Convenience store zoning issues proves to be ‘inconvenient’ for expanding health care in Conway

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 6:28 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Health Care Partners of South Carolina is ready to expand health care options into downtown Conway.

It wants to take over the old Conway Shopping Center on 4th Avenue.

The only thing it needs is for the only shop still standing - Dollar General - to move out.

Dollar General has a solution, but the solution has divided city leaders.

“This is a win for the people I represent,” Conway resident James Lee told the Conway City Council during a meeting Monday.

Lee runs a church on the west side of Conway and has lived in the area his whole life. One thing he’d love to see is a chance for his congregation to have easier access to health care.

He feels plans for a new primary care facility on 4th Avenue could do just that.

“We have two liquor stores in walking distance, and they’re willing to build a $25 million health care facility, and it doesn’t look like we are all receptive,” said Lee.

Health Care Partners of South Carolina has outgrown its current space on 16th Avenue near Collins Park and wants to grow the operation off 4th Avenue, where all the shops except Dollar General have closed down.

Dollar General is asking for a rezoning to build a new storefront across the street.

That rezoning request is what has some leaders, like Conway City Councilman William Goldfinch, hesitant to agree to the arrangement.

“If we allow this rezoning, then what’s to stop the next developer from coming in, buying property that they likely know they can’t develop, then coming to the city and asking us to bend the rules for them,” said Goldfinch. “Where does it stop?”

The property, like most around it, is zoned for Core Commercial, which promotes development with a downtown feel to the structures.

Dollar General is looking for Highway Commercial, which is much less restrictive.

Goldfinch, and several fellow council members, feel like they shouldn’t have to change the zoning to something that doesn’t fit the area just because they want to see the medical facility come in.

“These are all wonderful businesses and organizations that we’d love to have in this community and especially to revitalize that section of 4th Avenue,” said Goldfinch. “We’ve just got to get it right.”

Goldfinch said Dollar General could build with the current zoning, but it would require substantially changing the design for the new building.

The city council wants to make sure it makes the right move here, so it’s going to send the rezoning request back to planning commission for one more look.

Then, it will likely be back for a vote from the city council in the first week of May.

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