‘It isn’t safe’: Plans for Island Green approved after tied vote

Island Green development

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A lengthy discussion on the future of the Island Green community ended in a way that homeowners hoped it wouldn’t.

For more than an hour, the planning commission meeting focused on whether there should be more than one entrance and exit to Island Green where more than 1,400 homes already exist and another 400 are planned.

“I’m kinda having a problem understanding the whole, entire question," commission member Chuck Rhome said. "We have standards in place that dictate what we do and we have a developer that is proposing something that goes against our standards. I don’t understand what the question is. We change the proposal or we vote against the proposal based on our standards. To me it’s that simple. It’s that cut and dry.”

“What I can tell you right now is that the road is insufficient for the amount of people living in Island Green,” John Danford, the principal planner for Horry County, said. "

Jenny Ward, a Island Green homeowner, said many of the homeowners in the neighborhood feel the developer should be responsible for maintaining upgrades and adding another entrance.

“If he is going to develop that property, it should be incumbent upon him to provide the road,” Ward said.

But the developer disagrees.

Steven Powell who was at the meeting on behalf of the developer said from what he saw, there was no possible way to add another way into the neighborhood. He also thinks homeowners should maintain the roads.

Debbie Godman and Ward said there are three main concerns with going without an additional entrance: the first being flooding and drainage.

“Where is that water going to go?” Ward asked. “You’re going to have asphalt roads, cement for streets, sidewalks and building. Those trees are going to be gone that could absorb lots of water.”

“My parents lost their home in here,” Godman said. “Their house was completely flooded, it was a disaster. They have since moved, but so many other houses also have flooded here.”

The second concern: Public safety.

Ward wonders whether everyone could get out of one entrance in the event of an evacuation or an emergency and if first responders could get in.

“We will be trapped, if there is a fire at the front of the property and I will at the back of the property, we will not being able to get out," Ward said. "We would all burn. We would quite literally toast because there would be no where for us to go. You’re putting families at risk. Aside from property at risk, you’re putting people’s lives at risk.”

Finally, they worry the vote to approve no additional entrance being added, which goes against Horry County standards for the amount of homes in the neighborhood, will lead to similar decisions being made in the future.

“It’s a dangerous precedent for developments to come,” Godman said. “If other neighborhoods are put in this situation, the developer can say, ‘You did it at Island Green, why can’t we have only one entrance?'”

It was a tie when commission members voted, a strange twist that left even those on the committee confused, especially when they found out the vote had passed.

“If a motion to disapprove a matter fails, which it does with a tied vote, it has the effect of approving the matter in question and a subsequent motion to approve is not necessary," the county attorney read from the Horry County ordinance list.

“Really?” asked Steven Neeves, chairman of the planning commission as disbelief could be heard from the audience. "

“That’s why we often make the recommendation that you make the recommendation to approve, not disapprove,” said David Schwerd, the department head. “And then let it fail for when you are in that situation. I also want to point out that if you don’t make a motion one way or another it will be approved per the land development regulations and state law."

“Okay," said Neeves, with a look of disbelief. “So it’s approved with all the conditions agreed to. Well that’s one rough way to get it done, but I guess it got it done.”

Those who voted in favor of the design modification that was approved Thursday after a tie have until the next meeting to ask for review of the vote.

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