HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Improvements for Legends Drive, a continuously growing area, have been a topic of discussion for leaders and homeowners over the last several months, but the question is exactly how those improvements are going to be paid for.
Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught said the area around Legends Drive is constantly bringing new housing developments and if that's going to continue, the now privately-owned road needs to be fixed. Handing it over the county is one idea that's been considered, but before that happens, it needs to be brought up to county standards, which could include doing things like widening and redoing drainage in that area.
Bringing the road up to county standards involves putting money into it, and Vaught said there are two options when it comes to that: either putting a special tax on that particular area, or getting the owner of the road to pay for the work. Once the county takes over the roads, it will then continue to keep up with it.
If it came down to putting a special tax district on the area, homeowners who live within the parameters of the tax district would have to pay taxes, which would then go toward fixing the road and bringing it up to county standards.
"They have to present a petition to council that represents 15 percent or more of the voting residence in the affected area and they have to define the area that's going to be affected," said Vaught, "In other words, which residents will be hit with the special tax district mileage. That has to be tightly defined in the petition and then they bring it before the admin committee."
That 15 percent would represent those who are in favor of further exploring the idea of putting a special tax district on the area. However, for a signature to count on the petition, they have to be registered voters for that specific area.
Nothing would be final if the petition is turned in and approved, this would just open up the conversation to be considered in front of Horry County Council.
A homeowner in the area, Scottie Snyder, said she's been doing some research over the past several months on this special tax district and has been working to get those signatures from that needed 15 percent.
Snyder said she resubmitted the petition as of Monday morning with hopes the signatures of 15 percent of registered voters in the area will be approved by the Horry County Administration Committee. She first submitted the petition at the beginning of February but said it was returned to her because she was a few signatures short.
"Once they get enough signatures that are verifiable, then it'll go to our county attorney and he will draft a resolution for consideration at admin and if admin approves that resolution calling for the referendum then that resolution will go forward to full council and full council would vote on it," said Vaught.
As a homeowner, Snyder said she things Legends Drive also affects the curbside appeal of properties in the developments along that road. With the road not being up to county standards, Snyder said that poses as a safety issue as well and this special tax district is an alternative for the good of the community overall.
However, Vaught said this could still be brought to a halt at the administrative level, before county council, or even by the residents if it goes to the polls for a referendum vote.
Homeowners in the area who are not in favor of the special tax district are not staying quiet. Some who live in Sago Plantation said they just found out about this at a meeting called by Snyder at the beginning of February.
Robert Lohnes lives in Sago Plantation and said he's concerned about a number of things if this special tax district goes into effect, like property taxes going up so much that their homes become a tough sell in the future.
"We hope that our county council will look at that and say, 'Okay, why are we going forward with this project, getting a special election, when there are more people that don't want this than people that do?'" said Lohnes. "So we're hoping that at that point that will end this. We think that people should be able to have more information on this. Back this project off. Let's start over. Let's get everybody the current information. Lets get all the details."
Since last week, Lohnes and his neighbors have been going door to door with a petition on behalf of those who are not in favor of a special tax district.
Although this petition isn't a requirement, Vaught said when he goes before the administration committee, he'll have something in writing representing how residents in his district feel.