Nightclub hours, beach parking, golf carts discussed during Myrtle Beach City Council meetings

Nightclub hours, beach parking, golf carts discussed during Myrtle Beach City Council meetings

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach City Council will hold off on deciding whether bars and nightclubs should have to shut their doors at 2 a.m., one week after the Horry County Council passed first reading of a similar restriction.

"I think city council recognizes that the dozen or so establishments in Myrtle Beach have taken proactive measures and proper security measures," said Don Emery, owner of Dog House Donny's. "I think they understand that we deserve to be listened to and have our opinions heard."

Council members asked the city manager during Tuesday's workshop to talk to more business owners before they take a vote.

The proposed ordinance required clubs to close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., but council decided to continue that discussion and instead only approved the first reading of another portion of the ordinance requiring clubs and bars to keep the main entrance unlocked during business hours.

City staff said police officers were having issues getting into bars for safety checks because the front doors would be locked even though the businesses were open.

As for the more controversial part of the ordinance, City Manager John Pedersen said at the workshop he'll possibly look at banning new businesses from staying open after 2 a.m., while grandfathering in current businesses that have proven to be able to handle those hours.

Pedersen asked Emery to collect phone numbers for all of the business owners who were at the workshop, so he can follow up with them on their operational hours.

Also during the city council workshop Tuesday, the owner of Moped Rentals of Myrtle Beach, Ben Robinson, told council members he could lose nearly $80,000 due to the city manager's decision to ban golf carts south of 29th Avenue North on Ocean Boulevard during Memorial Day weekend.

He said he leased extra golf carts to keep up with high demand and put money into getting the golf carts ready to rent. That investment, paired with the loss of expected profits, will hurt his business, he said.

"Should I put my business in peril, which financially would crush us?" Robinson asked.

Pedersen issued the order Sunday to restrict golf carts from operating south of 29th Avenue North on Ocean Boulevard from 12:01 a.m. Friday through when the barricades are removed Monday.

He is able to do that because of permission granted to him through an extraordinary event ordinance for Bikefest, which allows him to take steps necessary to protect public safety.

Pedersen said he can't give golf carts a legal way to get around if they leave Ocean Boulevard because all of the closures of avenues and side streets forces them to go onto Kings Highway, where they're always banned under state law.

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall said police noticed extreme problems last year during Bikefest with golf carts on Kings Highway.

Golf carts also won't be allowed on traffic loop roads after 8 p.m., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Robinson argued golf carts could take Oak Street, but Pedersen said it's not reasonable to ask tourists to navigate through confusing traffic patterns without police guiding them along the way.

"We can't make sure that no businesses are affected when that becomes the priority rather than the safety of the residents and guests that stay," he said.

Pedersen told council he would look at some options if four of them wanted him to. However, after the afternoon meeting, he said council did not take advantage of that and no changes are being made right now.

Robinson said he'll be evaluating the situation throughout the weekend and then considering all of his options, including possible legal action.

Council also heard from students at Carolina Forest High School during Tuesday's afternoon meeting. The students created a petition against a recent parking ordinance because they think the rate of $20 per day for parking spots in street end lots along the Golden Mile is unfair to the people who call Horry County home.

Two students and their teacher spoke to council during the public input session.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus also gave a public comment Tuesday to ask council to slow down and work with the county on a more comprehensive parking plan. He suggested creating a commission to do that.

Council members and city staff stayed after the meeting to talk more informally with the students and other members of the public who decided to come to the meeting.

They explained they need to control increasing traffic and parking in a residential area of the city.

The ordinance passed two weeks ago after two readings, but Pedersen presented an update on implementation at the workshop Tuesday morning.

He said the goal for implementing the new rules is July 1. Then, people will have a two-week courtesy period to get used to the changes.

Council members also discussed language for the signs that will go up.

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