HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Officials with the Myrtle Beach International Airport have been working to purchase extra land near its runways.
One of those properties is the Midway Par 3 golf course, which has sat vacant since 2017.
Under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, all airports are recommended to own land both in front of and behind runways to provide a safety buffer for when planes take off and land. This area is referred to as "runway protection zones."
According to FAA airport design recommendations, owning the land surrounding the airport can reduce the risk of animals and people interfering with the runways, which could make landings and takeoffs more dangerous.
Midway Par, 3, the nearly 35-acre piece of land on U.S. 17 Business, is directly across the airport to the east. MYR spokesperson Kirk Lovell said officials have been looking to acquire the property since it falls under the runway protection zone. Now, they are in negotiations with the property owner, Burroughs and Chapin Company.
According to Lovell, the purchase will not use any local tax dollars. Instead, funds will come directly from the FAA funding programs and grants.
“The airport never uses any local tax revenues. Basically, the airport is self-sustaining, but our funding and grants come through the FAA, so that property would be paid for through the FAA funding mechanism,” said Lovell.
If purchased, the use of the land would be limited due to FAA recommendations, meaning, homes, shopping centers, or any other major structures cannot be built. Lovell said since Myrtle Beach is seeing so much growth, purchasing this piece of land will help with preventative issues down the road.
“It’s really to make sure nobody buys it and tries to put up a hotel or housing or tries to put a hospital or a daycare center there, because if the airport doesn’t own the land and somebody else owns it and there aren’t deed restrictions on it, then somebody could essentially buy that land with the idea that they’re going to put a housing development there and that would cause all kinds of issues. It would be noise, it would be a safety issue, but also the airport would essentially get in trouble with the FAA because we’re not good stewards of the land around us,” said Lovell.
He added that although there are no plans set in place yet, the property could still potentially remain a golf course.
That's where the CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions, Bill Golden, comes in. Golden said if the sale goes through, the non-profit organization called Project Golf is interested in proposing a partnership with Horry County.
“We’re working on what type of proposal we would put together in terms of how we’d like to use that property for our foundation project and ultimately we would need to present that to county council. So, there’s a lot of moving parts to this, but the bottom line is we are interested in that, we do feel that it is an ideal property for our foundation to help support the growth of the game of golf, junior golf, disabled veterans and game development. So it’s an ideal location for that and we also further think there’s other partners within the community that could participate with us to really make it a focal point or centerpiece of what we stand for, golfing in Myrtle Beach,” said Golden.
He said group leaders see the former Midway Par 3 golf course as a potential home for a Project Golf Facility to grow the golf initiative.
As of right now, there's no set timeline on the closing for this purchase, Lovell said.
“We have to do a lot of due diligence to make sure the land is obviously free and clear, but also making sure that it meets the requirements so it is eligible for FAA funding,” Lowell said. “We need to make sure there is no HAZMAT and any other issues associated with the land, just because it is again using FAA money, but ultimately, they do want airports to own that type of land,” said Lovell.