By Paul Gable
During its regular meeting Tuesday night, Horry County Council passed third reading of a rezoning and development agreement that will allow nearly 1,300 homes to be built in the Buck Creek community.
The vote was 7-4 to approve the rezoning despite pleas from residents in nearby Arbor Glen to turn the development down.
The majority of council members who voted to approve the development rezoning got the cover they needed from county staff to attempt to justify their Yes vote.
The development meets county standards for stormwater management, which are based on 25 year flood projections for normal rainstorms, according to statements by staff. The standard of the 25 year flood is quite low, but meets state requirements.
There was much discussion that Hurricane Florence was a historic event, which is true. However, when taken into consideration with the flooding brought on in the state and local area by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999, we can say the flooding from Hurricane Florence was historic but should not have been a huge surprise.
These flooding events are becoming more common, but county officials are apparently satisfied that planning stormwater management for the 25 year flood is sufficient and anything beyond that can be attributed as God’s Will.
It was pointed out that the land for the specific development approved Tuesday did not flood from the effects of Hurricane Florence and one access road to the property remained open after the storm. However, no one really knows what will happen to the area and its access roads, or other areas and their access roads in the development pipeline, during similar storm events as those mentioned above when nature is replaced by the concrete and macadam associated with new sub-divisions.
Council member Paul Prince, in whose Council District 9 the new development will be built, proudly said he toured his district after the storm and the Longs community and the rest of the district fared well compared to other areas of the county.
In his travels Prince evidently did not see, through his rose colored glasses, the Aberdeen, Polo Farms and Colonial Charters communities or the flooding of homes on the west side of portions along Hwy 90 to name a few areas of District 9 that flooded severely.
Council member Harold Worley, who led the opposition to the ordinance asked the key question of the night, “Do we have the fortitude on this council to change what we’re doing?”
Worley answered his question with a prediction, “If you continue to vote for these developments, you’ll be voted out (of office).”
Worley’s question and answer drew applause from the audience.
In the past, Horry County allowed development in areas that should never have been developed. (There is a reason Horry County was referred to as the “impenetrable swamp” on 1800’s maps.)
A majority of council members continue to hang their hats on the county’s stormwater management plan, which is something, but not much.
The key question now is will a majority of voters agree with Worley that changes have to be made or will they continue to settle for business as usual?