Residents worry about end to county assistance

Conway, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The decision by Horry County Council to stop providing one-time improvements on private roads in the county has left some people worried about what they'll do next.

Kimberly Drive off Highway 544 near Coastal Carolina University was one of the private roads slated for assistance from the county, but the work was canceled because of council's vote.

Ashley Roberts says she was looking forward to getting a little help from the county to fix Kimberly Drive.

"She said, 'Momma, I sure do wish our road wasn't so bumpy,'" Roberts said about her daughter Elizabeth's recent comments.

Since assistance from the county is not coming anymore, it means any repairs will have to be done by the property owners. Most of the people who live on Kimberly Drive do not own the land, so they are unlikely to pay for the improvements themselves.

"If we were all owners, we could probably get an HOA together or something and have no problem getting together," Roberts said. "My husband, he's talked a lot about what we could do, and it just comes down to money and time. We don't have a lot of either."

The people who live on Kimberly Drive are at the mercy of the property owners, and Robert's father-in-law, Mike Roberts, owns most of the lots on the road.

He said he tried to improve the road. His request is the reason the county originally agreed to help out, but now fixing the road could cost private property owners more than they say they can afford.

Without looking at Kimberly Drive, Keith Mesimer with Paving Services Inc., in Conway estimated it could cost $20,000 to $30,000 to top a quarter mile of the road with asphalt. He said improvements to the road and other private roads in need of repairs could cost up to $40,000 per quarter-mile, depending on the type of work.

"Horry County could have come in. They [have] the equipment, they [have] the asphalt and stuff to come in and fix this road for $5,000 or $6,000," Mike Roberts said. "Whereas I don't have any capabilities."

Roberts says he understands concerns about public money going to private roads, but he says the road should have been taken into the public system years ago. He also thinks the county should reduce taxes on private roads that do not get county assistance.

"We shouldn't pay property tax like everybody else if we're not going to be treated like everybody else," he commented.

County leaders argue the county cannot afford to take over private roads that are not already up to a certain standard. There are also concerns about liability if the county takes over maintenance on roads that do not meet current standards.

They also point out taxes pay for other county services. That includes the other roads driven on by people who live on private roads.

County council members acknowledged the main reason for providing county assistance on private roads was to make them passable for emergency vehicles.

At their meeting Tuesday night, they said if the condition of a road is so bad that fire trucks and ambulances cannot drive down it, the emergency responders will walk to homes if necessary.

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