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Letters, August 21, 2013

  • Tuesday, August 20, 2013

  • Updated Monday, September 23, 2013 11:32 am

Twenty questions regarding the median project

Dear Editor,

I am a 20-year resident and a 10-year business owner of Pawleys Island who is very concerned about the Highway 17 median project. With all the coverage and letters to the editor, I am still searching for some answers about the project from our County Councilmen and SCDOT.

1. Where else on Highway 17 in all South Carolina has a similar design been implemented?
2. How will trucks or emergency vehicles turn around on Highway 17, when turning radius are not adequate for them, along the entire project length?
3. What is the reasoning behind locating a stop light to service the Post Office parking lot, which is in decline, and only opens for a few hours each day?
4. Is the amount of median to be landscaped 40%, as one County Councilman recently claimed, 0% as another County Councilman claimed, or 18.5 %?
5. Is the landscape design to include 30-foot-tall crape myrtles, as illustrations suggested in public hearings, drought tolerant plants, grass, or Astro Turf?
6. Why is Tiller Drive limited to right in and right out turning movements, when it serves 40 or more businesses?
7. How do large trucks go north on Hwy. 17 when leaving Builders First Source, or Cohens Drywall, from Tiller Drive?
8. How do large trucks go north on Hwy. 17 when leaving Pawleys Island Lumber from Archer Road?
9. Why is Parkersville Road limited to right in and right out when it serves two large churches, the new County Recreation Center, a day care center, and a large residential community?
10. Why were U-turns not illustrated in more detail at public hearings?
11. How many written comments from the public determined which design would be implemented in the proposed project (fourteen, thirteen, or three)?
12. In the proposed design, how successful would a pedestrian be in crossing Hwy. 17, when not crossing at a stop light? Note there are only two proposed stoplights located within a 1.8 mile section of highway.
13. Was any economic analysis performed regarding impacts to Pawleys Island business, land prices, employment, or the tax base?
14. How do motorists successfully merge back into traffic with no acceleration lane, or merge lane, after making a U-turn?
15. Why are no pedestrian walkways included in the plan as recommended by The 2003 Highway 17 Corridor Study?
16. Who is in charge of the project? Georgetown County Council, the Grand Strand Transportation Council, SCDOT, Waccamaw Regional Development Council, or Stantec Engineering?
17. How many accidents are caused by the existing median, versus vehicles entering and leaving the highway, versus accidents at intersections?
18. Why have U-turns been made illegal on Hwy. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet?
19. What is the cost of the median project to date: $1,000,000 as suggested by one County Councilman, $350,000 according to SCDOT in a recent meeting, or 4 1/2% of $2,500,000 according to Senator Ray Cleary?
20. Why is there no interest in accommodating the 150+ businesses, and over 2500 residents who have petitioned for the creation of a task force?

Kim Fox
Pawleys Island resident and business owner

TV crew not only ones
crossing a line

I’m not happy that the reality show “Dirty South” is being filmed in Murrells Inlet. From what I understand, the cast’s behavior has been reprehensible and the show is likely to paint Murrells Inlet in a less than favorable light. It’s easy to understand why inlet residents are vocal about the show.

However, some of the comments have crossed the line into very troubling territory. Wild accusations of political payoffs, blatant calls to violate the Constitutional and civil rights of property owners, and even an encouragement to commit violence by one Facebook poster who said “buy a gun and use it,” presumably to the neighbors of where the filming is taking place.

As a former Georgetown County Councilman, I believe the county issued the temporary permits that allowed the mobile offices and other equipment at the homes where the filming is taking place consistent with the current county zoning ordinance and prior permitting decisions.

I know that the decision of the county zoning administrator to issue the permits is being challenged in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals, which is the proper venue to settle such a dispute.

I’ve seen some comments that the county should have delayed issuance of any permits until the “public” had a chance to weigh in on whether the permits should be issued or not. Is the county now supposed to grant land use decisions based on whether the applicant is likable or via a poll of public opinion and not the law?

If so, we are indeed heading down a very slippery slope as far as the Constitution, property rights and the rule of law.

I know the easiest thing for a member of county council to do at this point is to try and make everybody happy and end the outcry by somehow rescinding the permits, thereby eliminating the filming location.

However, there’s no mechanism in law that allows county councils to overturn a zoning administrator’s decision, only the Board of Zoning Appeals or a Circuit Court can do that. Plus council members have sworn in their oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” and therefore to uphold the law with consistency and fairness.

It’s possible that county council could change the zoning ordinance to prohibit future “filming” in residential areas, which would prevent filming of unsavory reality shows, but it would also prevent the filming of movies like ”The Patriot” and “The Bay” or SCETV documentaries — all of which were filmed in residential areas of Georgetown County. Is that what we want as a county?

I don’t think there is an easy solution to the filming of the “Dirty South” despite how much we may dislike the behavior of the cast (a law enforcement issue) or the content of the show.

I do know that a solution will not be found through wild accusations, overheated rhetoric or in violating someone’s rights under the law.

Tom Swatzel
Murrells Inlet

Maintaining what we have

I am a concerned resident of Maryville area here in Georgetown. I used to take frequent trips down to the park on the corner of South Island Road and Aviation Boulevard. While I was there I would either practice hitting golf balls or just take a walk. Sometimes there were kids playing on the baseball fields and you could always find someone playing soccer.

Recently the condition of this park has deteriorated to the point that playing baseball or soccer is nearly impossible. The grass is knee high all over the fields and the infields are sprouting grass covering nearly the entire infield.

I spoke to a gentleman on one of my recent trips to the park, who said the county contracts his company to mow the grass in and around the ball fields. As we were talking I was watching the person who was mowing the grass and noticed that the mower they were using was not actually cutting the grass. It remained over ankle high after he passed over it with the mower and some spots just popped back up as if the mower wasn’t actually cutting but pushing the grass down.

I asked the gentleman about this and he rudely informed me that the county hired him to cut the grass and if I did not like the way they were doing it he would give me the number to the Recreation Department so I could call and tell them to complain about it.

I called the recreation department when I arrived back home but to my dismay they informed me they had nothing to do with it. “The job is being handled by a contractor.” Typical local government “pass the buck” policy.

I have included several pictures of the current condition of South Island Park.

Billy J Ethridge

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.


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