Sharon Pollard spoke at last Tuesday’s Myrtle Beach Women’s Republican Club Luncheon. She spoke in the presence of one key Horry County Councilman.
Her words were clear. “Let’s pack next Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting.”
Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus recently lost a narrow defeat to incoming Chairman-Elect Johnny Gardner. Gardner’s term begins January 2019. Voters were clear. They expect responsible growth. For Horry County residents, that means charging impact fees to developers like Beazer Homes, Bill Clark Homes, Lennar, Kolter Homes, Clayton Homes, and David Stradinger’s Dock Street Communities at Market Common.
In truth, growth costs money. Horry County is one of the fastest growing counties in America, with an annual rate of 22 percent. That growth requires new roads, new schools, more teachers, more firemen, and more first responders.
Residents say charging Impact Fees makes great sense.
- Impact Fees charge growth to those profiting from that growth.
- They raise overall home values for new construction and secondary homes.
- They raise the overall tax base of homes because of the overall appreciation values created by impact fees.
- They help existing home owners get more for the homes they have already invested in.
COUNTY COUNCIL MISDIRECTION – Changing the subject
Immediately after the Gardner win, however, Horry County Council met and floated a non-binding referendum on the November ballot to determine if residents wanted to vote for a county wide tax increase.
“It will be a referendum to ask the voters their opinion on the issue, if they want to raise their own taxes to improve safety in Horry County,” Horry County Councilman Tyler Servant said.
Candidates, including incoming Representative William Bailey of District 104 and Chairman-Elect Gardner were not running on tax increases, however. Their campaign message was clearly about raising impact fees on developers to pay for the cost of county-wide growth.
WHO ARE THEY WORKING FOR?
Primary incumbents Mark Lazarus and Greg Duckworth each lost their seats in tightly contested races. Both had the full support of the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors (CCAR). Lobbyist Jimmy Gray recently left CCAR to join the team at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce where he will continue his Government Liaison work there. (FANCY NAME FOR INSIDE LOBBYIST).
The Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors is among the most powerful political lobbying groups in the state of S.C. They are closely aligned with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
OFF THE AGENDA
While residents still fully intend to pack tomorrow’s County Council meeting, oddly, the referendum item was not placed on this week’s agenda. County Council must get a second reading on a council vote for the referendum by August if the measure is to be on the November ballot.
LAME DUCK RUBBER STAMP FOR GROWTH
Meanwhile, residents, including Pollard have raised concerns about the rapid rubber stamping of development projects including those associated with Myrtle Beach insider Mike Wooten.
As WBTW News reported in May: LONGS RESIDENTS OPPOSE DEVELOPMENT OF MORE THAN 1,000 NEW HOMES
The plans call for 974 single-family homes and 318 multifamily units on 565 acres of land near South Carolina Highway 905 and Old Buck Creek Road.
At the planning commission meeting, several people said they’re worried all those houses would put too much stress on police and firefighters, as well as create too much traffic.
They’re also concerned the development would make flooding worse.
“You just can’t grow these communities and not have the safety and the infrastructure there,” said Sharon Pollard, who lives near the proposed development site.
Pollard gave the planning commission a petition with more than 100 signatures of people opposing the project.
“The county will use that fund for fire and public safety however the county may deem to use that money,” Wooten said. “At the same time, we’ve already agreed to whatever traffic improvements that need to be made on (highway) 905 and Old Buck Creek Road.”
“A large, planned community is a lot better than a hodgepodge of small communities because you’ve got connectivity,” Wooten said. “You’ve got the ability to do better things with roads and traffic (and) much better things with stormwater.”
“No new growth until we begin charging impact fees,” say Horry County residents. Highway 905 is a two lane road. It would need to be widened to facilitate this kind of growth. Also, more fireman, police, and schools will become necessary as rapid growth continues in that area.
These residents are demanding a higher quality of daily life for those who live here. They intend to hold Horry County Council accountable. They simply will not allow council to change the subject on this one.
GETTING THE S.C. GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON BOARD
Under current law, adding impact fees are impossible. The laws would need to be changed in Columbia to make that possible.
That means getting folks like Luke Rankin, Alan Clemmons, Heather Crawford Ammons, Greg Hembree, Russell Frye, and currently Greg Duckworth (incumbent until January) on board. All of these State Representatives are highly enamored with the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors as well, however.
There are other local delegates that would need to be brought along. District 104 Representative elect Bailey has made it clear he fully supports increasing impact fees.
Local resident Peggie Bushey also put a bright light focused on these same local delegates for their votes on the recent budget.
MyrtleBeachSC news will be there tomorrow night to cover this developing event.