CONWAY — Horry County isn’t making a decision on possible laser pointer regulations just yet.
An ordinance was scheduled for a first vote Tuesday night in response to growing complaints related to the lights, but the County Council decided to defer that vote and send the discussion back to the public safety committee.
The committee will meet next on Sept. 13.
Councilman Paul Price, who made the successful motion, said there’s more that needs to be figured out before the council takes a vote.
“We want to look at it a little bit more in detail,” he said. “There were some questions that were risen from the public and council so we want to take another look at it in the public safety committee.”
Price said the decision is not a reflection on the need for some regulatory action.
“It is an issue. It’s a big issue,” Price said. “It’s just that you don’t want to rush in without thinking it through clearly. If you do you could make a mistake so it’s worth the extra effort on the public safety committee’s part to go back and look at it and get more input from the public.”
The discussion and possible regulations come after several incidents where green lasers were pointed at helicopters flown by the U.S. Coast Guard during search and rescue missions on the Grand Strand, most recently in Garden City the first week of August.
In August, the Cmdr. Gregory Fuller, commanding officer at Air Station Savannah which provides air support for the Grand Strand, said the Coast Guard may not help search efforts on the grand strand because their rescuers’ safety is in jeopardy.
Fuller compared flying into places with laser pointer activity to traveling into storms while on rescue missions. Other areas, he said, have laser activity but it’s much more random, like lightning produced by a thunderstorm. If there’s a 100 percent risk of a flight crew getting struck by lightning – or lasers – they won’t fly.
According to the council’s draft ordinance, there were more than 70 reported incident s of aircraft being hit by lasers in and around the Myrtle Beach International Airport this year.
The draft ordinance would regulate the sale, possession and use of lasers, but Price said the enforcement is one hurdle the council needs to work out.
“The big issue is enforcement,” he said. “How do you enforce this? If a juvenile hits a button, the beam goes out and it’s instantly gone. There’s nothing to investigate. There’s no fingerprints, no footprints, no blood, no nothing.”
The council also voted Tuesday in favor of two ordinances related to Project AF, slated to bring 79 new jobs to the area within 36 months.
Both ordinances require a third and final vote.
The first deals with a property tax relief that would reduce the company’s taxes by about $600,000 over 20 years, roughly cutting the property tax in half. However, if the county finds the company does not have and retain those 79 jobs the incentive would be taken away.
The second ordinance is an agreement for the development of a joint industrial and business park with Dillon County for property located in Horry County.
Councilman Harold Worley was the lone dissenter on all votes related to Project AF. He said he didn’t think it was fair.
“If you’re going to give a tax break you should give everyone a tax break,” he said. “Fundamentally I just think it’s wrong to be buying jobs. I know I’m in the minority on that.”
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.