HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Plans for an interchange connecting SC 31 with Carolina Forest will go before the planning commission on Thursday for a recommendation.
The piece of land is in between Ten Oaks Middle School and River Oaks Elementary School where Carolina Bays Parkway, also known as SC 31, runs between.
"The interchange was actually originally planned when they initially started discussions with International Paper for the Carolina Forest Development agreement. At that same time, SCDOT and Horry County were working in partnership to construct Highway 31 Carolina Bays Parkway, and as part of that they designed an interchange possible location,” said Horry County Planning Director David Schwerd.
Schwerd said these plans have been in the works for a while, but the land is not owned by the county. Schwerd said the developer is interested in developing the property, but they’ve also been willing to potentially negotiate to sell it.
Schwerd said the county has preserved the integrity of the right of way so it can't be developed by the person who owns the land just yet, and the county can decide what priority the project takes.
"At the current, the county has to decide if that’s a high enough priority to dedicate funding to acquire the right of way,” said Schwerd.
The planning commission will be tasked with making a recommendation for either path on Thursday.
"If the county doesn't want to dedicate that funding to acquire the right of way then they'll have to exempt the property from the official map and then that would allow the developer to come in and apply for a rezoning to add more units to that location,” said Schwerd.
Schwerd said staff has already recommended an exemption not be made. He said if the planning commission recommends to proceed with preserving the right of way, they will have a certain amount of time to negotiate the price of property.
"It would go to the I&R committee for county council and once its presented for that committee, they have 75 days to decide whether to enter into negotiations to purchase the property or to authorize condemnation proceedings to begin,” he said.
Schwerd said both the county and land owner will have to appraise the land should this move into the negotiations stage. He said these plans are still very early in the process, and this process only has to do with right of way, not construction.
Schwerd said the developer did initially plan to develop the property, and they would like to develop it, but he also said they’re willing to negotiate on whether to sell it and for how much.