Myrtle Beach City Council discusses Five Points, Howard Avenue, - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach City Council discusses Five Points, Howard Avenue, homelessness

Source: Amy Lipman Source: Amy Lipman

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach City Council members decided to push back a vote to give existing business owners in the Five Points area more time to understand the ordinance.

The ordinance calls for a moratorium on the issuance of business licenses to nightclubs and bars with a capacity of more than 150 people in the "Super Block," or Five Points section of Myrtle Beach.

That would stop new nightlife businesses from making the area home until the city's planning commission can do a study on how the Five Points area should be used.

The ordinance passed first reading and it was up for final reading Tuesday afternoon.

However, during Tuesday morning's City Council workshop, Attorney Paul Young spoke about how it's unfair to the current club owners who won't be able to sell their businesses to other nightclubs and bars with this in place.

Patrick Brody, an agent for a Five Points business, echoed that feeling. 

He told council he thinks people are at a greater risk of harm in other areas of Myrtle Beach.

He said even the businesses that don't service the nightlife benefit from nightclubs and bars economically.

Brody also complained about business owners not receiving notice of this ordinance, so city council decided to push back the final vote until the meeting on December 8 even though the city is under no legal obligation to notify business owners individually of this ordinance.

Council did take action on an ordinance to add a mid-block crosswalk on Howard Avenue between Hackler and Iris Streets, an addition council members hope will give businesses more foot traffic.

During Tuesday morning's city council workshop, the owner of Barking Fish Yogurt Company, Becky Ruland, talked about how a crosswalk would be helpful for the business owners on Howard Avenue.

She said she constantly watches people struggle to cross the street because there are bushes and trees on the block making it difficult for pedestrians to see. Plus, she said the overall business environment is difficult.

"As a small business owner, it has been a struggle to exist and I've seen other merchants come in and go out," Ruland said. "Some closing within a year."

Myrtle Beach's Assistant City Manager Ron Andrews said the crosswalk isn't necessary from the city's viewpoint, but he told council the project can be done in house without costing the city much money. He said it will only take away two parking spaces.

City council members approved the crosswalk.

Andrews said the city can start on the project as soon as the area dries out from the recent rainfall.

Homelessness was not on the agenda, but the topic took up discussion time during both the morning and afternoon council meetings.

St. Philip Lutheran Church members are looking to get a fire code changed that currently doesn't allow people to sleep in buildings not originally intended for sleeping.

The church members call themselves Citizens Concerned for the Homeless of Myrtle Beach.

They proposed the city change the wording of the fire code to exclude houses of worship. 

They said members of St. Philip Lutheran Church and Sun Coast Christian Church were cited last year for violating fire code after taking in homeless people on below freezing nights.

"This past winter, 2014-15, there were over 28 nights when it was a Code Blue emergency, so at least 28 nights when the temperature was at or below freezing," said Shanna Morascini, a member of Citizens Concerned for the Homeless of Myrtle Beach.

However, the city attorney said Myrtle Beach's fire code comes down from the South Carolina General Assembly, so it can't be changed locally.

Former New Directions Board Member and now Myrtle Beach City Council Elect Mary Jeffcoat said Street Reach will take in anyone on Code Blue nights. 

People do not have to commit to the shelter's program on those days and Jeffcoat said New Directions is expanding, so Street Reach will be able to accommodate more people.

Councilman Wayne Gray asked the city to evaluate Street Reach's capacity. If the shelter can't hold enough people, the city can appoint a specific building for overflow.

The group members said they're hoping to partner with the city to work on this problem. The mayor told them the city is going to review the issue.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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