March 26, 2014

Myrtle Beach begins process to annex 620 acres into city limits

Nearly 600 acres that includes more than a dozen businesses could be annexed into Myrtle Beach if enough residents in two Horry County neighborhoods vote to become part of the city.

Nearly 600 acres that includes more than a dozen businesses could be annexed into Myrtle Beach if enough residents in two Horry County neighborhoods vote to become part of the city.

The Myrtle Beach City Council voted 4-2 to move forward with a plan to annex Bridgeport and Waterside subdivisions and about 571 acres of mostly commercial property along U.S. 17 Bypass between U.S. 501 and roughly 21st Avenue North. About 46 residents of the two subdivisions in Horry County had signed the petition requesting annexation, but the businesses had not asked to be part of the annexation.

Councilmen Mike Lowder and Randal Wallace voted against the annexation, saying the businesses should have a say in whether they are annexed.

The city added the businesses to the annexation to close in “doughnut holes,” spots that are surrounded by city limits but still fall under the jurisdiction of Horry County. Residents in the proposed annexation area will vote whether to become part of the city in a special election, which is the next step in the process.

“I’ll always vote against an ordinance like this until the law is changed,” Lowder said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “Commercial properties that lie in this area ought to have some say. … If it was just the residential properties, I’d support this.”

Bridgeport and Waterside make up roughly 55 acres of the 626 in the area proposed for annexation.

City officials created the area proposed for annexation, which extends city limits from U.S. 17 Bypass west to the Intracoastal Waterway, including four lots along the bypass. The area goes from Piedmont Industrial Park roughly as far north as Mr. Joe White Avenue in some parts and the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority and surrounding land owned by Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc.

“If you look, we’ve taken the existing city limit line in that area and we’ve tried to clean it up and get rid of the doughnut holes,” assistant city manager Ron Andrews said.

Andrews said that commercial properties that are adjacent to the city limits have benefitted from city services and improvements, but not contributed financially.

“If you’re in a doughnut hole or you’re right next to the city limits, you’re benefitting from everything the city’s done to get tourists here and get business here,” Andrews said.

“But the businesses in the city are paying for it all.”

Mike Rose, owner of The Gold Club, which would be one of several businesses annexed into the city, said he was not aware of the proposed annexation, but thought coming into city limits would be good for his club depending on how the area is zoned.

“The club is not ‘adult’ right now,” he said, adding that the club operates as a go-go bar. “We would still be permitted in that location … we would continue to operate the way we do. If they change the zoning to allow adult [businesses], that would be perfect for that location.”

Other businesses that would be annexed include stores in the Dail Centre shopping plaza on Jason Boulevard, BMW of Myrtle Beach and The Sun News.

According to state law, 25 percent of the 170 registered voters in the designated area – which spans more than 620 acres – can petition the city and county to hold a special election to decide to be annexed into the city.

Owners of commercial properties only can vote in the special election if they also live within the designated area, which is why Wallace and Lowder said they voted against the measure.

City staff collected 49 signatures of residents of Bridgeport and Waterside in 2012 between September and November, but only 46 could be verified through the state’s voter registration rolls. The petition needed 43 signatures to be certified.

Edna Wright, growth coordinator in the Myrtle Beach planning department, said the city wanted the annexation to connect to a ditch that already was in city limits on the far side of the water and sewer treatment plant.

“[The annexation] would allow us to close up that area along the waterway,” Wright said.

City Council also passed resolutions asking Horry County to run the special election. In that election, 50 percent of voters plus one vote would have to support the annexation for the city to consider it. If City Council chooses to move forward, the planning department would recommend zoning for the council’s approval.

A staff report presented to City Council estimated more than $461,000 in additional revenue to the city through the annexation, with the bulk coming from business license fees.

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said the election commission had not received the petition as of Wednesday afternoon. Bourcier said she could not comment on a timetable until the county received the petition.

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