Debate on bike rally logistics heats up in Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF)  Local leaders took a big first step toward changing the length of bike week in the Grand Strand Tuesday night.

Horry County Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would trim down the spring and fall bike rallies from seven to five days.

Rally supporters like George Helliwell, of Murrells Inlet, says he wonders if there is a hidden agenda behind the proposed ordinance.

"It just seems they want to scare away people more than they want them to come," he commented.

WMBF News asked Horry County Chairman Tom Rice whether or not the proposed ordinance is the county's way of driving out the rally. He said no.

"It doesn't matter of they come on two wheels, four wheels, six wheels, 18 wheels, boat or plane," Rice said. "It doesn't matter. We hope they come. The motorcycle rallies are just very obtrusive on all the community."

County Councilman Harold Worley voiced the sentiment of several councilman that the ordinance would punish the majority for the actions of a few.

"I can't support this bill because it's just so unfair," Worley said.

Councilman Gary Loftus, however, favors a shortened rally, but said changes such as lowering the price of vendor permits need to be considered.  Vendor permits currently cost 800 dollars for a seven day event, but the proposed ordinance to shorten the rally does not include language regarding a reduced price for a shorter event.

"I think that the 5 day rally is not that bad," Loftus explained.  "If we can tweak it or modify it a little bit."

Even if the rally is cut two days short each spring and fall, Denise Medlin, of Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson, says planning for the company's biker events is going on as usual.

"We're doing 85,000 impressions a month to get people to town," she explained. "Small businesses are coming to us. It's so exciting they want to be a part of it and bring in the tourists."

Horry County Council must approve three readings of the ordinance for it to become official. Last year, 83 vendors set up for the Harley Bike Rally.

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for March 13th and, if approved on second reading, a third vote could occur on April 3rd.

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