HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Council members are scheduled to discuss the rezoning for the property of Wicked Stick Golf Links Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The fear of those living in the nearby Southwood neighborhood is that a big-box store could set up shop on part of the land. Southwood butts up against Wicked Stick off 17 Bypass. Two parcels of Wicked Stick's property are already zoned for residential use. The parcel of land still in question is 35 acres zoned as highway commercial – meaning it could be used to develop anything from a big-box store, to a junk yard, to an amusement park. That zoning qualification no longer exists, so the County has to rezone it before it can be sold.
Originally the plan was to zone it as RE4 so it could be used for a big retail store like a Sam's Club. But Southwood residents worry about their property values and the added traffic with that potential change. So the 300 residents signed a petition requesting the zoning be downgraded to RE2 or RE1, which means it could only be used for smaller retail shops or business offices.
"It's in negotiation right now between Councilman Loftus and the owners of Wicked Stick Golf Link," says Lou Krieger, the Southwood resident who started to petition. "The actual latest I heard on there was that we were going to see how gracious they were going to be for the Christmas holiday. The holidays are over and I'm hoping that Councilman Loftus has a gift for us at the council meeting on Tuesday night."
Their petition was overruled late last year, and the county planned to proceed with an RE4 zoning. But then council members started to get a lot letters and e-mails from residents requesting that they come to a compromise. Councilman Gary Loftus says no matter what, someone could be unhappy with Tuesday's first reading. Either the residents will be unhappy that a big-box store could set up shop next to them. Or the golf course owners will be unhappy because they can't sell the property as they wish. But, Loftus also says that no matter what, the neighborhood will be better off. Whether it's zoned RE4 or RE1, they are guaranteed something as obtrusive as a factory won't be able to build there. It can only be used for retail, the debate now is just what kind of retail.
Loftus would say if he and the owners of Wicked Stick actually did come to an agreement to downgrade the zoning. That will be announced Tuesday evening when the amended zoning maps are presented to county council. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. There will 30 minutes at the end for public comment.
Whether the property is zoned for new homes or more shopping, you can plan on hitting more traffic in an already busy area. All that potential extra traffic has the Southwood neighborhood worried. So they're now in talks with the county to try and see if they can reclaim their roads. As it is, they already have a lot of traffic through their neighborhood as drivers try to find shortcuts from 544 to Lowe's or to Walmart. The neighborhood is looking to take back control of their roads from the county and create a gated neighborhood to keep extra commuters out.
"We would just like to cut that traffic out along with any traffic from the future development of the property at Wicked Stick," says Krieger. "That would save our roads and provide us with a safety factor in the community that we don't have so many vehicles driving through, except the vehicles that are supposed to be in there."
The neighborhood would also then be responsible for any maintenance and drainage costs. Their roads were just repaved by the county last year, so if the neighborhood took over, they could potentially not have any major costs for another 10 years.
As it stands, Wicked Stick is still open through May. It is important to note that Wicked Stick is not selling for any negative reasons. In fact, Ryan McCarty, the director of operations at the course, says they are doing quite well. But that it is prime real estate property along Bypass 17.