March 5, 2014

Myrtle Beach area businesses hoping for beach tent decision sooner than later

Some property management companies, while not taking positions on whether tents should be allowed on the beach, say they hope a decision from local officials comes sooner, rather than later..

Some property management companies, while not taking positions on whether tents should be allowed on the beach, say they hope a decision from local officials comes sooner, rather than later..

Paul Hanak, marketing director with CondoLux, the property management company for Crescent Shores condominiums in North Myrtle Beach, said he hopes any changes in beach tent regulations are done before things get busy.

“The sooner would be better, because once the heavy season starts it’s going to be hard [to inform everyone],” he said.

Tents have been discussed among officials in Grand Strand beach communities for the past few years and most recently resurfaced during a June meeting of Myrtle Beach’s Beach Advisory Committee.

Under the current law along the Grand Strand, beachgoers can’t use tents larger than 12 feet-by-12 feet, must have them set up on the land side of the lifeguard’s umbrella line and they must be at least 10 feet away from another tent. Tent users must secure their tents with lines that don’t stick out from the tent’s borders. Tents can’t go up before 8 a.m. and must be down by 7 p.m.

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.

Crescent Shores, at 1625 S. Ocean Blvd., is located in one of three sections of North Myrtle Beach where beach erosion is high and the City Council considered banning the tents last month.

North Myrtle Beach City Council has since passed first reading of an ordinance that bans tents in all areas of the city from the Saturday before Memorial Day through and including Labor Day. Only Councilman Bob Cavanaugh voted against the ban.

If the ordinance passes second reading, tentatively scheduled for March 17, the law would take effect this year.

Horry County Council is expected to discuss two ordinances when it meets next week, one that would ban tents year-round and one that would ban them during the busy summer season.

Barb Krumm with Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Horry County said a lot of tents can be found along the nearly 1-mile stretch of beach along the property.

“A lot of our guests like the beach tents,” she said. “Some of our guests have very strong opinions about them. Some love them. Some don’t like them at all.”

Krumm said Ocean Lakes uses its website, social media outlets, fliers and closed circuit television channel to inform guests about changes to beach rules.

“All of our 2014 printed stuff is done in December,” she said. “Our spring newsletter has been printed. It’s not the most convenient timing [for changes to be made], but either way we’ll absolutely do our best to communicate it to our guests.”

During a Coastal Alliance meeting Wednesday, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said public safety officials have said enforcing the current law takes time away from officers who could be doing other things. The Coastal Alliance is a group that represents Horry County and cities along the Grand Strand.

“We tried to put an ordinance in of where you can place them hoping to solve the problem and it just didn’t work out,” he said, adding that he hopes to implement changes this year. “I’ve been put on notice by public safety. Now that we’ve been put on notice by public safety that they think this is an issue, we don’t want to wait another season.”

Last week, Myrtle Beach City Council was unable to reach a consensus on how to handle the tents. Two votes on the issue failed – one that would ban them all together and one that still would allow them in residential areas. Three councilmen wanted a ban on all areas of the beach, three wanted the ban only in commercial areas and one did not want a ban at all, city spokesman Mark Kruea said.

“From our council standpoint it’s pretty split right now,” Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said during the Coastal Alliance meeting.

City manager Tom Leath said it’s important that all beach communities stand together on the issue.

“If the county does it year-round, we need to do it year-round and North Myrtle Beach needs to do it year-round,” he said. “I’m going to ask [City Council] to give it first reading [next week]. If we’re going to do this, we’ve got to get it cranking.”

Surfside Beach Mayor Doug Samples said the upcoming election, scheduled for April 8, is slowing things down on Town Council.

“We’ll take a wait-and-see how the county proceeds,” he said. “But we’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We’ll take action if the county does.”

Both Myrtle Beach City Council and Horry County Council are scheduled to meet Tuesday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

“We’ll know what’s happening with the tents come Tuesday night,” Lazarus said.

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