05/21/2014 - HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County leaders call on property owners to clean up around their businesses.
These properties are called "donut holes", because they are surrounded by Myrtle Beach city limits but are technically the county's jurisdiction. Many of the owners are not from the area and do not know what condition their properties are in or trespassers that may be living there.
After businesses that surround some of the properties signed a petition, the county sent out a four-page letter to nine property owners telling them they are in violation of a county ordinance aimed at keeping properties cleaned up.
The ordinance states no person shall permit their property to serve as a breeding place for mosquitos, refuge for rats and snakes, as a collective place for trash or litter or become a fire hazard.
One local business, Quality Towing says they have seen homeless people lighting fires in the property located behind them. This is a huge concern for them because they have a lot of gasoline in their lots.
Horry County Spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier explains the troubles that come along with unkept and abandoned property.
"It does breed all types of nuisance. There is crime and several encampments on these properties as well," Bourcier said.
The ordinance also states weeds and brush should not be more than 12 inches high. Many of these property owners do not live in the area and wouldn't know if people were living on their land.
"A lot of the encampments are out of sight. They go into areas where you can't see them," Bourcier explained.
New Directions is an organization that helps people who are homeless start over. They say Myrtle Beach sees a lot of homeless people because of the year round warm weather.
"People need to understand that they can't make their home on someone else's property and that there are options for them," said Kathy Jenkins, with New Directions.
If the property owners do not clean up, it will be in the hands of the county but at the expense of their wallet.
"The county can take action and actually go on to the property ... do the cleaning that's needed and then charge back the property owners," Bourcier explained.
These violation letters give the property owners 30 days to clean up before they are charged.