Myrtle Beach City Council meets for first time in new year

Myrtle Beach City Council meets for first time in new year

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach City Council's first meeting of 2016 revealed plans to tackle wildlife management, vacant storefronts and alternative modes of transportation.

Tuesday afternoon, city council members passed the first reading of an ordinance to allow a licensed wildlife control specialist to be able to shoot a gun within city limits to kill wild animals, specifically coyotes.

City Manager John Pedersen said there are currently no humane ways to kill coyotes within Myrtle Beach because they can't be shot under the current firearms ordinance.

In the city council workshop Tuesday morning, an SCDNR representative said DNR biologists are recommending coyotes be killed after they're caught.

"They can breed really quickly and cover a whole area and the places I'm seeing they're showing up more than in the country, and they're in the country plenty of them, is around the cities," said Joel Chanaca, of SCDNR's law enforcement division.

The second reading of the exception to the firearms ordinance should be on the agenda for the next council meeting on January 26.

Myrtle Beach City Council members also approved a contract with a company called Retail Strategies, which will work with the city, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation to recruit retailers to vacant storefronts.

The company will specifically focus on Kings Highway, US-501, Carver Street and the downtown area.

Retail Strategies will represent Myrtle Beach at conferences and also use the company's established connections to recruit businesses.

Retail Strategies will also data that can be used as part of the recruitment process and to also better existing businesses.

"We'd take your vision, the real estate assets that you have, the analytical research, put those together, create the strategy and then go out and implement that," said Matt Petro, of Retail Strategies.

Council approved a three-year contract for $110,000. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce agreed to pay for the first year, which costs $50,000.

Council members also discussed the possibility of better regulating alternative modes of transportation, such as mopeds, scooters, golf carts and bicycles.

The city attorney, Thomas Ellenburg, said there are nearly 300 laws in South Carolina pertaining to alternative modes of transportation, but he said they're tough for our officers to enforce because there are so many of them scattered throughout various state codes and they don't always specify a penalty for when people break them, such as driving a golf cart after dark or riding a moped or bicycle on the sidewalk.

Ellenburg drafted an ordinance that puts all of those laws in one place for reference purposes and creates a misdemeanor penalty.

The ordinance shifts some of the responsibility for compliance to the businesses renting out the mopeds and golf carts.

Ellenburg proposed requiring the renters to do mechanical inspections, provide helmets to people under 21, and make sure the driver has a proper driver's license and can operate the moped or golf cart effectively.

The ordinance also specifies that while the minimum driving age is 15 for a moped or 16 for a golf cart, anyone under the age of 18 cannot legally sign a contractual agreement with a renter.

Another aspect of this ordinance is education. The renters would be required to have signs posted listing regulations and also pass out safety brochures, which the police department will create.

Myrtle Beach City Council members did not vote on the actual ordinance Tuesday, but instead agreed to continue talking about it. Some members brought up the need for Horry County Council cooperation on this because of the donut holes within the city.

Council also wants to sit down with the people who rent out these mopeds and golf carts to hear their thoughts.

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