Grand Strand Humane Society: Rankin at center of local controversy again

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

According to Horry County Councilman Bill Howard, Horry County Council on Tuesday reversed its support for a land lease donation from Santee Cooper to the Grand Strand Humane Society.

This after the all of the residents of Piedmont and Waterside Drive sent in a signed petition asking County Council to rescind the support. One resident that called MyrtleBeachSC News stated not even one resident in the community supported the project.

Santee Cooper began leasing land to the Grand Strand Humane Society in November to build a new facility near the Coastal Grand Mall off Highway 17.

This donation was initially supported by Horry County Council, but it has since been reversed. Howard told local media that the county’s approval is purely ceremonial.

We didn’t realize the site was where it was, and they could clear cut all the way back to the houses,” Howard said.

In order to be neutral on the land lease, the council reversed the resolution. According to officials, the council does not have a say in whether the Grand Strand Humane Society receives the land. The land is zoned appropriately for a shelter, so a zoning change will not have to be approved by the council.

The Grand Strand Humane Society Board is headed by Lindsey Bonds Rankin. Her husband is the powerful Luke Rankin who sits on the chair of the Senate Judiciary. He also chairs the South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee which allowed Santee Cooper to proceed with a now failed $9.8 Billion V.C. Summer Nuclear facility. It will be Rankin’s committee that approves the land agreement between the Grand Strand Animal Shelter and Santee Cooper.

In November, neighbors complained to council members about the potential location of the shelter, which is across the street from seven houses and within a half mile of 40 homes.

South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee has not yet approved the land agreement.

Grand Strand Humane Society has chosen this location for a second new facility. The animal shelter withdrew its zoning application for a location along River Oaks Drive after neighbors expressed concern that it would be too close to residential areas.

A denial would have barred the 50-year-old nonprofit from pitching the project for at least a year, so pulling its request was a strategic decision.

Since the Grand Strand Humane Society has outgrown its current building, it wants to build a larger facility.

Residents from Waterside Drive and Piedmont reached out to MyrtleBeachSC News today.

Said one resident:

My neighbors and I live on Waterside Drive (a waterway community) that has a large 16 acre track owned by Santee Cooper next to it. We found out recently that after owning the property since the 1950’s that Santee Cooper was giving the Grand Strand Humane Society 10+ acres to build their new facility. They were actually doing a 40 year lease for $1.00. 

At first everyone was baffled how this could all happen so fast, and the board of Santee Cooper be behind it. Even more interesting is that Myrtle Beach City Council passed a resolution in support of it in October, Horry County passed a resolution in support of it in November, and the board of Santee Cooper voted to approve it on December 4th.  

We were also baffled on why Santee Cooper would donate their land to a Dog Pound when the land is 30 feet away from other residential houses. 

Upon calling every single County Council Person almost all of them said that we needed to reach out to Luke Rankin. As we did more research, it turns out that Luke’s wife just so happens to be the President of the Grand Strand Humane Society, and recently faced a humiliating defeat on the rezoning a different piece of property due to the residents being outraged that they were putting it next to a residential neighborhood. This Santee Cooper property is zoned LI, so that it would not have to be rezoned. 

As we talked to different politicians throughout this process, we found that at almost every corner the “fix was in”. Even to the point that when we asked our District County Councilman Gary Loftus who submitted the resolution, he said that “no one knows who submitted the resolution, or how it got into the consent agenda.”


Thankfully we were able to get the Horry County Council to rescind their resolution last night. But we believe that there is an obvious conflict here with Luke Rankin’s influence here over Santee Cooper and it’s board members, and his wife being the president of the non-profit that they are giving millions of dollars of land to use for 40 years for $1 (without anyone else being able to bid). Especially when they are billions in the negative. 

Said another resident, the neighborhood was plotted in 1959. In 1962, Santee Cooper put up it’s facility in the community. The community actually pre-exists Santee Cooper in this area.

Rankin is up for re-election in this June’s primary. All of these residents live in his district.

After ongoing controversies, read the Grand Strand Humane Society Board Member resignation here.

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