Horry County leaders set sights on potential gun range

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Officials have been looking across all corners of Horry County for an appropriate spot for a gun range, and now they say they've found it. Horry County staff say the area they've identified is "head and shoulders" above all the other areas across the county.

Five properties all over the county made the final cut, but an unused track of Solid Waste Authority land won the top spot. Staff went over the areas using a grading chart for what will work as a range. The criteria list is based on factors like location, how the land is being used now, how close it is to neighborhoods, and the size of the property.

The Solid Waste Authority land checked out on nearly all fronts: there's more than 1,200 acres of land and it's isolated, so the gunshots would ring far away from homes.

The other properties that ranked next in line are off of Highway 9, the B&C tract off of Highway 319, the city of Conway range off of Highway 905, and the Cool Spring Business Park.

But this is just what Horry County staff recommends, and you will get a chance to voice your opinion.

"We do have to get public input from these locations as well, so it will be a process if we consider to move forward with this," said Horry County Spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier. "We want to make sure that we pick the most suitable site."

Since the land isn't county property, a lease agreement would have to be worked out between the county and the Solid Waste Authority before anything can move forward. County council is doing all the research, but council members have yet to actually say they want this to materialize.

Before residents can see it happening, council has to consider the costs: The Department of Natural Resources has only agreed to pay for 75 percent of the range through a federal grant, but Horry County has to still come up with the remaining 25 percent. The county has to actually build a range and clear the land, so there will be some construction costs. Once the range is built, there will be recurring costs, because staff will have to run the range, and the county will have to fund those salaries.

All this information is being passed around to all the county council members, so they can review it and make a decision on a gun range. They also need to decide where the money will come from. The next Infrastructure and Regulation meeting to go over this is on August 25.

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