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Realtors ask Horry County to slow down on possible setback ordinance

Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 9:42 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County Council is looking at a proposed ordinance that would increase setback requirements, changing the way new homes are constructed.

However, the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors is asking council members to take another close look at the plans.

“I was raised on Highway 90 when I could sit in front of my dad’s station, and shoot a .22 rifle across the road at bottle caps and not worry about hitting anybody,” said Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught. “Now you can’t do that, can’t find the space between cars to shoot a bullet.”

Vaught can remember a time when many of Horry County’s roads were dirt roads that hardly saw any traffic.

He says that lack of traffic at the time meant people could build homes within the 25-foot setback requirement and not have too much to worry about.

“People like to have fenced-in backyards for their animals and that kind of thing and put it close to the road, but you have to be forward-thinking now,” said Vaught.

Vaught says “forward-thinking” for the county means realizing many two-lane roads will inevitably need to be widened to four to accommodate all the extra traffic.

That is part of the reason the county is looking at a new ordinance that would increase the setback requirement to 40 feet, and even 60 on some roads like Highway 90 and Highway 701.

Vaught says increasing setbacks would also make many roads safer for the people who live on them.

“People have to back out onto the roadway to leave their house, which is a dangerous situation,” said Vaught.

While The Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors respects that road widening and public safety are two major issues to take into account, it’s urging Vaught and other council members to take property owners into account before putting the ordinance into law.

“We’re just asking the council to conduct a parcel survey of the areas that will be impacted and give us a better idea of exactly what we’re looking at before we move forward,” said CCAR CEO Laura Crowther.

Some of the association’s concerns are that the larger setback could make lots unbuildable, impractical to develop or hurt their property value.

The association says the new requirements could also lead to nonconformity, making new home builds, harder to sell, which is why Crowther says getting a parcel survey done before a decision is made is so critical.

“We’ll certainly be able to see parcel by parcel, what impacts will take place,” she said. “And it will also help the property owners in those areas understand it a little more clearly as well.”

This setback change would only impact future home construction, not people living with the current minimum setback requirement.

The ordinance is due for a first reading at the upcoming council meeting on Nov. 2, but CCAR is asking them to hold off on any votes until after a parcel study.

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