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Horry County to consider banning beach tents

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

While Horry County Council may ban tents on the beach, any action the county may take would be accepted by the board of the Garden City Beach Community Association.

“If it’s a matter of safety, it’s a good thing,” said Drew Streett, chairman of the group, which promotes the Garden City Beach area.

Mari Armstrong, a board member, greeted the news of a possible ban with enthusiasm, especially for the turtles. “The tents up all night are a problem for the hatchlings,” she said. Current rules require that the structures come down at night, but Armstrong said that is not always the case.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus on Feb. 25 asked Arrigo Carotti, the county attorney to prepare two separate ordinances for council’s consideration, one that bans the tents totally, the second that would ban them for a set period. The council is expected to take up the issue during a March meeting.

Lazarus’ action came during a council workshop on the issue, during which Lt. Mark Bonner, the former head of the beach patrol, noted that in 2013 there were 3,800 “encounters” because of the beach tents, taking an average 15 minutes each to resolve.

“Beach tents/canopies degrade our ability to provide a safe environment on Horry County beaches,” said Paul Whitten, the assistant county administrator for public safety.

He added that there are so many tents in such a small area of beach that it interferes with law enforcement’s ability to do its job.

Although there is a rule on the books that the tents must be behind the established line of the high tide as well as a requirement that there be space between the tents, there are now so many tents that those rules are ignored.

Bonner showed pictures of tents two and three rows deep, with no access for law enforcement or emergency vehicles to get through. In addition, the sight line for the lifeguards is blocked by the tents and canopies.

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