By Paul Gable
Normally local governments are in a holiday lull between Thanksgiving and the first few days of the New Year, but that has not been the case this year.
Last week’s fall budget retreat for Horry County Council saw lively, spirited debate on providing money for I-73 and the Horry County Solid Waste Authority’s (SWA) proposed new Solid Waste Management Plan. The debates among council members were only opening salvoes in what I predict will prove to be two high profile issues in the coming year.
The vote of county council members last week gave county staff the go ahead to enter into a contract with SCDOT to plan for expenditures on the I-73 route in Horry County. There is absolutely no justification to commit $25 million per year, bond that amount for 20 years for approximately $350 million in operating capital, only to construct a road that will end around Hwy 917 and the Marion County line.
Unless and until the state and federal governments are willing to commit serious money, at least a combined billion and a half dollars to I-73, it is not a serious project and we should not be wasting county money on a freeway to the rural hinterland.
After nearly 30 years of existence, it is time for the SWA to understand it was created to manage the disposal of the county’s solid waste in the most cost efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly manner.
This does not mean continued, mindless expansion of the Hwy 90 landfill in an environmentally sensitive area and at an ever increasing cost to county taxpayers.
The SWA was specifically charged in its establishment ordinance “to develop an acceptable alternative method of solid waste disposal and to reduce the tonnage of solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills due to the County’s high water table and other geologic characteristics that make utilization and expansion of existing landfills and the development of new landfills especially expensive and difficult.”
The proposed plan calls for continued horizontal and vertical expansion of the existing landfill footprint with spiraling costs. It is time for council to conduct its due diligence before voting on the proposed, new plan.
Another potential county issue before the end of 2018 is the proposed Tilly Swamp rezoning for approximately 1,500 homes off Hwy 90. The rezoning request was defeated at second reading by a 6-5 vote of council. After a recess, council member Paul Prince attempted to have the vote reconsidered. His attempt failed for lack of a quorum of council.
In the last several days, several council members have reported being approached by Prince who wishes to attempt to have the second reading vote reconsidered at the December 18, 2018 regular meeting of council.
This is an issue best left in the dead pile. Approximately 250 citizens attended the second reading meeting to demonstrate their opposition to the rezoning. After the council vote, they left the meeting believing the rezoning had been defeated.
Attempting to reconsider the rezoning now will only bring significant problems for those council members who may still support the rezoning. I have been told that at least one council member has changed his vote from “yes” and will now vote “no” if the matter is reconsidered.
The December 18th council meeting marks the end of the 2018 business year for council. With a new chairman and a new member for District 7 coming aboard January 1st, it will be interesting to see what the New Year brings.