Planning commission to start study of Five Points

Planning commission to start study of Five Points

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A month after Myrtle Beach City Council passed a temporary ban on nightclubs in Five Points, the Myrtle Beach planning commission is starting up its study on the area that will help the council decide what kind of businesses will make that section of the city successful.

The planning commission heard from a few Five Points business and property owners in a meeting Tuesday, who all said they want to be a hub for downtown Myrtle Beach once again.

"We want to have it just like everybody else in the city and have good commerce and good trade and good activity," said Mike Hobeika, who owns the Cosy Corner property. "We need your help. We need it."

Myrtle Beach City Council already passed a moratorium on business licenses for nightclubs, bars and other businesses planning to permit drinking for more than 150 people, within the Five Points area.

The moratorium lasts for one year to give the planning commission time to study proper usage for the section between 9th Avenue North, Broadway, Highway 501 and Main Street.

Violence during late-night hours prompted the year-long moratorium.

Now, the planning commission will work on an initial report of the background of the city's concerns and the moratorium itself.

The commission will analyze police reports, parking issues, the proximity to the beach and other factors that play into the business environment in Five Points.

"The city ordinance on nuisances, it reads something to the effect that the absence of law-abiding citizens is what creates crime," Hobeika said. "Well, when we lost our parking and we lost our stoplights, we lost the ability for people like you to patronize our area."

The business owners who spoke to the planning commission Tuesday expressed a commitment to doing business in Five Points. Meanwhile, some business owners are moving out, such as McTailor's Alterations & Boutique.

"I'm getting a lot more panhandlers inside my store, not just outside my store, the different possibilities of traffic patterns that could affect my business and close me down, just some of the violence that we've had," said Raymond Heverling.

Heverling opened a branch in Carolina Forest one year ago. After January 15 that will be his only location.

"I've had people tell me they don't want to come down here after a certain time," he said.

Heverling said the problems go far beyond nightclubs and bars. Homelessness, parking issues and the overall business environment is what's driving him out.

Across Oak Street, the Lovely Law Firm is starting to plan a move out to Carolina Forest as well. The law firm employees have seen violence right outside their windows. Justin Lovely said he thinks cutting back on what's open late at night will improve the area.

"That would be a start," Lovely said. "If you get bad people and alcohol, it doesn't mix usually. Especially with what I see in our practice here, those are usually people that are doing something wrong, something bad and that's kind of why we're at where we're at today."

However, Lovely doesn't want to stick around to see what happens.

"Of course, we'll have to build a new office before we can move, so things could change by then, but I doubt it," he said.

At the beginning of 2017, the planning commission will give city council recommendations on the types of businesses that should be in Five Points and the overall vision for its future. The decision will then be up to city council for what to permit in the area moving forward.

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