County officials say they need the authority to tear down dilapidated houses and other deteriorated dwellings unfit for humans to occupy and plan on reviving that debate to get a law on the books.
The council considered an ordinance last fall giving them such power over public and private property, but state law only allows cities to tear down vacated commercial properties, not county governments.
One of the targets of that draft ordinance was the former location of Thee Dollhouse on restaurant row, which was demolished this year after successful negotiations between county officials and the owner.
But members of the county council say there are more closed businesses and abandoned houses that are a blight on the community and need to be addressed.
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A bill is moving through the state legislature that would give counties the power to tear down abandoned commercial buildings and recoup the money through tax liens on the property.
So the council hopes that it can pass an ordinance allowing them to address private property, and then automatically update that law should the bill pass in the legislature.
“We’ve got a lot of issues with burned down and abandoned houses that need to be demolished,” said Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman.
The issue arose during the council’s budget retreat here Friday, although there was no discussion as to whehter adopting such a measure would require any additional funding beyond what could be recouped from tax liens.
Councilmen did caution that the ordinance should include language that does not target old family barns.
“You will have to vote to protect what needs protecting, and tear down what needs to be torn down,” Lazarus said.
The process for the new ordinance will start all over in the Infrastructure and Regulations Committee, before coming to the council for a full vote later this year.
Other problem structures identified in the past include flood and fire damaged houses or outbuildings that have been neglected for extended periods of time, as well as run-down properties that officials say are being used for drug dens and other criminal activities.