By Paul Gable
It appears that a last ditch effort by the environmentalists to confuse the facts about paving International Drive is in motion.
Several recent reports in local, state and social media show the Coastal Conservation League and its allies are in spin mode about what is really happening.
After Horry County announced it was starting work on the International Drive road bed so it would be ready to handle emergency vehicles in 40-60 days, a post on the South Carolina Environmental Law Project Facebook page stated, “Yesterday we filed a notice of appeal and a motion for stay in our Bays & Bears case after we learned that Horry County began clearing for the construction of International Drive on Monday.”
Continuing legal action by the environmentalists is no surprise. This case has gone beyond the issues involved to a mano a mano showdown between the environmentalists and county officials.
However, it appears that the only avenue left for legal action by SCELP and the groups it represents is challenging the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal court.
For the time being, Horry County has the necessary permits in hand and is using county employees for the work on the road bed.
The spin on the issue, however, started with the second sentence in the post, which read, “Still excited by the bulldozer photo-op, County Officials “told it like it is” about the whole project: hundreds, even thousands of new homes to be built along the road. So much for the public safety and emergency access invocations during the March trial.”
The post was apparently referring to a comment Horry County Council member Paul Prince was quoted as making to The State newspaper.
The State article reads, “It’s long overdue and I sure am glad they are out there starting work on it,’’ Prince told The State newspaper. “I’m an animal lover. I don’t want to get rid of bears. But …. that area is eventually going to get more and more people. I don’t know that bears are going to survive in that area with the hundreds and thousands of new homes to be built.’’
Prince did not say “the hundreds and thousands of new homes to be built” would be along International Drive. Anyone who knows the area knows one side of International Drive is bordered by Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. The other side contains considerable acres of wetlands. The type of development referred to in the post is not a realistic possibility.
The “area” of development Prince was obviously referring to is Carolina Forest where new sub-divisions will appear in the years to come. Rather than contradicting statements by Horry County officials in the March trial, Prince’s statement (when put in its proper context) supports them.
International Drive is needed now for additional public safety and emergency access to the Carolina Forest area. It will become more important as development in Carolina Forest continues in the future.
The issues of the case have already been settled. All that remains for the environmentalists is to muddy the waters with political spin and a last desperate attempt in federal court.