Advocacy SCDOT Press Release



South Carolina Landscape Architects Work with State Legislators and SCDOT to Clarify Permit Applications.

February 10, 2020

The South Carolina chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (SCASLA), with the incredibly valuable help of South Carolina State House of Representative Kirkman Finlay, III and ASLA member Kenneth B. Simmons, FASLA, worked tirelessly with South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to expand the acceptance of encroachment permits. This new memorandum notes that SCDOT will now accept “roadway design elements that are signed and sealed by Registered Landscape Architects (“RLA’s”) as part of encroachment permit applications.” This went into effect on January 15th, 2020.

Kenneth B. Simmons, FASLA, owner of the Columbia based firm Kenneth B. Simmons Associates (KBS), LLC., spearheaded the efforts to permanently expand the scope of services of landscape architects accepted by SCDOT. As a portion of KBS’s normal landscape architectural services, the firm had routinely applied for SCDOT encroachment permits. In 2017, a permit application was denied purely on the basis it was submitted by a registered landscape architect and not a professional engineer. SCDOT acknowledged all other requirements had been met for permit approval. The firm had not been notified of SCDOT’s internal policy change. Once aware, the firm contacted the SC Board of Landscape Architectural Examiners for assistance and a formal interpretation of statute section 40‐28‐20. The Board responded stating the firm’s interpretation of the law was correct, landscape architects could complete the design criteria required of encroachment permits. However, the Board further stated, “it is not within the South Carolina Board of Landscape Architectural Examiners’ authority to mandate what SCDOT can or cannot accept within their own requirements.” At this point the firm contacted the Executive committee of SCASLA. SCASLA was supportive of the issue and supplied a letter to SCDOT explaining the statue and the rights it provided our states licensed professionals. SCDOT’s stance went unchanged.

Based on Ken Simmons experience being instrumental in obtaining licensure for landscape architects in South Carolina, he called on his friend SC Representative Kirkman Finlay. KBS has provided landscape architectural services for Representative Finlay for decades. Because of this experience, Representative Finlay knew the value of a landscape architects’ services and why it was important landscape architect be able to practice to the full extent allowed by South Carolina law. Because of Ken’s personal and professional relationship, Representative Finlay agreed to take on this important issue.  After two years of negotiations and multiple meetings between Representative Finlay, Ken Simmons, SCASLA Advocacy Chair Drew Cheatham, and SCDOT personnel, the SCDOT issued a memorandum to all permit engineers stating they would once again accept permit applications signed and sealed by registered landscape architects. SCASLA knows this acceptance will lead to more landscape architects taking leading roles on design and permitting projects. SCASLA encourages all members to contact their local and state representatives to educate our law makers on how landscape architect’s projects protect the health, safety, and welfare of the general public.

If you’d like to learn more about landscape architecture please visit #ASLA.

About the American Society of Landscape Architects

Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing almost 15,000 members in 49 professional chapters, representing all 50 states, U.S. territories, and 59 countries around the world, and 82 student chapters. Member of the Society use “ASLA” after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Landscape architects lead the planning, design, and stewardship of our built and natural environments. The Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education, and fellowship.

Contact Information

Clint McHenry, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP

SCASLA Public Relations Chair,

M: 304-701-0054