A company that was twice denied approval to offer helicopter rides in North Myrtle Beach isn’t giving up just yet.
Windy Hill Water Park is contesting the city zoning board’s rejection of its business and has asked an Horry County court to conduct pre-litigation mediation to appeal the matter.
The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23 in the Court of Common Pleas between the Windy Hill Water Park and North Myrtle Beach Board of Zoning Appeals.
The company owned by Carroll Rogers still wants to locate in the Windy Hill section behind the Walgreens store on 4300 U.S. 17 South, the second location the company proposed after the board nixed its original location about 500 feet south on U.S. 17. Some neighbors opposed the business opening there, saying it would create too much noise.
Rogers declined to comment and referred questions to his lawyer, Mark Neill. Neill could not be reached for comment.
The legal challenge highlights the ongoing battle between residents and some helicopter tour businesses along the Grand Strand. The companies see the tourism destination as a perfect spot to do business, but neighbors say they don’t want the noise that comes along with helicopter tours. One case reached the S.C. Court of Appeals, which ruled last year that Helicopter Adventures near Broadway at the Beach could still operate.
Horry County leaders, knowing more tour companies might want to operate in the area and after hearing complaints from residents, are trying to strike a balance. On Tuesday, Horry County Council will consider an ordinance that would require new helicopter tour businesses to operate from public airports.
They want to do it and they’re not going to accept no for an answer, they’re just going to keep trying.
Kathy Kempf, president of the Barefoot Resort Residential Association HOA
In North Myrtle Beach, zoning officials rejected the application for the helicopter tour business after a Sept. 10 meeting attended by more than 150 residents who opposed the business operating near their neighborhoods.
Kathy Kempf, president of the Barefoot Resort Residential Association HOA, attended that meeting and said Monday she is not surprised the company is appealing the rejection through the courts.
“They want to do it and they’re not going to accept no for an answer, they’re just going to keep trying,” Kempf said.
The court mediation will be a topic at the HOA board meeting next week, and Kempf said they would likely repeat their plan of action and turn out in force at the court hearing.
Kempf said residents opposed the business because “noise over the homes and the safety issues are the biggest things I had gotten feedback from people on.”
The North Myrtle Beach City Council was advised of the legal action during a closed session at Monday night’s meeting but no action was taken, said city spokesman Pat Dowling.
The Windy Hill Water Park asked the zoning board to classify helicopter tours as amusement rides so they could operate in a highway commercial district.
In a Sept. 14 letter rejecting the company’s request, the zoning board said the company’s service was not “in substantial harmony” with existing businesses or nearby neighborhoods.
“The use could be injurious to adjacent property, it is not in harmony with the area and it could discourage the development and use of other properties in the area,” said the rejection letter from Paul Blust, zoning administrator.
Hudson can be reached at 843-444-1765; @AudreyHudson