MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Two hot-button national issues are among the items up for discussion at the Myrtle Beach City Council meeting Tuesday: the local impacts of the opioid epidemic, and how offshore drilling and exploration could affect Myrtle Beach's tourism economy.
President Trump and Governor McMaster both declared a public health crisis over the opioid epidemic, and with that, the journey to controlling it has begun. But should the city of Myrtle Beach spend thousands of dollars to attack it?
The city is on the record of being against offshore drilling and exploration.
Council says it understands the need to diversify the economy, but the council's position is that it would be a terrible potential risk for Horry County's economy if something goes wrong. Mark Kruea, City Spokesperson, says there are about 41,000 jobs related to tourism in Horry County alone. He says if there were to be a big spill, putting those people out of work for an extended amount of time is not a good idea.
As for the growing opioid epidemic, Mark Kruea says it's really the number one problem right now. The city hopes to allocate $12,500 to participate in a study of the regional heroin and opioid epidemic. They plan to call everyone to the table, all the agencies and law enforcement and try to create an overall approach to find out what improvements can be made to address this problem head on.
"You don't think about it, but that drug addiction is causing some of the car break-ins, for example. A lot of the shop lifting, some of the crime is related directly to people who are hooked on these opioid drugs and need the money to get that fix, so if we can solve the opioid problem we'll address some of the crime issues too," said Mark Kruea.
We talked to Kruea about how the two issues of the opioid epidemic and offshore drilling and exploration have a common theme of overall quality of life, and he said:
"I think indirectly almost everything we do is related quality of life, so we want to make sure we continue to be a great place to live work and vacation which we are. We don't want to case any threats to that we also want to address those threats that we have so the addiction is certainly one. We want to make sure that it's a safe community, we want to make sure the jobs we have stay. We would love to diversify the economy which we have to balance the risk versus the reward and now we are hesitant about the risk of offshore drilling and exploration."
Future commercial property in a residential area sparked some controversy at the last Myrtle Beach City Council meeting. The issue for Osceola Street was intended to initially be brought up at the last meeting, but city council pushed the reading to today. This issue is expected to be addressed today.
Carol Coleman, the planning director for Myrtle Beach says the addition of a residential storage unit on Osceola Street will benefit the people in Myrtle Beach, because it's self-contained and there will be no outdoor storage.
The planning commission also recommended an improvement to the "street-scape" of Osceola Street. They would like to see a multipurpose path along one side and to add landscaping and trees to beautify the corridor. Another proposal is the installation of security cameras which would benefit the community as well because it would be tied into the police system which currently exists.
The Lakeview Villas is a new residential property in a zoning district that allows multifamily development. However, council wants it to be more like a timeshare – where people would rent units for a period of time, but that's not allowed in that district. The city says the same thing applied in this case as with Osceola Street.
"It's private enterprise this is a business developer that's coming in to ask to do this. Our involvement in it has been in that it is a proposed planned unit development. So, our involvement in it was to create the best plan that could go forward. We also tried to come up with and city and planning committee tried to come up with public benefits that would help the community and that's the biggest thing to remember -is that this isn't just a straight re-zoning in it itself. It's a mixed use that could benefit the community, if the community is willing to embrace it. If not, then it's up to city council to decide what happens with it." Said Coleman.
City council will be updating the numbers on the economy at the meeting today. The council meeting is set to take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.