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Rezoning request for new CMC hospital in Carolina Forest passes first reading

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – An ordinance to rezone hundreds of acres in Carolina Forest for a new Carolina Medical Center hospital has cleared one hurdle.

Horry County Council passed the first reading of the ordinance to rezone 353 acres of land on International Drive to building a $160.8 million state-of-the-art, 50-bed hospital.

PAST COVERAGE | CMC receives approval from DHEC to move forward with new facility in Carolina Forest

Leaders also passed the first reading of a development agreement between Conway Medical Center and Horry County over the new hospital.

In exchange for approving the rezoning, CMC has offered to convey some of the property to the county, according to our news partner My Horry News.

Before leaders voted on the first readings, Councilman Bill Howard, who represents the area where the hospital will be built, stated that there are concerns over the rezoning in the community that will be addressed.

“We’re going to pass this tonight, but we’re going to have another public hearing and we have talked to DNR, the concerns the people who live at The Farm, the buffers we’re very concerned and the main thing is the land bank, we want to make sure that goes forward,” Howard said.

The plans for the hospital have been changed a couple of times.

The original plans for the hospital were opposed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources due to its proximity to the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. As a result, CMC changed the plans to move the hospital more to the southeast, and closer to several homes in The Farm neighborhood.

But then people in the neighborhood raised concerns about medical offices right next to their neighborhood.

During a town hall meeting in May, CMC leaders agreed to consider changing their proposed development agreement to place additional space between The Farm and any medical offices that are built on the property.

Chief Financial Officer Brian Argo said there have been plenty of conversations to make sure that everyone in the community is happy with the hospital.

“I think we’re on the fourth or fifth iteration,” Argo said. “After listening to The Farm community residents and their concerns, we put it in a third location finally. We’ve done some height restrictions in the development agreement that I think will satisfy The Farm community members as well, as meet the needs of the hospital and the growing community.”

The facility will have 50 hospital beds, including eight labor and delivery rooms, two C-section rooms, six ICU beds, three operating rooms and a six-bay infusion center. The beds will be transferred from CMC’s current 210-bed facility at its main campus.

The new hospital will also help to create 250 jobs.

The development agreement must go through two more readings. If the agreement is approved by county leaders, CMC expects construction on the new facility to last for three years.

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