Horry County’s Citizen Planning Academy to meet for the first time

Horry Citizen Planning Academy

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County officials are projecting close to 275,000 new residents will live in the area by 2040.

With that in mind, county leaders want to make sure both new and long-time residents have information about how planning and zoning works from the state level and how it’s applied to individual communities.

A new Horry County Citizens Planning Academy - designed to shape the future of Horry County - will meet for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Horry County is teaming up with the community and offering a program designed to educate residents on what goes into planning and zoning. It’s a series of four classes made up of 35 people. Members were asked to pre-register through an online survey last month.

From there, county officials chose people who either live, work, or had some relationship to the unincorporated areas while making sure the group has equal representation from all different geographic areas of the county.

Leigh Kane, principal planner for Horry County Planning and Zoning, said it was important for them to make sure they targeted the audience who’s going to be impacted by the decisions that will be made through planning.

“A lot of times people say development that’s happening in their community and they wanted to be able to have played a part in that decision-making process that made it happen. People don’t often realize that once they see a project going in the ground, it’s actually been in the works for multiple years before that development actually comes to fruition," Kane said.

The classes will focus on the history of planning in Horry County and across the state, hands-on activities like designing an area, learning the re-zoning process, and ways to guide quality growth, to name a few.

“The main objective is just to be able to educate people how they can be involved in the process, because the one important thing that we have to have out of this effort and any of the communication that we make with the public is if they have strong feelings about something, we want recommendations about how to do it better," Kane said.

Michael Ritchie, who serves on the Carolina Forest Civic Association’s board of directors, is one of the first 35 members planning to attend the Citizen Planning Academy’s inaugural meeting. He said he’s happy the county created the academy so residents could get involved in the planning process.

“I think it’s important to get the truth out there and get the facts out there. If we can do that and we can spread the word, I think we can all have better dialogue,” said Ritchie “There’s two sides and they’re both very polarizing but I think we can find a happy medium and smart growth."

The first Horry County Citizen Planning Academy meeting will be held Oct. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Government and Justice Center in Conway. The meeting is only open to those who pre-registered.

For those who missed the deadline, county officials hope to host this meeting at least once a year to give more people an opportunity to become involved.

The information covered at each session will also be posted online on the county’s planning and zoning page.

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