MYRTLE BEACH — A Myrtle Beach committee convened for the first time Wednesday with one goal in mind - to spruce up the entranceway into the city.
The Highway 501 Corridor Committee states its purpose as creating a set of design standards and guidelines for future growth and development along the Highway 501 corridor, while increasing beautification.
Committee members expressed how this portion of U.S. 501 - running from the Intracoastal Waterway to Broadway Street within the city limits - is the first glance tourists have of Myrtle Beach when they arrive for vacation.
Since the areas full of abandoned buildings and other less-than-appealing aesthetics, the panel agrees its not a case of the city putting its best foot forward.
Wed just like an attractive entranceway, said Adam Parness, committee chairman.
For the next several months, the committee will meet every third Wednesday to hash out standards and guidelines affecting construction techniques, trees, lighting and signs, as well as properties set for either destruction or remodeling.
Were talking about a lasting contribution here that will last for generations, said Jack Walker, planning director for Myrtle Beach.
Parness stressed the point of this initiative is not to change any property currently in business, but would apply to businesses looking to build or develop within the corridor.
The committee has a guideline in the form of the Highway 501 Overlay Zone. This was created by Horry County officials 12 years ago and includes the area starting at the eastern base of the U.S. 501 Bypass bridge at the Grainger Steam Plant, and ends at the Canal Street intersection in Myrtle Beach.
Adam Emrick, with Horry County Planning and Zoning, said the county model calls for its set of standards to apply to existing businesses looking to renovate beyond 40 percent of the assessed value of the property.
Businesses destroyed by a natural disaster wouldnt be privy to the standards set forth in the county model until a year later, Emrick added.
Those standards include putting brick, glass, stone, stucco or other suitable materials on the sides of buildings visible from U.S. 501. Sheet metal wouldnt be allowed, and all shipping and receiving areas must be in the back of the building or out of sight from the road.
Emrick said a highlight of the county model is landscaping requirements. Those guidelines include putting plants and trees around the foundation of buildings visible from public right-of-ways.
Parness said the countys model could be dropped on top of what the committee is trying to accomplish, and make any necessary changes to better serve the city of Myrtle Beach.
Diane Moskow McKenzie, city planner, said the committee wont be addressing any traffic issues or the proposed Interstate 73.
This is strictly to look at design standards for an overlay, she said.
The public is encouraged to attend the meetings and offer input. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m., at the first floor conference room in Myrtle Beach City Hall.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.