Group hosting Saturday rally in hopes of preserving Ingram Dunes

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Located just west of the ocean and just north of 10th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach is Ingram Dunes, an area of land close to residents' hearts.

Those residents are now trying to preserve the dunes. Damien Triouleyre is one of them. He said he has lived in North Myrtle Beach for over 20 years and finds the dunes peaceful and beautiful.

"When you walk in there, it's so beautiful and within five minutes you begin to feel very calm," Triouleyre said.

Although he said it looks like just trees and woods on the outside, it means so much more to him on the inside.

"A lot of the people who grew up here played in these dunes, so everybody knows them," Triouleyre said.

Pat Dowling, spokesperson for the city of North Myrtle Beach, said plans for a development at Ingram Dunes were presented to city council a few months ago but didn't pass.

According to Dowling, representatives of the group that wants to preserve the dunes protested the proposed development and city council let it die on the table.

Sean Hoelscher, senior landscape architect with DDC Engineers, presented the project to the city. He said because the rezoning was ultimately opposed and council chose to take no action, they were left to redesign the project to meet all the current standards for the zoning district.

"I believe we've gone through initial design review with the city. We've received some, what I'd perceive as minor, comments to the construction drawings within the plot itself and our goal is to respond to those comments and submit for the March 20 planning commission meeting," said Hoelscher.

When Hoelscher proposed the plan, he said they were attempting to present one with rezoning that would have allowed for the preservation of some of the land.

"What we're doing is by right and our position is that we were attempting to kind of work with them and we were met with a little bit of opposition during that process," said Hoelscher.

He added that now the project adheres to the current zoning and land development regulations.

"It's nothing that any other property owner wouldn't be able to do for that particular piece of property," said Hoelscher, "We're not asking for something outlandish. It's within the guidelines currently and initially we were attempting to ask for a little bit of flexibility and that flexibility was met with opposition."

Dowling said the way the land is currently zoned, it does allow for some single-family homes to be developed. He added that although the dunes are a historic part of the city, it's privately owned property and the land owner ultimately gets to decide its fate, as long as it meets city code.

"Once it's saved it'll be saved forever, and once it's gone it'll be gone forever," said Triouleyre.

According to Triouleyre, a rally is being hosted near the dunes, just off Hillside Drive in North Myrtle Beach, on Saturday morning at 11. He hopes to spread information and awareness about why he wants the dunes preserved.

Another rally will be hosted the following Saturday, March 17.

Dowling provided the following statement regarding Ingram Dunes:

The City understands the desire of those who would like to see Ingram Dunes remain undeveloped. Toward that end, the City has reached out to state and federal officials and others to determine if there is a genuine appetite for helping to purchase the property in order to preserve it. In a December 2017 email to the real estate agent representing the property owner, the City informed the agent that it had been contacted by the state, which is exploring the potential for purchase of the property. The money could potentially come from a number of sources. In the same email, the City let the real estate agent know that, in order to continue to move forward to explore the potential for purchase, the City needs answers to the following questions: Is the property under contract? If not, what is the purchase price for the property? Is the owner of the property willing to take 50% of the purchase price in cash and the rest over a period of time? Would the property owner be interested in any portion of the purchase price being a charitable contribution for tax purpose?

Dowling said, as of Friday, the city has still not heard back.

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