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  • Friday, September 21, 2012

The Georgetown County Planning Department staff is recommending that the Planning Commission approve the rezoning of Pawleys Plaza.
Sunbelt Ventures in Mount Pleasant bought the 12.45-acre property, and plans to buy 5.32 acres adjoining the site. The $20 million redevelopment plan would include a 119,500-square-foot store and several smaller buildings.
In its recommendation, Planning staff made it clear that the project “would not be viewed favorably” if it had been proposed for undeveloped land.
The recommendation comes with conditions, including:
• Approval of a plat subdividing the parcel as shown on the conceptual plan prior to a building permit being issued for the main building.
• Approval from Santee Cooper for encroachment for the loading/turn around area.
• No protected trees over 25 inches in diameter can be removed and a landscape plan must be approved by the zoning administrator prior to construction. Shade trees must be used for parking lot islands and a hedge must be planted along the front of the development at a minimum of three feet high.
• The extension of Richardson Lane must be constructed to county standards prior to dedication to Georgetown County and Richardson must be improved to county standards to Waverly Road.
• A complete sign package must be submitted and approved as a major change. An emphasis will be on one monument-style directory sign or the two existing signs on Highway 17. If an electronic readerboard is used, no moving characters will be allowed and the copy can only change every eight seconds. No electronic readerboards will be allowed for individual businesses.
• Setbacks for the residential parcels must meet the “Residential 6,000 square feet” requirements, which are 25 feet in front, 10 feet on the side and 15 feet in the rear.
• All outparcels shall comply with the Waccamaw Neck Commercial Corridor Overlay Zone requirements.
n The applicant can develop multi-family housing for the residential portion using the density requirements in Section 607.5 of the Zoning Ordinance.
• Final approvals must be obtained from county stormwater, OCRM, Corps of Engineers and the county Water and Sewer District.
• The Planning Commission must approve and accept the traffic study.
Dusty Wiederhold, a partner in Sunbelt, said the staff report was the most “in-depth and detailed” he has seen for any project he has been involved in.
The next step in the process is for Sunbelt to make a presentation to the county Planning Commission at its meeting on Thursday at Waccamaw High School. County Planning Director Boyd Johnson will also present the staff’s recommendation.
Residents will have a chance to give their input at a public comment session at the meeting. Anyone wishing to speak must sign in between 5 and 5:30 p.m., when the meeting starts.
If the Planning Commission recommends the plan to County Council, first reading by title only would be given on Oct. 9. A discussion and second vote would take place on Oct. 23, with a final vote on Nov. 13.

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Sunbelt held a public meeting on Monday night at Pawleys Island Community Church, which is across Highway 17 from Pawleys Plaza.
The approximately 80 people in attendance heard from Wiederhold, James “Mike” Wooten, president of DDC Engineers, which designed the new development, and Rick Day, the traffic engineer.
Although Wiederhold has repeatedly denied that Walmart will be the tenant in the 119,500-square-foot store, many of the written questions submitted by audience members were about the effect a Walmart would have on the Pawleys Island area.
Several people used “small town” when describing Pawleys, another used “quaintness.”
“Walmart is the best draw,” Wooten said, “but they are not the only draw.”
When one audience member repeatedly pressed Wiederhold to admit that the tenant was Walmart, another man asked “why would they want to nail their coffin shut?”
Wiederhold has said in the past that there is no commitment from anyone, although he has spoken to Walmart, and several other national retailers.
When asked who else would occupy a 119,500-sqaure-foot store, Wiederhold named Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot.
“Whoever the tenant is it will benefit the shopping center,” Wiederhold said. He also talked about how important it is to have an anchor in shopping centers to draw people in.
For most of the meeting, audience members were quiet and respectful, although people laughed out loud when Day said traffic on Waccamaw Neck has increased 1 percent a year, and people scoffed when Wooten said the site doesn’t back up to any residential area.
Wiederhold was asked whether he had made any contributions to the re-election campaigns of any Georgetown County Council members, or if any county officials had made promises to him.
His answer to both questions was an emphatic “no.”
As the meeting was wrapping up, two women spoke in favor of the plan. Both were greeted with a smattering of applause.
One of the women, Alice Young of Pawleys Island, said with gas prices constantly increasing, she wants somewhere to shop closer to home.
She also chided the opposition.
“Before you say ‘we’ don’t want it, make sure you ask everybody.”

By Chris Sokoloski
csokoloski@gtowntimes.com

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