The Myrtle Beach Planning Commission amended the development plan for the International Technology and Aerospace Park at Myrtle Beach International Airport last week to provide for additional uses on the property.
The uses added are for medical offices and overflow parking for special events.
Much of the ITAP land was purchased from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Commission over 15 years ago with grant funds received from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Grant assurances signed by Horry County Department of Airports at the time of receipt of the funds require the land to be used for aviation purposes.
It is difficult to see how medical offices and overflow parking fit into the category of “aviation purposes”. It is conceivable that the city’s amendment places the county in violation of grant assurances given to the FAA.
However, such a violation would be just the latest in almost two decades of mistakes and wasteful spending on that piece of property by Horry County and other public agencies.
Initially, the land was intended as the site on which the, then planned, west side airport passenger terminal was to be built.
After the west side terminal project was cancelled in 2007 because of skyrocketing costs and numerous other miscalculations by county officials, county council and staff searched for a way to avoid paying back to the FAA the $5 million federal dollars spent on the land purchase.
This search led to the birth of the idea to build the international technology and aerospace park.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2011 complete with grandiose pronouncements by local officials, including 7th District Congressman Tom Rice (then chairman of county council), of the economic development and “5,000 jobs” the park would bring to Horry County within a “couple of years.”