A mining company sued the Horry County Council this month after council denied a resolution allowing them to mine more than 50 acres of land at the intersection of South Carolina highways 31 and 905.
The suit, brought by Red Bluff Trade Center LLC, and its subsidiary, Red Bluff Rock LLC, claims the county devalued the land and cost the company “large amounts of money and other resources” when it rezoned the property from the profitable High Bulk Retail to the “lesser economically profitable district” Commercial Agriculture, and then denied a mining permit.
The mining company said in the lawsuit that the county knew it was being rezoned for the purpose of mining, and the that the denial of the mining resolution prevented the company from mining materials worth more than $70 million.
According to the lawsuit, Red Bluff hired DDC Engineers to rezone its property from High Bulk Retail to Commercial Agriculture, which would have allowed mining on the property.
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On Nov. 29, 2016, DDC Engineers met with Planning and Zoning regarding planned rezoning and proposed use of mining, and “was specifically advised that the property should be rezoned to Commercial Agriculture District (AG2),” according to the suit, which said the application for rezoning clearly identified mining as the reason for rezoning.
On Feb. 21, 2017, Horry County amended zoning maps to rezone from High Bulk Retail or Commercial Agriculture with approval of staff, according to the suit, which claims “the only reason to rezone the property from High Bulk Retail (RE4) to the lesser economically profitable district Commercial Agriculture (AG2) was because the county and plaintiffs understood that the property would be used as a mine.”
The initial resolution to vote on the permit scheduled for August 22 was deferred by county council, and a community meeting was held at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church to discuss mining operations on Sept. 26, the suit states.
The resolution for the approval of the mine was then placed on agenda for Oct. 17, 2017.
On the morning of Oct. 17, James Wooten of DDC Engineers called David Schwerd and asked the resolution be withdrawn from agenda until the company had time to respond to all of the public comments related to the mine, according to the suit.
Red Bluff relied on the communication, the suit notes, and “had no notice that the resolution would be heard on Oct. 17,” despite the county voting to deny the resolution to approve mining.
According to the lawsuit, the council’s decision was “unlawful, irrational, arbitrary and capricious and unsupported by substantial, reliable and probative evidence.”
The plaintiffs are asking for a court order to overturn council’s decision on the mine, as well as “reasonable compensation for the taking of its property, plus prejudgment interest and actual and consequential damages.”
Attorney Kerry Jardine with The Pearce Law Group said she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
Horry County Director of Public Information Kelly Moore said in an emailed statement, “The County has received the Appeal and Complaint filed by Red Bluff Trade Center, LLC, and will file the appropriate responsive pleading with the Court in due course.” She did not comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit.