Georgetown County Council should listen to the people

  • Thursday, January 30, 2014

Deaf ear. That’s what at least a couple thousand people believe they’ve been subjected to by Georgetown County Council.

That need for a hearing aid of some sort comes in the wake of an attitude of too little, too late on the part of several Council members, according to some residents and business people.

And yet at the same time, Council has shown it can listen and listen well on other issues. That disparity was evident at a recent meeting of Georgetown County Council.

At issue ­— the median project at Pawleys Island, a reality TV show filmed at Murrells Inlet, and zoning changes back at Pawleys Island.

Several members of Council have correctly said there was a time and place for offering input on a planned median project at Pawleys Island.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation scheduled and held public meetings and Council had its own meetings on the issue. Few people came to those meetings and they offered only limited input.

Those who now object to the median plan did not speak out at the scheduled time.

And yet, these people correctly point out that once they realized what was about to happen, they have organized and rallied their forces. More than 2,000 people have expressed their opposition to the plan.

To their credit, at least some of the opponents have put their money where their mouths are. They’ve hired a traffic engineer, sought and received crash data and have suggested alternatives.

We’re not saying who is right or wrong on the median issue.

We believe, however, that Council should take the time and put forth the effort to schedule a new round of public meetings.

Opponents have raised serious and significant concerns about traffic patterns, moving tractor-trailer rigs onto side streets, putting in unaccustomed U-turns and depending on crash data that appears to be flawed.

Several Council members have been adamant that they’ve heard all they want to hear and they don’t even want to tap the brakes on the issue.

Some of these same Council members, however, listened really well when there was an outcry over filming a reality TV show in Murrells Inlet and a planned “big box” store at Pawleys Plaza.

In each of those cases, Council listened, studied and directed staff and the county Planning Commission to come up with ways to amend ordinances to deal with filming and the size of a retail store.

Those are significant issues, but neither one has a direct bearing on traffic safety.

The median project, however, deals not just with the volume of traffic but also with safety and possible injury or even death.

It seems to many people that a County Council that can act rather swiftly on filming a TV show, a “big box” store and a roof pitch should at least be able to reopen hearings on the median project.

They may decide the project should go on as planned.

But if they don’t give the citizens an honest-to-goodness hearing, their credibility could be seriously flawed for years to come.

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