By Paul Gable
Horry County Council faces an interesting conundrum Tuesday night when it considers second reading of Ordinance 113-19, which is a request for rezoning a parcel of approximately 129 acres on Four Mile Road.
The rezoning requests a change from the current zoning of Commercial Forest Agriculture (CFA) on the parcel to SF10 (minimum lot size of 10,000 sq. ft.) for 202 single family detached homes.
The land is located near the Conway end of the Highway 319 Area Plan which was established in 2011 to limit the impact of residential development and maintain the rural character of the area.
The 319 Area Plan calls for minimum lot size of 20,000 sq. ft. for single family homes. The request was recommended for disapproval by the Horry County Planning staff but recommended for approval by the county Planning Commission by a 5-4 vote.
Some residents in the area expressed concerns about lot size, potential stormwater runoff and increased traffic from the proposed development. The residents were upset that the minimum lot size they expected for single family homes in the area plan was twice the size being requested by the developer. They felt the 319 Area Plan minimums should be adhered to.
In a perfect world the residents demanding adherence to 20,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size would probably win their point. However, zoning and development within Horry County is far from a perfect world.
The current CFA zoning would allow the developer to build three units per gross acre of multi-family housing with no approval needed from county council to proceed. The residents opposing the rezoning that I spoke with after one planning commission meeting were unaware of this provision in CFA zoning.
The developer stated in several meetings with the residents and planning staff that he was prepared to go forward with multi-family housing if the request for rezoning for single family homes was voted down, in order to protect his investment in the property.
Therefore, in opposing the rezoning because the requested lot size is only one-half of that in the 319 Area Plan, the residents in the area would see as many as 387 units of multi-family housing built on the parcel instead of 202 single family homes.
If housing density, traffic and stormwater runoff are really concerns of the residents, it is obvious they should be supporting the proposed rezoning instead of opposing it because one way or another that parcel of land is going to be developed and 202 single family homes will produce less density, traffic and stormwater runoff than 387 multi-family units.
Adjacent to the property in question there already exists a development of approximately 60 homes on 10,000 sq. ft. lots that many of the residents spoke approvingly of.
The requested rezoning is the best option for the residents in the area but do they understand this? Does council understand this? Will the council vote be swayed by residents opposing the rezoning while not really understanding the ramifications of the rezoning request being voted down?
Development is not going to stop in Horry County. Certainly, it should be the best development that is possible within the boundaries of current zoning and county ordinances.
In this case, the requested rezoning is the preferred development. But, if the rezoning request is voted down, bad development will result because good development was denied.