Tag: Horry County Council

County Council Vote Does Not Settle Issue of Development Height for Hwy 905 Sub-division

Horry County Council’s decision to not amend its supplemental flood zone regulations did not settle the issue that caused an amendment to be considered in the first place.
At the center of the issue is a plot of land sub-divided into 46 lots for development off of Hwy 905. The land was prepared for development in accordance with FEMA requirements.
Then, Horry County Council passed a new flood ordinance establishing flood zones supplemental to the FEMA maps and requiring homes in those areas to be built a further three feet above FEMA required levels.
Initially, the developers were assured by county staff members that the 46-lot project would be grandfathered to the requirements before the new flood ordinance was passed. Then, according to sources familiar with the issue, county staff reversed its position and said the new supplemental flood zone requirements would have to be met by this project.
Great Southern Homes, the developer of the land, immediately appealed the latest version from county staff to the Horry County Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals. The county board found in favor of the developer, granting the appeal.

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County Council to Vote on Accommodations Tax Tourism Promotion Appropriation Tonight

Horry County Council will consider extending its contract with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for distribution of the 30% accommodations tax collections state law mandates must go for tourism promotion.
The extension will be for one final year. Next year a new contract must be negotiated by the county and it is hoped other direct marketing organizations will step forward to compete with the Chamber for this contract.
When the accommodations tax enabling legislation was passed by the General Assembly over 20 years ago, the provision mandating 30% of the revenue collected must be spent for tourism promotion was included specifically at the request of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and its CEO at the time Ashby Ward.
The Chamber was a struggling organization at the time with membership dues providing most of its operating revenue and a modest little white building on Kings Highway serving as its headquarters.
Accommodations tax money provided the Chamber with its first taste of a steady stream of public tax dollars into its coffers. Over the first decade of this century, ‘greed is good’ apparently became the unofficial motto with grants from the General Assembly added to those coffers and, beginning in 2009, the institution of the tourism development fee.

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Lazarus Appeals HCGOP Denial of Illegal Election Protest Amid Apparent Misrepresentation of Facts

Mark Lazarus has appealed the decision of the Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee to deny his request for a new runoff primary election for county council chairman.
A hearing of the appeal has been scheduled before the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee on Thursday July 14, 2022, in Columbia beginning at 6:30 p. m.
However, there is no legal basis for the SCGOP Executive Committee to hear that appeal.
The formal appeal document, prepared by Lazarus attorney Butch Bowers, contains apparent false statements about facts which render the entire protest and appeal process null and void.
The HCGOP Executive Party voted 40-5 with two abstentions to dismiss the protest on the grounds that it was not filed by the deadline mandated in state law.
State code Sec. 7-17-520 states, “The protests and contests in the case of county officers and less than county officers shall be filed in writing with the chairman of the county party executive committee, together with a copy for each candidate in the race not later than noon Monday following the day of the declaration by the county committee of the result of the election.”
Bowers did not file the election protest until 8:35 a. m. Tuesday July 5, 2022, in an electronic notification sent to and verified by the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.

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Lazarus Biggest Primary Loser Because He Couldn’t Fool All the People or Even a Majority

Now that primary elections are completed, the biggest loser can be identified as Mark Lazarus in his bid to regain the post of Horry County Council Chairman.
Lazarus went into this campaign absolutely certain that his defeat by incumbent Chairman Johnny Gardner in 2018 was an aberration and that he would without question win a rematch this year.
Lazarus had a funding edge of approximately 10 to 1 over Gardner when donations to his campaign and the three PACs who sent mailers or paid for television ads to support his candidacy are totaled.
A funding edge of 10 to 1 should be enough to win any race. But it wasn’t, mainly because Lazarus could not escape the load of baggage he carried with him from his five and one-half years as county chairman from 2013-2018.
Lazarus could not escape the fact that he called the county first responders “Thugs” four years ago. He couldn’t escape his tight ties with the local cabal, his willingness to spend local government revenue on Interstate 73 construction instead of local road improvements and the anything goes development atmosphere that was pervasive throughout the county during his time as chairman.
And the Lazarus campaign strategy of attempting to rewrite his history as chairman, then going negative on Gardner was awful. Blame that on his campaign consultant Walter Whetsell and his Starboard Communications.

