By Paul Gable
The Horry County ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) is currently at the center of a growing controversy centered on the Pine Island community.
After hearing testimony over three months, the Horry County ZBA overturned a ruling by the Horry County Zoning Administrator with respect to DT LLC, a long time business in the Pine Island area owned by the Thompkins family currently run by Dennis Thompkins.
Normally members of the public are unaware of a zoning board of appeals decision unless it directly affects their property. The Horry County ZBA has quasi-judicial duties that require those speaking on either side of an issue to be sworn in.
DT LLC is a general contracting and demolition business, which, among other operations, crushes certain construction and demolition materials onsite.
According to the zoning administrator, the Thompkins business may only crush materials that come from its own demolition activities.
However, according to testimony presented by Thompkins and backed up with business invoices, the Thompkins business has routinely, over the years, accepted C&D materials from other contractors for crushing. Therefore, Thompkins attorney argued before the ZBA, the crushing of third party C&D material predates zoning restrictions of the county and should be allowed to continue to accept third party waste for crushing onsite.
The Horry County ZBA voted 5-3 agreeing that an “acceptable accessory use of the applicant (Thompkins) made the acceptance of outside (third party) loads of recoverable materials” permissible.
However, since the decision by the Horry County ZBA at its April 13, 2015 meeting, a public outcry has erupted that the Thompkins property will become a de facto C&D solid waste transfer station, something not allowed under Horry County ordinances.
According to sources with knowledge of the issue, at least one member of the Horry County ZBA has notified the board chairman that he wishes to reconsider the vote at the upcoming Monday May 11, 2015 meeting of the Horry County ZBA.
According to those sources, Thompkins’ attorney has sent a letter threatening a lawsuit against members of the Horry County ZBA and Horry County Solid Waste Authority officials, if the decision is reconsidered.
According to sources in Horry County government, the county could possibly make an appeal to circuit court of the Horry County ZBA decision if it is not changed.
Additionally, Christian Academy, which opened a new school facility on Ronald McNair Boulevard in the Pine Island area last year, weighed into the controversy recently. Its board chairman sent an email expressing concern about the additional traffic generated on Ronald McNair Boulevard by dump trucks going to the Thompkins site.
The Pine Island community has long been beset with problems from heavy equipment operations such as rock crushing, concrete batch plants and asphalt plants in its area. Community members testified before the board to concerns about dust and other potential atmospheric problems from large crushing operations at the Thompkins site.
The next focal point for the controversy will be the regular meeting of the Horry County ZBA scheduled for Monday May 11, 2015 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Horry County Government and Justice Complex.
Regardless of what happens at that meeting with respect to reconsideration of the vote, circuit court appears to be a future venue.