Horry County votes to ban beach tents

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Council members voted to ban the use of beach tents in unincorporated areas along the beaches in Horry County on Tuesday. The county is responsible for about 14 miles of beaches along the Grand Strand.

Only one council member voted against the third and final reading for the ban. The ban will be permanent and it will be a year-round ban. This vote will affect areas like Garden City beach, and the beach areas near Restaurant Row.

The vote bans beach tents measuring more than 7.5 feet in diameter, year round.

The council was one of the last in the area to make the decision. North Myrtle Beach made the first move towards this decision, by banning tents from May 15 through September 15. The City of Myrtle Beach voted to not allow tents on the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Horry County council members did not think that seasonal bans would work. The County Council Chairman, Mark Lazarus, hopes after this year of education that everyone will be on the same page and switch to their ordinances for a year-round ban.

"If it starts on May the 15th and someone comes out on May the 14 with their tent and then the next day they come out -  'Oh I'm sorry you cant have your tent today because our ordinance started,'" Lazarus said. "I think that's more confusing for the general public and that's why our council decided to make it year-round to make it more consistent."

The City Spokesman of North Myrtle Beach, Patrick Dowling, admits the different dates might cause some confusion.

"The county will have to explain it once: no way, no tents, ever," Dowling said. "We have to explain the seasons we have and why and that gets a little more complicated. "

However, Dowling stands by North Myrtle Beach's ban dates. Tents are banned there from May 15 until September 15. He says it's all spot-specific. North Myrtle Beach has a lot of cottages and condos. He says this brings more families to their area and families wait for their children to get out of school so they end up coming and staying later, while Myrtle Beach sees their beaches busiest from Memorial Day until Labor day.

The county passing this year-round plan also calls for all unincorporated beaches to do the same. That includes Garden City. Garden City connects to Surfside Beach and Surfside has yet to acknowledge the possibility of any beach tent ban. Administrative Assistant of Horry County's Public Safety, Paul Whitten, feels that this will be an educational process, but the differences between beaches should not cause too much of a problem.

"It's a little bit of a difference with the times, but for the most part, everyone's on the same sheet of music and I think that's the whole goal," Whitten said. "I think its much better than it was years ago and it's going to be successful."

Both North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach say their patrol officers are ready for this summer. Whitten says the county's officers are also ready to educate people. He says they know when each week's turnovers are for tourists and that they will be out their early each day.

The three remaining tent-friendly beaches in Horry County are Briarcliffe Acres, Atlantic and Surfside.

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