By Paul Gable
The City of Myrtle Beach elections Tuesday could go a long way in determining the future success of the city.
The question is will the majority of voters continue to allow precincts serving the Dunes and Pine Lakes residents to determine the outcome?
Two years ago, voters seemed to be voting for change. What they got instead was a council of seven sheep who allow city manager John Pedersen to do whatever he wants.
After the election results of 2017, when Mayor John Rhodes and council member Randal Wallace were defeated and council member Wayne Gray chose not to run, Pedersen was overheard saying “Now I can run the city the way I want.”
And he has.
The first step was to put in place a ‘family friendly’ overlay zone on a section of Ocean Boulevard which was nothing but an attempt to run the Jewish merchants, who have been in business there for decades, out of business by claiming the CBD oil sold by those merchants was illegal. IT’S NOT!
The second step was to increase the secrecy surrounding the city’s central planning for special districts such as the ‘super block.’
After the city secretly bought most of the properties in the ‘super block’ and threatened an illegal use of eminent domain to acquire the remainder, citizens were told it was going to be redeveloped with a new library and children’s museum as the anchor.
What we have seen is those properties acquired by the city are not listed for sale nor has the city issued a general request for proposals opening the redevelopment process up to anyone who would wish to locate a business there. Only cronies are allowed to make proposals on those properties.
The library and children’s museum seem to have gone by the wayside as the only public announcements of new businesses to date have been an office for a Columbia based construction firm and a planned micro-brewery.
The micro-brewery is especially interesting in that the city forced out a bar, owned by a U.S. Army veteran, formerly located in the ‘super block’ and passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages in the district. After secret discussions, the city announced the micro-brewery and changed the ordinance to allow it.
The latest news we have heard is a swingers club wants to locate in one of the city’s centrally planned districts. I’m sure it has been vetted as a ‘family friendly’ swingers club. Maybe it includes babysitting services while the ‘action’ takes place.
Meanwhile, while all of this ‘Soviet style central planning’ is taking place, there are approximately 139 empty storefronts in the city, but outside the centrally planned districts, that are being ignored. Proposals for new businesses in some of those locations have been routinely turned down by city staff.
City officials are apparently in the business of picking winners and losers among the business community with no regard for the overall health of the city economy. They want their cronies in business and no one else.
The only answer to revitalizing Myrtle Beach is to vote out the ‘sheep’ on city council and replace them with independent thinkers who will challenge this central planning. Read Wayne Gray and Ed Carey here.
The future of the city rests with the voters on the traditional south end of the city as well as the newer Market Common communities who can make a difference Tuesday.