NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - This week North Myrtle Beach City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance to allow Barefoot Landing to redesign the Barefoot Resort Commercial Planned Development District (PDD). Barefoot Landing is owned by Burroughs and Chapin. The company wants to give Barefoot Landing a face lift and add more than 70,000 square feet of commercial buildings, increasing business by an estimated 29 percent.
North Myrtle Beach Spokesman Pat Dowling said City Council loves the idea of a Barefoot Landing expansion and update, but the proposed amendments will not reach a second reading to pass until Burroughs and Chapin comes up with a new storm water drainage plan and money to renovate Highway 17 at Barefoot Landing to accommodate the additional people the new design will attract if it becomes reality.
Dowling said Barefoot Landing attracts about seven million visitors annually. Traffic in the area is a known nightmare, especially during the summer months. Dowling said Highway 17 falls under "failure classification."
Highway 17 is owned by the state. Dowling said there is a currently funded project to extend the turn lanes into Barefoot Landing to improve safety. This project will cost about $3 million and construction will start this fall or winter.
However, that already funded lane extension project will not help Burroughs and Chapin's cause. Dowling said the company must present a plan to North Myrtle Beach City Council on how to fund an estimated $9 million project to construct dual turn lanes, which also requires road widening.
If the company moves forward to make the second reading of the ordinance happen, Dowling said the question - what will you contribute - needs to be answered by Burroughs and Chapin. He said discussions are happening now at a staff level, but money or right-of-way given to the state for the road improvements to accommodate Barefoot Landing's growth would be ideal.
"You know they want to move it forward, we want the re-development. It's a good thing. But, you can't overlook the traffic situation that exists now and will be further amplified in the future by this development," said Dowling.
Storm water drainage must also be fixed to move on with the plans. The city will not allow Burroughs and Chapin to remove two and a half acres of a retention pond unless they come up with another way to drain the leftover water. He said White Point Swash has too much bacteria as is and is not a drainage option. He said it seems the only option is the Intracoastal Waterway and the water must be treated to an extent before draining there.
"You don't want to add anything more there to impact the swash or to impact the beaches that are adjacent to it. Simply by virtue of being next to it, by when the water comes out it flows somewhere and sometimes it'll spike bacteria. That's not good for us as a tourism destination. That's not good from a health perspective," Dowling said.
Burroughs and Chapin must work with council and the state to find a way to fund additional Highway 17 improvements and storm water drainage before presenting to Council again.