North Myrtle Beach residents file dozens of objections to dredging project

North Myrtle Beach residents file dozens of objections to dredging project

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Cherry Grove Dredging Project is one of the most talked about topics in North Myrtle Beach and the conversation continued at a city council workshop.

The city is moving forward with the project, but before that happens, council is taking objections from the property owners into consideration in order to finalize the plans.

Of the 700 property owners, the city collected 190 written objections in July.

Consultants studied the comments, placed them into categories, and presented them to council on Wednesday.

A common complaint had to do with the dredge width which is 24 feet wide by requirement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Another major concern surrounded money, including the cost to the property owner, which is a maximum of $2,400 per year for 10 years, and the city's plan to contribute $1.6 million.

Council said the financial discussion will continue in depth in the spring when they get a better idea of the cost of the project. Right now, it's estimated to be a little over a half a million dollars.

"In my opinion I think North Myrtle Beach ought to pay a lot more for this project than they're paying for," homeowner Ron Loflin said.

Despite the cost, Loflin supports the dredging project.

"It will help our property value, it will bring more people here, I think it will just be good for North Myrtle Beach," he said.

Michael Willoughby also feels it will put more boats on the water and bring an economic boost to the area.

"We just used to be able to put boats out here, and even make it out to the waterway," Willoughby said. "We just can't do that now."

Objections brought forward to council were to more specific areas of the community.

"Some residents of the Fisherman's Wharf condominium complex indicated they did not need the dredge because they can build a dock into the main channel," said City of North Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Pat Dowling.

Other homeowners have concerns about property that can't be developed.

Council is also looking at whether or not to remove the "Z" canal from the district, which is the northernmost section.

"People in condos and homes there feel they won't get any benefit of the dredge because it won't last, they have a bulkhead on one side but they have basically beach on the other side and they feel it will just cave in sooner than later." Dowling said.

Dowling said if the city votes to remove anyone from the assessment district - for the simple reason it wouldn't benefit them - additional costs would fall on the city, not the homeowner.

City leaders feel if we don't dredge now, we will pay for it later.

"Right now at low tide, the channels are not navigable, if you allow them to continue to silt in you're gonna get more marsh grass, you're gonna get more oyster beds," Dowling said. "It's gonna be harder and harder to convince the army corps of engineers and eventually SCDHEC that dredging is something they wanna do in that kind of environment."

After the meeting Wednesday, council discussed potential litigation that may result from moving forward with the project, but no action was taken.

Council will digest all of these objections, and the first opportunity to vote will be Monday, December 7, at the city council meeting. The second reading is expected the following week.

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