Amendment to special events permit ordinance could allow Horry County fair

Amendment to special events permit ordinance could allow Horry County fair

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – If an outside event is occurring in Horry County, it's only lasting seven days. And that's because of the current zoning ordinance. But locals have rallied together for an amendment to that ordinance and it's heading to county council.

The amendment would be a provision to allow the zoning board of appeals board to review the process and grant it as a special exception. Currently Horry County has a provision for special events, or events happening outside. These events are issued permits but only for a maximum of seven days. Over the last couple of months the county has gotten requests for a county fair to be held outside of the seven days, but falls out of the permit's statutes that were set by the county. County officials says that they county get approached by less than a dozen companies a year about the special exceptions.

"This is an option that would help some of those seasonal events where we get requests to do a month long event, like haunted trails coming up on the Halloween season, or even a haunted house," said Lisa Bourcier, Horry County Public Information Officer.

Earlier in the year Steve Zacharias, General Manager of Myrtle Beach Speedway, attempted to host a county fair. His idea was shut down because of the lack of time in the special event permits, which is seven days. He says they would lose money… from the amount of time that it would take the attractions to set up at the speedway then only having one weekend to be open. He says that he's attended as many council meeting as can to try to find the best and most productive way to make this ordinance work.

He says that he grew up going to fairs and wants his children to have that same experience. But it takes about a week to get just a Ferris wheel up and inspected, which would not be enough time under the special permit ordinance.

"We've been held because of this special event permit and bike week," said Zacharias. "I've tried to explain numerous times that we are not bike week, we are not trying to have a bike week event. We are trying to have a family friendly event. That goes for these haunted houses and Christmas villages. I think it benefits the community."

Zacharias says this is something he wants to do for the actual people of Myrtle Beach after the tourist season. He also says that he's gotten a large amount of support on Facebook from people interested in the fair. And He hopes that after October 6th, they can move forward and begin planning for the Horry County fair.

Bourcier says that board is pretty conservative, but they definitely have the interest of the public in mind when they grant any special exceptions. They want to see how it will impact any neighboring communities. The board can also put provisions on the events, like hours of operation, they can review site plans, traffic management plans, safety plans.

This amendment has been approved by the infrastructure and regulation committee and also the planning commission. County council will hear the first reading of the ordinance to amend it on October 6th, takes three reading before a vote can be made.

The intent of the amendment is not to extend the bike rallies. The rallies have their own zoning ordinance when it comes to vending permits, for people selling goods and services. Which are regulated under different ordinances. This amendment would be for outdoor events beyond the seven day special event permit. Events like fairs and corn mazes don't have vendors that come sell goods. Whereas the bikers have 20-30 vendors that set up a site location and are selling things like motorcycle equipment, the have food, and can have outdoor bands. The most the county gives out a vending permit for, is seven days.

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