CONWAY — Skin cancer and eyesores on the beach were some of the arguments for or against allowing beach tents on the county’s unincorporated beaches during an Horry County public hearing Tuesday, where the council eventually approved the ban’s second reading.
Council approved the second of three required readings on a year-round, canopy-style beach tent ban that would restrict anyone, including the 14 million tourists who visit the Grand Strand annually, from erecting a beach tent along the county’s beaches. The ban follows moves made by Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach who have passed similar ordinances recently. The council will take it third and final vote on the issue at its April 15 meeting.
Councilman Paul Prince was the lone vote against the ban.
Horry County resident Patricia Milly spoke at the public hearing and said she knows firsthand that beach tents are beneficial.
“I know from experience that the tents are a good thing,” Milly said, adding she has battled skin cancer. “To me, it’s a shame to make all these laws on the beach. … We’ve gone so far. These tents are ridiculous.”
For several years, the county has worked on passing beach tent regulations.
Alan Sipe, a resident of Garden City Beach, said he was pleased to hear about other communities banning the tents.
“I’m glad to see that you folks are planning to do the same,” Sipe said. “They are an absolute eyesore.
“This is a case of the general public abusing the rest of us. I have the same right to enjoy that beach as much as the one with the tent does.”
Law enforcement officers and lifeguards have said the tents block their view of the beach, as well as their paths when emergencies occur on the ocean.
Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said there were 3,800 tent incidents in 2013, where police officers spent about 15 minutes on each of those incidents. She said she knows there will be some police time spent on the new rules, if it passes final reading April 15.
“I know that initially we’re going to still have to put man hours into it,” Rhodes said. “But once the public knows … then that time will be reduced.”
Last month, both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach passed ordinances banning the tents. Visitors to Myrtle Beach cannot put up the tents anywhere on the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day. North Myrtle Beach banned the tents from May 15 to Sept. 15.
The beach tent issue most recently resurfaced during a June meeting of Myrtle Beach’s Beach Advisory Committee. The Coastal Alliance, a group that represents Horry County and its cities along the Strand, was charged with trying to get all communities to pass a similar ordinance.
Sipe said tourists can still bring their tents, just not to the beach.
“Tents belong in the woods or in the campground,” Sipe said. “They don’t belong on the beach.”
Council passes first reading of film ordinance
Horry County passed the first reading of a motion picture and film ordinance for unincorporated areas of the county.
The ordinance requires three readings in order to become law, which are expected at the April 15 and May 6 meetings.
The ordinance requires filming to occur from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. only. A full traffic and parking plan would be required. Also, residents within 300 feet of filming would be notified, which is why the county would require a 45-day notice. The notice could be waived by the county administrator depending on the size, scale and potential impact of the filming. The ordinance exempts higher-budget films, or those that have applied for state-issued incentives, from having to jump through hoops similar to what the state had already required them to do. For example, a film with more than a $1 million budget could apply to the state for incentives to film in South Carolina. This ordinance would allow those films to forego some of the basic requirements those companies already completed when applying for the state incentives.
The county has been working on the ordinance for months amid challenges some communities – namely Georgetown County and Myrtle Beach – have had related to filming of reality shows. CMT’s “Party Down South” was filmed in Murrells Inlet and “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor” is filmed in Myrtle Beach.
Horry administrators wanted to take an approach that prepared the county in the event someone wanted to film in its unincorporated areas. The proposed ordinance is aimed at protecting residents by requiring ample notice, filming hours and proper notification for those being impacted by the filming.
Process to dissolve Solid Waste Authority now law
Horry County Council now has a way to dissolve the Solid Waste Authority if it chooses to in the future.
In December 1990, the county created the authority to manage the county’s waste and landfill. The new law, approved Tuesday, states the dissolution of the authority may be accomplished solely through majority vote of County Council by way of three readings of an ordinance.
It also states that prior to the enactment of that ordinance, the chairman of the council shall appoint an ad hoc committee, consisting of four members of County Council and upon request from the League of Cities, three members nominated by the League of Cities.
The committee will offer a recommendation to council concerning dissolution. County officials have said there are not any current plans to dissolve the authority.
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.