Horry County Council drops local regulations over mining industry

Horry County Council drops local regulations over mining industry

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County Council moved forward Tuesday night with passing ordinances to eliminate previously-held rights to regulate aspects of mining operations in the county.

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.

Worried residents have said it will compromise important regulations that allow the county to plan out the future of the community.

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In an earlier interview, Waccamaw Riverkeeper Cara Schildtknecht explained that these ordinances would alter the county’s zoning regulations to the point where there would be no restrictions on where mines can be placed.

“Keeping those zoning ordinances in place is really, really important, and we should be keeping those in place. It’s the county’s right to do that, and we should be doing it to protect the people who live here,” Schildtknecht said.

Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner had previously explained that the ordinances were meant to comply with federal and state law, while working in the best interest of residents.

DHEC officials said state mining regulations do not supersede local zoning ordinances and that mining operations must conform with local zoning or land use ordinances. However, that is what is being dropped from the county’s regulations through these ordinances.

The three ordinances were read and voted on for the third time - one to amend the county’s zoning ordinance and remove mining permits; another to change the county code regarding flood damage prevention and control, and stormwater management as it relates to mining; and a third to amend the county’s Comprehensive Plan in regards to mining operations.

The three ordinances were originally put under the consent agenda, but the ordinances were taken out of the consent agenda and discussed. At one point there was a motion to defer the issue so it could be discussed again, but that motion was rejected. Each ordinance was passed through a vote of 8 to 3.

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