Horry County looking to 'beef up' application process for late night businesses

Horry County looking to 'beef up' application process for late night businesses

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - There was some disagreement over a proposed ordinance that was discussed at Tuesday's Horry County Council meeting.

New businesses that plan to serve alcohol after midnight may now have to go through an extensive screening process.

"What's the problem? How many establishments do we have that are a problem?" Councilman Johnny Vaught asked.

"Are there problems out there? Yes, they're well documented," Horry County attorney Arrigo Carotti answered.

Former businesses like Club Faces and Heat Ultra Lounge made headlines after being deemed nuisances and being shut down for a year. Lawmakers say that process doesn't seem to be working. Carotti said there have been nearly three dozen more since 2003.

"Staff was asked to go back to the drawing board and they continue to crop up," Carotti said. "We close them down for a year, they'll come back in a different form and open up again."

Some council members feel the new ordinance may scare away new businesses that want to make a home in the Grand Strand.

"So now we get this long one that appears to me to put obstructions in front of businesses that are wishing to open and sell alcoholic beverages after midnight, and this thing goes on and on and on. I'm really flabbergasted." said Vaught.

New bars wishing to open will have to provide additional screening before being issued a license as well as providing a full safety plan on how to deal with nuisance complaints. The current version of the law also includes up to $500 in fees to be paid every year.

"They shouldn't have to come back and pay for the same thing over and over again." said Vaught.

Horry County Councilman Mark Lazarus said county officials will have to spend a "tremendous amount of time, effort and dollars for nuisance violations" for those repeat establishments.

"What we're doing is we're tying this to their business licenses so we don't have to spend those dollars and that time and that energy." Lazarus said.

Council members asked that the language be changed in the ordinance so as not to penalize new businesses. The new draft will be presented at the next administrative meeting on Dec. 13.

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