County officials mull options in helicopter noise controversy

Published: Jun. 7, 2012 at 11:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM EDT
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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) Horry County Officials are looking into ways to mitigate the effects of a new Myrtle Beach helicopter attraction on residents living nearby.

Helicopter Adventures on 21st Avenue provides helicopter tours around the city, but residents like Leslie Anderson in the Plantation Point neighborhood nearby have been complaining about the noise since the attraction opened.

"It's a problem that should have been addressed before business licenses were issued," Anderson said.  "Now we've got bigger problems."

According to County Planning Director Janet Carter, Helicopter Adventures owner Freddie Rick has followed the law in every respect and therefore has every right to be in operation.

But County Councilman and Public Safety Committee Chair Brent Schulz argued during an Horry County Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday he believes the Helicopter Adventures property was zoned incorrectly.

Carter defended the Planning and Zoning Departments decision to allow Helicopter Adventures to operate zoned as an Amusement – Commercial Property under Horry County zoning laws, but admitted the laws have not been updated since 1987.  Carter also said she wishes she had made a more concerted effort to notify Horry County Council about the attraction before it opened.

"I could have done a better job," Carter said.  "I could have told him to come back when the plans are submitted and we'll circulate this information more broadly."

Schulz asked Public Safety and Zoning officials to look into possible changes to zoning laws that would create language to regulate where companies similar to Helicopter Adventures can and can't operate.  Any zoning law changes would not impact Helicopter Adventures because they would be grand fathered in with their current license to operate.

Schulz also asked county officials to install noise meters and perform an independent study on the actual noise impact of Helicopter Adventures, based on the noise created at homes closest to the attraction, as well as potentially shortening Helicopter Adventures' hours of operation.

Anderson said she and several other neighbors in Plantation Point are considering legal action if other avenues fail.

"It seems like we have very few avenues of recourse," Anderson said.  "Some people have talked about hiring an attorney to represent us in court.  Maybe take a case actually to court."

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