PAWLEYS ISLAND,SC (WMBF) -After a third and final vote on the proposed plans for the development of Pawleys Plaza Georgetown County Council will allow construction to begin.
The vote passed under the terms that the buildings cannot be larger than 60,000 sq. ft.
At previous council meetings protestors lined the sidewalk outside Waccamaw High School, the site of the hearing, before the meeting began. The Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, and the grassroots group called "Don't Box the Neck" all showed up to protest the idea of changing the rules to allow bigger stores to build in Pawleys Island Plaza.
At least 90 people signed up to give their two cents on the proposal, one that many worried could pave the way for a big box retailer like Wal-Mart. Coastal Conservation League spokeswoman Nancy Cave said the effort was all about making sure residents voices were heard.
"[We wanted to] demonstrate to elected officials and their appointees that they do not want a big box store because of its impacts on the community from a business standpoint," Cave said. "It will [have] a very negative impact on local business."
Some county officials, like Georgetown County Director of Planning and Code Enforcement, said as it stands now, the area needs the changes to revitalize the shopping center.
"We see this as a redevelopment of a property that is [currently] not enhancing the area," Boyd said. "It's making an already big box a little bit bigger…but we do think it would be an enhancement to the area."
For nearly three hours, those in attendance voiced their concerns or approval during the public hearing. One speaker said she believed a big box retailer would help the area during a sluggish economy.
"We do need those jobs here," the woman said. "I would like for you to support this project…because we need it."
But others, like Richard Moore, said he worried the retailer could end up a ghost town if the economy doesn't turn around.
"[We see] continued vacancies and commercial production all along highway 17," Moore said. "It [raises the question] whether this site can support such a large development at all?"