City of Myrtle Beach rejects proposal to put more distance between gas stations, neighborhoods

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 5:27 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2022 at 5:37 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Several Myrtle Beach residents are back at square one in their mission to put more distance between gas stations and neighborhoods.

Myrtle Beach City Council rejected a proposal to amend the zoning codes to require future gas pumps to be located at least 500 feet away from residential areas.

Many residents previously voiced safety and health concerns about gas stations to the planning commission, stating the pumps are just “too close” to their homes.

The commission later took a vote, recommending that the city council deny the request. Many said they needed more information about whether gas stations pose any dangers to neighborhoods within a 500 feet distance.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, some leaders voiced different concerns about enforcing the zoning changes.

Some were wary about how the 500 feet requirement would impact businesses, particularly existing gas stations.

That concern was echoed by the city attorney, William Bryan, Jr.

There are over 30 gas stations in Myrtle Beach within 500 feet of a district that allows residential uses.

Based on how the language of the ordinance is written, the city attorney expressed concern on how the proposed restrictions could open the door for legal troubles.

“If this ordinance passes, it would also render all those gas stations non-conforming which has additional legal implications. If you’re asking if I have concerns with proposed ordinance 2022-5 the answer is yes,” Bryan said.

The city’s assistant city manager Brian Tucker said another concern for councilmembers is how the proposed ordinance could limit future development on properties.

Under the proposal, future neighborhoods would also be held to the 500 feet distance requirement from gas stations.

While some city leaders understood residents’ concerns about gas stations being built too close to neighborhoods, they felt this zoning change wasn’t the answer.

As for a solution, Tucker said we’re just not there yet.

“I don’t know if there’s an answer to that question yet,” Tucker said. “I think council is clear, they would like to come up with some way to [address the distance concerns] between gas stations and convenience stores and residential uses. But trying to address the resident’s concerns in a way that doesn’t create more downstream impacts.”

Councilmembers said they had received questions about whether this proposed zoning change impacted a proposed gas station project along North Kings Highway.

City leaders said regardless of how the vote turned out, the 500 feet proposal would not have an effect on that project.

The proposed gas station ordinance was rejected by a majority vote.

Clyde H. Mike Lowder was the only council member who voted against rejecting the proposed changes.

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