The following information is provided by The Horry Planner: The Quarterly Electronic Newsletter of the Horry County Planning and Zoning Department.
In reality there is no one straight forward answer because it depends on many factors.
When a person is looking to open a commercial enterprise on any piece of property, the first questions the Planning and Zoning Department will want the answers to are;
"What is the current zoning?", and "What does the applicant want to put on the property?"
If the current zoning is not appropriate for the type of proposed use then the applicant has two choices; find a different parcel that is zoned correctly or try to rezone the current parcel.
To rezone a parcel it will take from 90 to 120 days and will be reviewed by more than one governing authority. The first thing the applicant will need to do is fill out a rezoning application and pay the fee of $250. Planning and Zoning will give the applicant a recommendation as to what zoning they feel will best suit the need at the time of the application.
However, this does not mean that Planning and Zoning will support the request.
The Department will post a rezoning notice on the lot, research the area, look at area plans, allow input from neighbors and staff members, and then make a determination as to recommend or not. From here the rezoning request goes to the Planning Commission for two meetings. The first meeting is a workshop, where Planning will present the request and express any concerns they have with the rezoning.
Planning Commission will ask the applicant or their representative any questions they may have. Although this meeting is open to the public, there is no public input.
At the second meeting, Planning will give their recommendation for approval or disapproval and public input will also be allowed.
At either meeting the Commission has the right to defer, table, recommend to move forward or disapprove the request. If the Planning Commission recommends the rezoning request the next step will be three readings at County Council.
County Council generally meets two times a month. At the first meeting Council may or may not ask questions of the applicant. The second meeting will allow public input , and the third meeting County Council approves or disapproves the re-zoning request. Or maybe not, County Council can also table or defer the application anywhere in the process.
If an application is tabled or deferred somewhere in the process, it can add an unknown amount of time to the rezoning procedure. If County Council disapproves the rezoning request an applicant may try to rezone again after one year. But a rezoning is only part of the process. Even if a rezoning goes through the planning process is not complete; other
reviews will still be needed.
The reviews can run concurrently, but each parcel is different and faces unique circumstances. The decision of when to apply for what review is best talked through with a planner, so the applicant understands what all the issues are.