Council members to discuss dredging project in Cherry Grove

Council members to discuss dredging project in Cherry Grove

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - North Myrtle Beach leaders continued ongoing discussions about dredging Cherry Grove canals Monday.

The canals in Cherry Grove were dredged in the 1950's, when they were created from marshlands, and they have not been dredged since then.

Property owners over the last decade have approached the City of North Myrtle Beach to coordinate a project that would dredge the canals so that at low tide there would be about  three feet of water they could use to navigate in.  At low tide, homeowners will use the finger canals to get to the channel going to the ocean, but now there's not enough water to travel in them. The city's two-part project includes two dredges over ten years and a cost of $16 million. The problem is, a big chunk of the cost is on the shoulders of property owners.

There are about 700 homes in a proposed special assessment tax district, and each year for up to ten years, each homeowner will pay up to $2,400 to fund the project.

The current elected city council will decide now whether to implement a $6.3 million bond, and pay $800,000 of it. So, the homeowners would be responsible for $5.5 million.

A city council five to six years from now will decide whether or not to do a maintenance dredge, which would cost about the same. The same homes would be affected in both dredges.

The city knows property owners are less than pleased about footing the bill, but says they could see up to a 40 percent increase in property value.

There may be some confusion when it comes to the dredging project, though, which could cost homeowners a lot more than they thought.  The city's plan doesn't include dredging to homeowners' property lines and docks, which some people may not know. It only includes dredging the canals themselves.

Monday, city council will hear the pros and cons of allowing the property owners to contract with the city's dredging company. The work would take place while the project is actually going on. The current dredging project, will not dredge up to the sea walls- which is the edge of the homeowners' properties.

The canals themselves will be clear and easy to navigate when the dredging is finished, but it still won't be as easy to get from homeowners' docks to the canals. So homeowners would have to hire a private contractor, adding to the steep price they're already expected to pay.

So today, the city will discuss letting homeowners piggyback off the city dredge work as it moves in front of their properties.

It would still be a private deal between the property owner and the contractor, but they could get it all done at once, and possibly get a discount.

"From the city's point of view, the workshop is to get some legal advice," explains City of NMB Spokesperson Pat Dowling. "Whether or not this is good for the city in terms of its liability. Whether or not it would impact its relationship with the eventual bond holders for the bond issue that's floated."

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