Grand Strand Humane Society Cleared for Construction of Waterside Drive Animal Shelter

By Paul Gable

The Grand Strand Humane Society is cleared to begin construction of its animal shelter and associated businesses, according to a briefing of the Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation Committee yesterday.

According to the details of that briefing, the property on Waterside Drive to which the Humane Society was given a 40-year gratis lease by owner Santee Cooper, the property was zoned LI (Limited Industrial) in 1987 and one of the approved uses since that time is animal services.

According to the briefing, the text amendment to the LI zoning classification, which was approved by county council in December 2023, had nothing to do with the Humane Society’s use of the property.

Despite the legal clearance, the residents of the Waterside Drive community are unhappy about the potential impacts the animal shelter and associated businesses will have on their neighborhood.

While the lease from Santee Cooper to the GSHS was being considered, Santee Cooper officials expressed concern about the impact of the shelter on neighbors. Santee Cooper Chief Power Supply Officer Marty Watson expressed two concerns about the site in an email, “proximity to housing on one side and noise from the turbines on the other side.” Watson went on to say Santee Cooper management and Board of Directors “may be concerned re fallout from the neighbors.”

However, fallout from the neighbors did not appear to stop GSHS officials, who decided on the site after having a rezoning application for a site on River Oaks Drive rejected by county council in Spring 2023. At the time, county council members expressed a desire to help the Humane Society find a suitable site “not near residential neighborhoods.”

Council member Gary Loftus told the I&R Committee members, “I think we all know how this came about. For those that don’t, well we have a senator who happens to be chairman of the committee that oversees Santee Cooper, hence the price of the land to the Humane Society because the head of the Humane Society would be the wife of said senator. So we all know how that happened without the knowledge of us.” The senator Loftus referred to is Sen. Luke Rankin whose District 33 includes the Waterside Drive community.

Loftus requested I&R Committee members to move forward on establishing an overlay district to stop the Humane Society plans for the property. However, it is probably already too late for an overlay district to be applied without throwing the issue into an extended lawsuit against the county.

Loftus was correct in pointing out the real problem is Sen. Rankin ignoring the negative quality of life impacts expressed by his constituents in order to appease a family member.

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