MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The future use for a parcel of land along Highway 17 Bypass has not been determined, and residents in surrounding neighborhoods are concerned.
A meeting for the possible rezoning of the land, near Southwood neighborhood, is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Horry County Government and Justice Center at 1301 Second Avenue.
We're going to see new shops along Highway 17 in the next few years. WMBF News told you last week that the Wicked Stick golf course is up for sale and has pending contracts on parts of the property to put those shops in. But neighbors are still concerned with how it's to be zoned, so they are presenting a petition to the commission Thursday night. Nearly 300 neighbors have signed it, saying they're not happy with how the county wants to zone the land.
The golf course is split into three main sections for zoning purposes. Two of those are zoned as residential and have pending contracts right now. But the third parcel is what's in question. It's about 35 acres up front near Highway 17, but still comes very close to the neighborhood. Right now it is zoned as "highway commercial." That zoning designation actually no longer exists. So in order to sell that land, the county needs to rezone it.
Many neighbors aren't happy. One big reason is that those people living near the golf course paid high premiums for those spots. Those concerned say they're worried about how this could drastically change their quiet neighborhoods.
"There is a sign down there that says no thru traffic, but if you come in off 544 entrance you'll see numerous cars that use it as a cut through now," says Lou Krieger, a Southwood resident. "If they change this into a high bulk retail district, they put a big box store there like a Publix or a Sam's Club or something like that, traffic is just going to be crazier."
Krieger is spearheading the petition and will be presenting at Thursday's county planning and zoning meeting. He says that they're contesting two things. First, there is approximately seven acres of land that back in 2007 was zoned only to be used for residential building. The county now wants to include those 7 acres into the lump of 35 acres to be sold for high commercial property.
Second, neighbors don't want a big box store in their backyards. So they're proposing the county rezone the land as RE1 instead of RE4. That way it will instead be used for residential, office and retail space.
A promise was made, according to these neighbors, that the land near their homes would only be zoned for residential purposes. Krieger says the residents are all for development, they just want to make sure it's the right kind of development for the area. If you look across the bypass you'll see existing stores and restaurants like Bonefish Grill, Lincoln Park, Starbucks, and much more. Those are the kind of neighborhood-friendly businesses they say they want and would gladly welcome, not a big retail store or shopping complex.
"In fact, Horry County in their code of ordinances even has an explanation in there that says that there are not to be any RE4 bulk retail district adjacent to a residential community. So they're going against their own guidelines," says Krieger.
When it comes down to it, once the property is zoned and sold, you're going to see new development along Highway 17 instead of Wicked Stick, which has been there since 1995. It's just a matter of what kind of development we could see. And that's what these Southwood neighbors are hoping they can negotiate with the county.