Myrtle Beach leaders discuss entertainment overlay district, workforce housing at meeting

City council discusses overlay district

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach city leaders made official the 10-month moratorium on vape shops at a city council meeting Tuesday.

The ordinance that allows for a 10-month study to be done by the planning commission also prevents new vape shops, tobacco shops or businesses to be established within the district.

The planning commission is responsible for coming back with its recommendations for the future of those shops in one year.

“In the meantime, council doesn’t want to be overtaken by events and find out what while the planning commission is studying them, they show up on every corner. So essentially they have put a halt on them. It does not affect any existing business,” said city manager John Pedersen.

They’re going to be looking at the zoning issues and whether or not these kinds of products should be allowed in the zoning that’s already in place, according to Pedersen.

“This is all so new that we don’t really have answers already on hand, so this is just to hit the pause button so we can get those answers and do it in a thoughtful way rather than just reacting,” said Pedersen.

Councilman Mike Lowder was one of the only members on council to oppose the approval of the ordinance. He said he doesn’t understand why some products were included in the restrictions.

Also discussed at council was the first reading of the ordinance regarding special property tax assessments for rehabilitated historic projects.

Pedersen said for certain types of properties that are at least 50 years old with some sort of historical distinction, those properties are eligible for tax credits that could significantly reduce the cost of a project.

“We’re looking at that as a very critical component of our downtown strategy,” said Pedersen.

The reading of that ordinance was continued because some council members felt they wanted to have further discussions on what the ordinance means for the city at next month’s workshop.

Another topic of discussion was affordable workforce housing in the city. The idea was recently discussed at a workshop at the start of the year, and city leaders are looking at ways to make housing like that happen.

“This is really talking about folks that are making $30,000, maybe $28,000 or $29,000, all the way up to $60,000,” said Pedersen.

An advisory board is currently looking into tailoring a program like that to the Myrtle Beach community. Council also voted to pass the first reading of a budget amendment to increase building permit fees by 0.25 percent of the construction value and adding that onto the cost of the building permit fee.

Pedersen said the city is hoping that will raise around $800,000 to go toward funding the workforce housing program. He added the costs associated depends on what the specific recommendations are, but it could be used for purchasing property.

There will be a second reading for that budget ordinance.