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Council Member Bill Howard Cost His Constituents Two Years in Their Attempt to Prohibit Discharge of Fireworks in Their Neighborhoods

Horry County Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday night, referred Ordinance 155-2021, dealing with the establishment of “Fireworks Free Zones” in the county, back to the county Public Safety Committee for further study before considering third reading of the ordinance.
If the ordinance ever passes third reading, it appears inevitable it will be struck down by state courts because of the legally settled Doctrine of Preemption.
State law, section 23-35-175 (c), states “an owner, a lessee or managing authority of real property may establish a Fireworks Prohibited Zone by (1) filing a Discharge of Fireworks Prohibited Agreement with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the subject property.”
The Doctrine of Preemption simply stated holds if the law of a higher government authority, in this case S. C. Code sec. 23-35-175(c), preempts the law of a lower government authority, in this case Horry County Ordinance 155-2021, then the law of the lower government authority is declared invalid.
Or, in this case, it appears the procedure for establishing a “Fireworks Prohibited Zone” in sec. 23-35-175(c) of state law preempts the procedure for establishing a “Fireworks Free Zone” in county Ordinance 155-2021.
Why has county attorney Arrigo Carotti not informed council of this probable result during council discussions of the ordinance?
It would seem stopping the ordinance now, since the procedure for fireworks prohibition already exists in state law, would be preferable to passing third reading of the ordinance only to see it struck down in state court after thousands of dollars of taxpayer money is spent trying to defend the indefensible.

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County Council to Consider Third Reading of Illegal Fireworks Prohibition Ordinance

Horry County Council has a final chance to stop passage of an illegal fireworks ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
If a majority of council insists on voting to approve third reading of Ordinance 155-2021 “providing for the regulation of the discharge of fireworks within the county by the way of establishing county no fireworks areas”, as the agenda item reads, council will have accomplished nothing other than opening the county up to another waste of taxpayer dollars lawsuit that it will lose.
This proposed ordinance has received no better legal scrutiny than the one that saw council unilaterally eliminate the sunset clause on the county’s original hospitality fee legislation under the urging of Mark Lazarus. The county lost every court ruling in the lawsuit challenging that action before coming to a settlement with the cities that challenged the ordinance.
GSD has contacted representatives of the fireworks industry who have said the association will immediately challenge the legality of the ordinance in court, if it is passed.
The state fireworks association is already seriously considering challenging the fireworks prohibition ordinances in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, which are also illegal under state law.
Readers should note Surfside Beach recently made major amendments to fireworks prohibitions within the town limits similar to those in place in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. Discussion among council about removing fireworks prohibitions in Surfside Beach centered around the illegality of the prohibitions.
Why would county council consider passing an ordinance that so clearly ignores the requirements outlined in state law for establishing fireworks prohibited zones?
Why would county staff draft an ordinance that clearly ignores state law?
Political considerations apparently outweighing obeying state law in this case.

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County Staff Puts Council Members in No Win Position with Fireworks and Sexual Predator Ordinances

Horry County Council is currently considering two ordinances that appear to be attempted end runs around state law and with the probability they will both be declared unconstitutional when challenged.
One of those ordinances deals with establishing “fireworks free zones” by resolution of county council “in addition to those designated fireworks prohibited zones” under state law.
The other ordinance states the “County Council desires to protect minors” by adding additional requirements and monitoring for ‘child oriented’ businesses by attempting to root out potential sexual predators before issuing business licenses.
In a county whose politicians profess to be so very “conservative”, these ordinances are vast expansions of governmental regulation into the private sector. And just because a new law is passed, there is no guarantee that less fireworks will be discharged in a given area or children will be more protected from potential predators.
The county doesn’t have the resources to effectively enforce the provisions of either ordinance.
Having ordinances that are unenforceable or illegal drafted and put into the legislative process is a failure on the part of county senior staff.
While council sets policy and staff carries out that policy, staff members are not excused in this process from failing to point out to council what is bad or illegal policy. In the case of these ordinances, we have both bad and illegal policy. Why do we have a county legal staff, for example, if this is not the case?

