HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County Councilman Brent Schulz is introducing a new ordinance to his fellow council members that may help combat the growing problem of abandoned boats along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The new law would levy stiff penalties to people found guilty of abandonment and it would make the county eligible for state and federal grants which could help pay for the removal of the derelict vessels.
"Right now we don't have an ordinance in place that allows us to do anything with the boats at all," explained Schulz who says the county's hands are tied. "We're trying to match what they did in Georgetown, Charleston, and Folly Beach."
Schulz estimates there are over 20 abandoned boats along the Intracoastal Waterway. During the past week the county has removed two vessels with steel hulls, however Schulz says the county is limited in what they can do.
"We've picked up remnants of some of the boats that have a steel hull and we've used them in the reef off of Little River to continue to build the artificial reef," he said. "The problem we have is with fiber glass boats which have to be pulled out and sent to a landfill, not to mention the boats that are tied up in litigation right now."
Under the new ordinance people found guilty of abandonment would face a misdemeanor charge, with fines between ranging between $1000-$5,000 dollars. A violator could also spend up to 30 days in jail and they would be fully responsible for paying for the boat's removal.
Schulz says right now the county does not qualify for outside funding because there are no laws on the books for abandonment. The new law would have to pass three readings before Horry County Council and another reading before the Horry County Public Safety Committee for final approval.