Myrtle Beach residents concerned about development of new Pine Lakes neighborhood

mprabhu@thesunnews.comApril 8, 2014 

Some Myrtle Beach area residents expressed concerns with a developer’s plan to build a single-family neighborhood on nearly 12.5 acres between the historic Pine Lakes Golf Course and Country Club Drive that have been vacant for decades.

After a spirited discussion Tuesday between residents, developers and the Myrtle Beach City Council, council approved the Pine Lakes Estates Planned Unit Development in a 4-3 vote. Councilmen Wayne Gray, Philip Render and Mike Lowder voted against the ordinance.

Being in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods – having been built in the late 1920s before the city was chartered – longtime residents of the Pine Lakes community told City Council members during a Tuesday morning workshop that they worried any development would change the character of the neighborhood.

Neighborhoods around the PUD area began to be developed in the late 1970s, planning director Jack Walker said.

“We have a wonderful neighborhood,” said 50-year resident Bob Stansbury. “And every one of us are so proud of our neighborhood and our neighbors. I just look at the developers and I say, ‘don’t mess up the neighborhood.’ ”

Developer Scott Miles, grandson of the original developer, said the neighborhood is important to him and he has no intention of doing anything that would harm it.

When initially presented to the Myrtle Beach Planning Commission, Miles asked for a gated community that featured private roads. Residents voiced concerns that the gated neighborhood would not be connected to the existing neighborhoods and Miles withdrew the request.

“The applicant has gone through a series of meetings with the planning commission, meetings with representatives from the neighborhood,” he said. “The planning commission feels there was comfortable common ground found on this.”

Walker said the PUD imposed more restrictions on development than the way it is currently zoned – as R-10, or one family residential.

As presented Tuesday, the neighborhood would feature 29 lots averaging about .3 acres each. Gray took issue with what he said was a small lot, saying that the average lot in the rest of Pine Lakes is nearly 0.5 acres.

“I respect the right of the developer to take the 12.5 acres and maximize the use of it,” he said.

Render said he didn’t feel the new neighborhood fit with the current community.

“Neighborhoods have flavors and I’m not sure this has the flavor that this neighborhood has had for many years,” he said.

He said he also couldn’t vote for the PUD knowing how unsettled the residents were.

Mayor John Rhodes said he believed a lot of the residents’ concerns came from there being a lack of communication from the developers.

“The hard facts are that that neighborhood will be developed,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do to stop it, unless you buy that property.”

Pine Lakes resident Ann Monckton told City Council she understood the land would be developed.

“They certainly have a right to develop their property,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with that. I just would like it to be consistent.”

Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means said she believed passing the PUD was the best way to preserve the neighborhood, saying that if the area continues to be zoned R-10, City Council has no say over what is built. To develop in an R-10 zone, plans only need to go before the planning commission.

Second and final reading on the ordinance could happen as soon as April 22 and the council asked developers to speak with residents to inform them of all of the details of what will be built on the property.

“I encourage the developer and the neighborhood to get together and hope that we can come to a better understanding,” Councilman Michael Chestnut said. “We know that not everybody’s going to be happy, but let’s try to work with the neighborhood.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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