Horry County, SC - Council members were busy in Horry County Tuesday night. Dozens of people filled the seats of council chambers to hear about one topic, the status of International Drive.
It's a project that's been in the works for years, and officials say it could still be stalled for years to come. That's because of special interest groups like the Coastal Conservation League
and Southern Environmental Law, who continue to protest the plan.
Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was frustrated as he described the meeting he had with the groups on Monday. This is a battle he, along with many people living in Carolina Forest and surrounding areas, have been fighting for years.
This is despite review by DHEC who has stood behind the recommendations for this project and moved ahead with issuing a permit.
At this point, those against the construction have until August 29 to file another protest, and that's something many residents are disappointed to hear.
"We're disgusted. We really thought that Monday's meeting would have been a turn of events but obviously the conservationists came in with a very different agenda," Felicia Soto said. "They're just delaying, delaying, and delaying but you know what...we're going to get this project done, and we're confident. We support our council and they support us."
This fight could go all the way to the state supreme court if a compromise is not made. For now though, it's just a waiting game.
Also on the agenda Tuesday night, council members approved a long-term plan to move one of the county's fire stations.
Within the agreement, the land Station 23 sits on will be sold to Horry Georgetown Technical College.
But for now, the station would be allowed to stay on site for another three years.
That will give the county enough time to find a new location.
Officials say they are looking at a number of properties close to highway 544. For those living in the area selected for the site of the new station, they could see lower insurance rates.
Council members are using tools already in Horry county to develop business.
They approved a lease agreement for some 14 miles of railroad running through our part of the state.
Officials say it's a multi-state deal between Marion and Horry counties in South Carolina and Brunswick and Columbus counties in North Carolina.
"We've got new companies wanting to locate here along our rail line once it gets up and running. So it's going to be a good opportunity for Horry County," Lazarus said.
There's still a ways to go before those tracks can be used. They will have to undergo a few upgrades and maintenance that will be paid for by the railway group on the lease.
And in that same tone of building the local economy, council members also approved a tax break for a company that brings in major jobs for our area.
The decision will set a tax rate for a 20 year period for Accent USA Assets.
It will go on equipment and a new building they are working to construct.
It's an incentive for the company to keep bringing in high paying jobs to our area.