DiSabato Asks for Another Deferral on Postal Way Rezonings

By Paul Gable

Tuesday night was supposed to be the night that Horry County Council would vote up or down on second reading of two rezonings, Chatham Crossing and Waters Tract, on Postal Way in the Carolina Forest area.

It didn’t happen. Instead, council member Dennis DiSabato moved for a second three-month deferral for the two rezonings, which were originally supposed to be voted upon at the May 16, 2023 regular meeting of council.

The citizens of Carolina Forest have never been in favor of these two rezonings. They expressed multiple concerns about the developments that would result during two community input events during Carolina Forest Civic Association meetings.

The minutes of the May 16th meeting provide interesting reading. During discussion before the motion to defer, DiSabato stated, “He and the developer had heard everyone’s concerns at the public input meeting they had in Carolina Forest a couple days prior. The developer had asked for a deferment, not for 90 days, but for a period not to exceed 90 days. They wanted an opportunity to go back to their client to see if there was anything that they could do to expand on the infrastructure to try and make this project more palatable to the community. They either would figure out very quickly that they could, or they could not. In either event, it would come back as something the community supported, and if not, it would come back quicker than 90 days and would be voted up or down based on what that outcome was.”

The motion to defer was for a period not to exceed 90 days to give the developers an opportunity to go back to their drawing board and come back to the county with something that was more acceptable to the community.

None of that happened. The first 90-day period was extended by two days at the July meeting of council so it could be taken up at Tuesday night’s meeting. Instead of being placed on the floor for a vote, it was extended another three months until the November 14, 2023 meeting of county council.

DiSabato has been pushing these rezonings since the beginning of the year as rezonings in which the developers had agreed to pay all the costs of public benefit infrastructure. They are not.

The cost estimates of the public benefit infrastructure are approximately $14 million, according to county staff estimates. Of this amount, the wording in the development agreements commits the developers to pay approximately $8.33 million of these costs. The county expects to receive $1-2 million from the state to help fund a new traffic light and interchange improvements on U. S. 501. This leaves the county on the hook for approximately $4 million.

In addition, no provision has been made for school construction, also public infrastructure, which will inevitably result from the expected 1,654 new housing units associated with the two developments.

DiSabato told one media outlet Tuesday night that there probably would not be any room to ask the developers for more concessions on the infrastructure.

During Tuesday’s short discussion, DiSabato warned that council members and the administrator of the City of Conway were already eyeing the properties in Chatham Crossing and Waters Tract for annexation. He warned, if annexation occurred, the county would have no control over what would happen on the properties and more dense development could result with no improvement to Postal Way.

This seems a hollow threat from DiSabato. Several Conway city council members have told Grand Strand Daily that no discussions about annexing the Postal Way properties have been held and none are currently on the horizon. Furthermore, the city is already considering two annexations, one along 701 South and another along 378. In addition, the city is considering how to close donut holes already existing within the current boundaries of Conway. Annexation of the Postal Way properties does not appear to be high if it is on Conway’s list of priorities at all.

If annexation of the Postal Way properties by Conway were a realistic proposition, why aren’t they already being acted upon since the rezonings by the county have not moved forward as promised by DiSabato back in May?

In making the motion to defer again, DiSabato said the extra time was needed for developers to “fine tune” their proposals before coming back to the county. However, in response to a question from a local tv reporter about whether the county planned to ask more from the developers to help please concerned members, DiSabato said, “I don’t know that there is going to be room to ask them to do more at this point.”

Nothing has changed in the development agreements since they were originally considered in the spring. DiSabato has twice deferred second reading of the rezonings – first to give developers a chance to expand infrastructure to come up with something more palatable to the community, which didn’t happen, and second to fine tune development agreements in which he said he doubts there is room to do more.

If nothing is going to change, why delay the vote?

DiSabato has earned himself a “dunce cap” for his bungling of this issue.

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