Myrtle Beach council to discuss proposed amusement park at 1:30 p.m. meeting

Myrtle Beach council to discuss proposed amusement park at 1:30 p.m. meeting
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A public input meeting for the proposed amusement park is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Myrtle Beach city leaders said they are expecting a big crowd at the city council meeting.

The proposal calls to turn the Shrine Club property on Highway 17 to into a new amusement site, “The Track.”

Nearby neighbors have strongly voiced their disapproval for the plan to WMBF News. They're expected to speak against the proposal to city leaders Wednesday.

“I don't believe anybody in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods like Myrtle Beach Manor is for the proposed amusement park site its not gonna add a whole lot to the area,” said Beth Branch-Howell, who lives in Dunes Cove.

Concerns varied from traffic issues to more noise.

The President of the Horry Shrine Club, Mark Wilson, says a lot of thought has gone into who they will lease this land to. They had different inquiries from a dollar store to this amusement park proposal. The Shriners feel the amusement company would be one that would bring longevity.

While most of the neighbors WMBF News spoke to are still against this proposal, one is looking at it from a business standpoint, bringing more jobs and revenue to the area.

"I'm generally for business and anything that brings jobs so and the area that it's in is pretty much commercial business now, so I don't think its gonna be any different than another restaurant there,” said neighbor Bart Buie, “I'm not concerned.”

Efforts have been made to appease many of those who say the park is a bad idea.

The amusement park company is scheduled to present at the meeting, including a sound assessment. Researchers tested noise in three spots - behind the Shrine Building near the Intracoastal Waterway, in the neighborhood across Highway 17 and a Dunes home behind the site. Researchers used the kinds of sound that would come from a go-cart track to measure the noise impact on the surrounding community. They found homes across Kings Highway on Charleston Court will be the most affected by increased noise. The study mentions this noise there possibly being above the city's limits; however, that sound is not much different from what those folks are already dealing with.

“It showed that the traffic volume on Business 17 is greater than the sound that would come from the park to the Dunes community,” said Wilson.

For the areas most affected by the added noise, the researchers recommend adding walls around the go-kart tracks, as sound barriers. Myrtle Manor Retirement home already has a barrier from noise, it's the Best Western, next door.

The proposal also includes a letter from the Mayor of Destin, Florida - about how a similar park in their city, has been beneficial to creating more jobs and business in its 25 years.

Also, a letter from the Alabama and Tennessee locations - all addressing the positive impact on tourism has been submitted.

A letter from SCDOT addressing its location on the high-volume, seven lanes of US-17 is planned to be presented.

While a traffic flow pattern was not yet performed, SCDOT says the expected 745 drivers along the site daily would not be a significant increase to traffic, especially since many of them are already traveling the route.

Shrine Club members said they think it will bring more jobs, tax revenue and will be a place that will stick around for years; to look at the big picture. Members said they see it as a win for the children in need and in the area, which is what they do as shriners.

The Shriners said they would only lease the property, and would use the space for meetings. The money they get from the lease will go to the Greenville Hospital and local charities, all in the contract they put together with the company that will develop “The Track.”

"I just hope everybody listens to them before they mark it down as gone because I think it would be a great asset,” Wilson said.

City planners say there are a lot of misconceptions with this proposal. The first being if this land falls in the city or county. It is in fact considered in the city, and has been for over a decade.

Another talker is if we need another amusement park. Many people are bringing up Freestyle Music Park, which is in the county. City leaders say Myrtle Beach has a long history of successful amusements. Family Kingdom for example, began in 1966.

Another big question the Planning Commission is hearing is, “Why can't they think of something else to build here?”

“The Planning Commission does not own land, including the Shrine Club property,” said city planner Alison Hardin, “ The Planning Commission did not choose the plan for the Shrine Club property, the applicant developed the plan.”

Therefore, proper procedure is necessary. City planners say they may not "dismiss" an application. A public hearing is required before changing zoning, by state law. Even if the Planning Commission recommends against a petition, the applicant may go forward to the City Council.  From there city council has to go through two readings before any final decisions can be made.

City leaders expect a big crowd at the meeting, at the Ted Collins Law Enforcement center. Overflow parking is available across the street from the LEC at the Farmers Market, at City Services and at City Hall.  
Reporter Lisa Gresci is scheduled to attend the meeting. Tune in to WMBF News this evening for the reports.

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