By Paul Gable
The Horry County Planning Commission voted 4-3 last week to recommend disapproval of a proposal to rezone nearly 900 acres in the Tilly Swamp for residential development.
The Planning Commission joined the county’s planning staff in recommending disapproval of the rezoning.
A portion of the acreage is already zoned SF 10. The request is to rezone that portion and the portion currently zoned commercial forest agriculture to SF 7, a change that would allow a higher density of homes to be built on the properties allowing developers to make more money.
Residents showed up in force to express disapproval for the proposed rezoning. They expressed concerns about lack of infrastructure, police and fire services the area already experiences. An expansion of nearly 1,500 new homes would only exacerbate those problems.
The citizens’ comments were a factor in the disapproval. Another factor is the rezoning request runs counter to the county’s current comprehensive plan and the updated comprehensive plan in the process of being approved. Both plans list the area being considered for rezoning as ‘scenic and conservation.’
A county comprehensive plan is a requirement of state law. It must be updated every 10 years. The county is currently completing that update.
The comprehensive plan goes through a process of consultation with the planning staff, research into current conditions and public input, all of which is used to develop needs, goals and implementation strategies. The plan is then presented to the Planning Commission with another 30-day window for public input before it is completed.
It is sent to county council with a resolution for approval adopted by the Planning Commission. At the council level it is adopted by a three reading county ordinance making it county law.
The portion of the area in question already zoned for residential was rezoned prior to enactment of the current comprehensive plan.
The rezoning request already received first reading approval from Horry County Council at its October 2, 2018 regular meeting. The request now goes back to council for second reading and public review at its November 13, 2018 regular meeting.
If council chooses to ignore the recommendations of its planning staff and planning commission, the current comprehensive plan ordinance and the public input of its citizens and approve second reading of the rezoning, it will be obvious the entire process is a sham.
Council approval on second reading will signal that all the committees, commissions, county ordinances, comprehensive plans and public hearings mean nothing. At the decision making level of the county, i.e. county council, the only thing that matters is what the developers want.
In fact, county council can reduce the updated county comprehensive plan down to one page containing but four words – “Whatever the developers want.”