining the paved surface.  See Hayes v. Tompkins, 287 S.C. 289, 294, 337 S.E.2d 888, 891 (Ct. App. 1985) ("Ordinarily, the owner of an easement has the duty to keep it in repair.").  Therefore, the master properly declined to find an unreasonable burden on the servient estate.

AFFIRMED.

THOMAS, PIEPER, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.