HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The issue of where mining can happen in Horry County is one step closer to being out of the hands of county leaders.
During a second reading of the ordinance, Horry County Council voted 9-3 in favor of amending the zoning to remove mining permits and standards from the county’s zoning regulations.
The ordinance essentially takes mining regulation responsibilities off the county government’s shoulders and places it into the hands of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The move is meant to legally protect the county from lawsuits after a federal judge ruled earlier this year that current county mining rules weren’t consistent with state law.
But several people spoke out during the county council meeting on Tuesday night stating that the county is giving up too much control of where mines can be placed and makes it harder for property owners to fight future mining operations.
Horry County Councilman Danny Hardee explained to WMBF News that DHEC will not assess the pitfalls of allowing mining operations in certain places.
Some were also concerned that the county’s future could mean that mines would be placed throughout the county without much thought.
DHEC said in an email to WMBF News that “the South Carolina Mining Act and Mining Regulations give DHEC regulatory authority over all mining in the state. While some counties and municipalities have their own ordinances regarding mining, all mining operations are subject to state regulations.”
However, DHEC’s website states that the act does not supersede local zoning ordinances and that mining operations must conform with local zoning or land use ordinances.
The removal of the mining permits will also require changes to the Imagine 2040 plan. The Horry County Council voted in favor 9-3 of amending the Imagine 2040 plan in regard to the mining operations.
Also, in connection to the mining permit issue, councilmembers voted 9-3 in favor of amending the county code regarding flood damage prevention and control and stormwater management as it relates to mining.
The ordinance must go through a third and final reading before it is made official.