SCDNR asks county to deny rezoning request that would allow for new hospital in Carolina Forest

SCDNR opposes proposed hospital in Carolina Forest

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is hoping plans for a new hospital in Carolina Forest get scrapped.

Members of the state agency say the hospital, which would sit along International Drive if approved, wouldn’t be compatible with the nearby Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.

Just last month, Conway Medical Center announced plans for a new 50-bed hospital to sit along International Drive.

Earlier this week, SCDNR Director Robert Boyles sent a letter to Horry County Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning John Danford. In that letter, Boyles asks Danford to not approve the rezoning request that would allow for the hospital to be built.

Boyles notes the adjacent Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserves goes through frequent controlled burns. When those burns take place, drop gates along International Drive come down, preventing drivers from going through.

For that reason, among others, Boyle states in the letter the hospital would not be compatible with the preserve.

Boyles also notes the hospital could have a negative impact on wildlife and wetlands.

On Thursday afternoon, the Horry County Planning Commission will discuss the rezoning. Their meeting starts at 3 p.m.

SCDNR declined to do an interview for this story. A spokesperson said the letter can speak for itself.

Conway Medical Center released a statement.

Conway Medical Center (CMC) filed the Certificate of Need with DHEC in May for this new hospital to be built in the Carolina Forest area. As we await DHEC’s decision, we continue to actively work with our engineers and site planners to ensure that we effectively utilize the property, while respecting the environment and maintaining its natural habitat and beauty. A representative of Conway Medical Center has spoken directly with Robert H. Boyles, Jr., Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources regarding the recent letter sent to Horry County’s Planning and Zoning Department about this project. Mr. Boyles indicated he is happy and willing to work with the hospital towards a resolution over the environmental and other concerns. Additionally, CMC and its representatives have been and will continue to work with Horry County to alleviate any possible concerns. CMC will maintain a landscaping and architecture plan that will blend into the natural setting while creating a natural buffer to any neighboring property. While the site we plan to purchase is more than 350 acres, we have designed a facility that would be primarily located on 35 to 40 acres of that property. We are still completing our due diligence on purchasing the property.

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