Controversy surrounds new development project in Pawleys Island

Published: Sep. 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM EDT
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PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - A meeting will be held Monday night in an effort to make the Pawleys Island community more aware of what type of reconstruction developments will be made to the Pawleys Island Plaza.

DDC Engineer Mike Wooten said Walmart is one of several large retail stores looking at the property, but no commitments have been made.

Even so, the very idea of a store such as Walmart moving into Pawleys Island has people in the community on both sides of the fence.

"This is not something that Pawleys Island needs nor wants," Nan Gadek said.

"It'll look beautiful. It'll spice up and brighten up and beautify Pawleys Island," Patrick Tole said.

Monday's meeting is meant to allow anyone to ask questions, and voice their concerns about the redevelopment project that's just in its beginning stages. Many Pawleys Island residents are opposed to the idea of a large retail store disrupting their tight-knit community. Gadek started a Facebook page and someone else started a petition.  Both did it in an effort to show how unhappy they are about the idea.

"That's the biggest fear is that this Walmart or any large big box store is going to take away business from the small business owners, from all of our small surf shops, our small clothing stores our small restaurants. Pawleys Island small businesses are thriving. We do not need a large store like Walmart in this area," Gadek said.

John Boyd owns a furniture shop in Garden City that sits right across from the Walmart that's only been open a couple years. He says he welcomed the new addition, because like the Pawleys Island Plaza, before the Walmart came, the area around his store was home to many vacant buildings.

"I was excited because it was a vacant old Winn Dixie and a vacant A&P… two strip malls that were there, an eyesore. So, it sorta cosmetically was an improvement to the city. Not only that, but a lot of increased exposure by higher traffic," Boyd said.

As the reconstruction project in Pawleys Island prepares to begin, those opposed said they'll continue to voice their concerns, while others in the community think a large retail store will improve the area, one way, by bringing in more jobs.

"This is actually the center of Pawleys Island right here. So if we can get some nice storefronts put in here and get some nice little restaurants and shops, it's gonna look great up front. {So} you won't even see the Walmart back here," Patrick Tole said.

The Georgetown County Planning Commission will hold a meeting Thursday, September 20th. Many people opposed to a large retail store moving into Pawleys Island are expected to voice their concerns at that meeting as well.

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