Myrtle Beach City Council will consider an ordinance on Tuesday that would suspend the issuance of business licenses to applicants in the zone that includes much of downtown Myrtle Beach – including the former Pavilion site where a Florida-based company has proposed putting a temporary carnival this summer.
Council members expressed concerns during the second day of their budget retreat in Pinopolis Thursday about Strates Shows of Orlando, Fla., coming to Myrtle Beach. They said they don’t want to allow an “out-of-market” business to benefit from the work the city and downtown businesses have done to improve the area over the past few years.
Strates Shows is proposing a summer-long carnival that would feature rides, games and concessions from June to September that would sit on a four-acre portion of the former Pavilion grounds, next to Adrenaline Adventures Zip Line, which opened on part of the site last April.
Councilman Wayne Gray referenced an article in The Sun News that quoted carnival owner Jay Strates remarking on the amount of traffic seen in the downtown area.
“You guys get so many people there. There’s plenty of demand,” Strates said earlier this week.
Gray said he didn’t like that idea.
“[Downtown businesses have] labored through tough times, through the winter,” Gray said. “They put money back into the community.”
Council members also said they were afraid that bringing carnival rides back to the area would undermine the development that’s taken place in that area over the past few years.
“It doesn’t keep in line with the progress that’s happened in that part of town,” Gray said.
A lot of money has been spent in downtown Myrtle Beach in recent years as the city worked to improve the area. The Downtown Redevelopment Corp. – created to “facilitate the revitalization of downtown Myrtle Beach,” according to the website – has led the development of projects such as the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, Nance Plaza and Justin W. Plyler Park.
Over the next three years, Myrtle Beach will spend more than $20 million on improvements to Ocean Boulevard from Second to Ninth Avenue North, according to proposed budget presented to City Council on Thursday.
Those improvements include upgrading streets, sidewalks and moving utilities underground as well as improving stormwater quality and re-routing stormwater flows from beach pipes to a large diameter ocean outfall system at Fourth Avenue North.
Gray noted that much of the money spent would not necessarily be visible by residents, with about $8 million of the $20 million going to the Fourth Avenue North outfall project.
“In the downtown area we’ve spent a pile of money,” said city manager Tom Leath.
Council members also said they were concerned with the safety of temporary carnival rides that would be used on the old Pavilion site.
Gray suggested asking Burroughs & Chapin, the company that owns the property and is working to lease four acres of the former Pavilion site to Strates Shows, to withdraw their business application but asked city attorney Tom Ellenburg what else could be done.
“We don’t want it and we want to know from legal what we can do about it,” Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means said.
Ellenburg said if the concern is the amount of carnival-style rides in the area, he could draft an ordinance that would put a moratorium on the issuing of business licenses in AC-3 zones while the Planning Commission looks into the amount of amusement rides in the area. The AC-3 zone includes areas such as the Family Kingdom area, the former NASCAR Cafe building at the corner of 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass as well as the former Pavilion area.
“The Planning Commission would look at the issue of amusement rides and the concentration, and if they are to be allowed, how will that fit into what we’re trying to do,” Ellenburg said.
The moratorium would go into effect on first reading of the ordinance, which is expected to happen Tuesday. There is no deadline for when the Planning Commission must report back to the City Council with their recommendation.
“It’s not uncommon,” city spokesman said. “It’s the pending ordinance doctrine.”
Funding outside agencies
Also at the retreat council members discussed preliminary recommendations to fund outside agencies – groups that provide services cities would otherwise provide, with the totaling $335,500.
Organizations will have the opportunity to go before the council, probably in May, to explain to council members why they need the money, budget director Michael Shelton said.
Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means said since the city’s budget hasn’t grown, organizations that received money last fiscal year should get the same amount this year.
“And some that we gave money last year, I think we should give less this year,” she said.
If approved, the newly formed New Directions would receive $135,000 from the city, the largest amount recommended. That amount is the sum of money received by four organizations that all help needy people in Myrtle Beach.
New Directions is the consolidation of organizations that work with the area’s needy people. The Center for Women and Children, Street Reach Ministries and Life Line, the domestic violence agency that replaced Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, are combining resources to form one operating board that will work under one 501c3.
Mary Jeffcoat, who has facilitated meetings among service providers, local government, churches and others in accordance with a fall 2011 City Council resolution, said they also hope that Myrtle Beach Haven will join forces with New Directions.
In fiscal year 2012-13, the city appropriated $40,000 to Street Reach; $50,000 to CASA before it closed, which was then transferred to the Center for Women and Children; Helping Hand, which performs the intake process for New Directions, received $15,000; and Myrtle Beach Haven received $30,000.
The council also recommended $15,000 to Helping Hand for operational purposes.
Amounts proposed by the council include: