Zoning changes to offer more Market Common style areas

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach is working on the final set of plans, which will impact the city's growth for the next two decades.

For years, city planners have been rewriting zoning codes, and pretty soon, brand new codes will be in place. A lot of zoning progress has already been made in Market Common.

Residents beyond Market Common may ask if the zoning change will really affect their lives, but it does, because zoning affects where and what can be built throughout the city.

A few years ago city leaders agreed it was time to make adjustments to the existing zoning rules. A new plan for zoning was drafted in Myrtle Beach, and city leaders believe the change will address the growing population and local economy.

The idea is to simplify the existing codes and streamline the process of building in the city. Other goals are to promote more pedestrian friendly communities.

When this is all said and done, the city will have gone from 45 different zones, down to 25.

It has been a long process so far, but for those who are directly in the know of what's going on in the City of Myrtle Beach it has a strong impact for what's to come.

"Zoning is what goes where. Zoning determines how the community functions. The idea is to recognize the changes that have occurred over the last 20 to 25 years, but also look to the future and say this is how we want Myrtle Beach to grow. So hopefully it will make it easier for businesses to come to Myrtle Beach," explains City Manager Mark Kruea.

City council has been going through the documents making adjustments along the way. They do hope for a new set of zoning codes by spring of 2013.

The Market Common sits in what planners call a "mixed-use zone." This kind of code allows a combination of things to exist in one given area.

In Market Common you have restaurants, businesses, entertainment, recreation, and housing. This is a concept city officials say has worked very well. The new codes will include more areas throughout the city in "mixed-use zones."

It gives developers and property owners more flexibility. They will be able to do a lot more with their property than they can do now.

For example, an owner can set up a restaurant on the first floor, an office on the second and an apartment on the third. Many of the locals who frequent the Market Common area say they would also like to see more of this kind of community.

"This makes perfect sense. With the cost of fuel rising, with jobs scarce, people can come here and be with their family" says Market Common supporter Pam Datlof.

The city will have a workshop Tuesday morning to go over another set of changes.

"The easier you make it, the better it will be. For everybody, not only for the customers, but also for the merchants that are trying to open up stores here. And you know they're always complaining about it. I was one of them included," admits business owner Joseph Santos.

Once the new zoning codes are in place, you won't see an immediate change, but officials say it will shape myrtle beach for years to come.

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