Highway 17 median project opponents concerned about safety, businesses

  • Thursday, January 16, 2014

Clayton Stairs/Inlet Outlook Several people shared their thoughts about Georgetown County Council’s refusal to take action against the current median progject in Pawley Island.

About 30 Waccamaw Neck residents came out to a Georgetown County Council meeting Tuesday night to protest a median project planned for a section of Highway 17 in Pawleys Island.

Speakers expressed concerns about safety and the effects on businesses in the area.

The topic was not on the agenda and no action was taken.

“I am very disappointed and disillusioned about how County Council has handled the median project,” Pawleys Island resident David Dunlan said.

“There are 3,000 people in Pawleys Island who love their community and want County Council to take action on the median project. We have been told repeatedly that we don’t matter.”

Steve Goggins, the main spokesman for the citizens coalition against the median project, has presented council with an alternative to the median project developed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

He said the project was not designed for safety, although that was originally the main reason for developing the SCDOT plan.

That plan will close the median along the 1.9-mile stretch of Highway 17 in Pawleys Island, with 17 U-turn areas, Goggins said.

A year after S.C. Department of Transportation held public hearings on the project and unveiled its final plan, the Citizens Coalition for Ocean Highway was formed in February, and a very public “Don’t Strip the Neck” campaign began.

Supporters were hoping for the same kind of success the “Don’t Box the Neck” group had in keeping Lowe’s Home Improvement and Walmart out of Pawleys Island.

County Council members have said they will not take action about the median plan.

Waccamaw Library

Other people, including Dwight McInvaill, director of the Georgetown County Library, attended the meeting to witness the approval of a construction bid for the new Waccamaw library.

Council voted to approve a bid of $2.9 million from Coastal Structures as the general contractor.

The County has satisfactory prior history with Coastal Structures, including the current construction of Murrells Inlet Community Center.

McInvaill thanked Council and the community for their helping this project come to fruition.

“I want to thank the citizens of the Waccamaw Neck for their support of this project,” McInvaill said.

“I also want to thank Sel Hemingway and members of council who have supported this and voting tonight to move this forward.”

He said construction of the new library, located off Willbrook Blvd., will begin soon.

Other business

Council is working to amend ordinances to close loopholes that have recently grabbed the public’s attention.

Council passed third reading Tuesday on ordinance amendments that establish building separation and define “commercial buildings.”

These loopholes were brought to the attention of county leaders when developers applied for a zoning change to renovate Pawleys Plaza in Pawleys Island.

Other loopholes were discovered when a film crew working on a project for CMT tested ordinance limits while filming the reality show “Party Down South” in the heart of Murrells Inlet.

Council passed third reading Tuesday on an ordinance amendment that will “clearly establish for future reference that filming activities are regulated by the adopted ordinance, not the Zoning Ordinance.”

Another ordinance amendment defines a “commercial building” as “a structure delineated by external sides joined together to form a building perimeter and covered by a roof.

The perimeter of the building, in turn, establishes a single footprint.

The building may be segmented via internal partition walls to allow for multiple tenants, if all other requirements of the Zoning Ordinance are met.”

A third ordinance amendment clearly establishes that filming activities are regulated by the adopted ordinance, not the Zoning Ordinance.

Council passed second reading of this change.

A controversial situation in Murrells Inlet arose this year regarding film production. Problems identified by the public led to the adoption of Ordinance No. 2013-43 by County Council.

Inlet Outlook reporter Chris Sokoloski contributed to this story.

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