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County Council a Step Closer to Passing Illegal Fireworks Prohibition Ordinance

Horry County Council passed second reading of a proposed ordinance that would allow council to restrict the use of fireworks in zones of their choosing in direct violation of state law.
One would think a county government currently in the process of refunding over one million dollars of illegally collected stormwater fees would pay close attention to what it can and what it can’t do with regard to state law.
Evidently not!
Because one thing is certain, the proposed ordinance, which would allow county council by resolution to establish fireworks prohibited zones in the unincorporated areas of the county, is in direct violation of state law.
The proposed ordinance, as written, directly contravenes both the spirit and letter of state law.
The proposed ordinance, 155-2021, sub-section c states: “County No Fireworks Areas shall be any geographic location, as determined by County Council, wherein the prohibition against fireworks under this section is deemed appropriate. Such areas may be designated only by Resolution of County Council and must state with adequate specificity the area encompassed as to be readily identifiable by the general public and Horry County officials and employees.”
State law, section 23-35-175 (C) states “an owner, a lessee or managing authority of real property may establish a Fireworks Prohibited Zone by (1) filing a Discharge of Fireworks Prohibited Agreement with the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the subject property.”

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Chamber Political Brochure Explodes into Fight with Horry County and Voters

You have to give Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Riordan credit, if there’s a way to make relations with Horry County Council members worse than they already are, she will find it.
Last week saw the Chamber send out a mail piece full of information that ranged from misleading to totally false. In today’s lexicon – Fake News
Members of county council took immediate offense at Riordan and Chamber Government Liaison Jimmy Gray, the two Chamber officials hired to replace the work of Brad Dean after Dean resigned from the Chamber and who were, reportedly, responsible for the mailer’s contents.
County council member Harold Worley led a 25-minute discussion about the real facts versus the fictitious Chamber version of the I-73 funding debate, at the end of last week’s regular meeting.
“The only thing in the Chamber brochure that was true was the one-lane on 501,” Worley said. “Everything else was a lie.”
The message in the brochure was, “Tell Horry County Council it’s time to fund I-73.”
And Riordan and her cabal minions are using these tactics to pressure county council into committing funding for Interstate 73. How’s that going?
This situation would never have happened under the watch of former Chamber CEO Brad Dean!
The two biggest whoppers in the brochure:
“We (Myrtle Beach) were one lane away from being cut off. The construction of Interstate 73 would ensure this never happens again.”
And
“Funding from the federal, state and local governments is lined up.”
Two quick responses:

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More on Crawford Dismissal from CCU

One week ago, local media posted stories on events surrounding the dismissal, in November 2019, of Horry County Council member Cam Crawford from his position at Coastal Carolina University.
According to the stories and documents released by CCU, an investigation into Title IX complaints by a female student who also worked under the supervision of Crawford was conducted by the university. Findings from that investigation supported ‘continuous physical contact with student employee supervisees, which included hugging and touching of hand and/or arm,’ and evidence supporting ‘kissing of a student employee’s head’.
Crawford responded to questions from the media claiming the woman misinterpreted his “Southern mannerisms”, that he did not believe he did anything wrong and that there were political motivations behind the media being informed of his dismissal from CCU.
Nevertheless, a female student registered a complaint with the university, the university conducted an investigation and Crawford is no longer employed by CCU.
Crawford’s response brings to mind statements by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo when Cuomo resigned as governor after 11 women came forward claiming Cuomo had sexually harassed them.
Cuomo was quoted in media as stating, “As an Italian, I have always kissed and hugged in a casual way, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone… I accept full responsibility, I slipped, but there are political motivations behind the accusations, and I am sure New Yorkers will understand,”
Strikingly similar statements from two politicians on opposite ends of the political spectrum, except Cuomo took responsibility while Crawford did not.
But the similarities between the two cases end there. Once women began stepping forward with accusations against Cuomo, stories continued in the New York media, Cuomo’s former political allies distanced themselves from him and ultimately Cuomo resigned as governor.
In Horry County, Crawford’s leaving CCU employ remained a secret for two years and there has been virtually no comment from other local politicians.
Freedom of Information requests to CCU from two local newspapers were handled completely differently. According to a story in the Sun News, the newspaper filed a FOIA request with the university in October 2021, requesting documents related to “any disciplinary action taken by Coastal…including notices of termination or suspension, reprimands , etc.” as well as “any complaints or other documents submitted to Coastal by students, staff, professors, administration or the public regarding Mr. Crawford, his employment, his job performance and his conduct/behavior.”

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