Horry County Planning Commission approves new development amid backlash from residents

Residents of Carolina Lakes and Legends communities

Residents of the Legends housing plan in Myrtle Beach left an Horry County Planning Commission meeting Thursday evening angry at the approval of an amendment to an already existing planned unit development which will allow the development of single-family homes along Legends Drive.

The approved amendment will reduce the number of homes that will be built on the land, but residents are still concerned with the increase of traffic that the development will bring, as well as the potential for flooding.

Before the amendment, about 715 units were already approved to be built on the land, due to a PUD that was implemented in 1991. However, due to a past conservation easement, which limited the amount of development that could take place on the land, about 360 units were left floating. This means that the developer can place these homes anywhere in the project that is still available for use.

“What we’re doing here, we lost a lot of units when part of the project and the golf courses were placed in a conservation easement years ago,” Mike Wooten with DDC Engineers said. “We’re not trying to get those back. All we’re asking for is to place those units that are in the document that allow us to do that.”

However, the current plan does not account for an increase in traffic that will come with the addition of more houses.

Along Legends Drive, the only access onto the road is on U.S. 501.

“Traffic issues, we’re going to work with the homeowners in Legends and we’re going to do much like we did with the Hidden Woods project,” Wooten said. “We’re going to come up with a plan to improve the roads, determine what it’s going to cost, and then work with the neighborhood to come up with what’s called a special tax district where over a period of time the taxes for individual homes and the golf course, and the commercial uses out front will be increased, not substantially, but some. You bond against that amount and pay for those improvements.”

The results of the study, however, would not be executed until the development has been completed.

As for flooding issues, residents expressed concerns regarding ponds that will collect runoff water so that it will not pool in roadways.

“We had flooding inside Legends,” said Mike Marino, the head of development for Legends. “The whole of South Carolina had flooding. Your roads were approved by the county when we first got here. The problem has been the rain. We’re going to study that.”

Residents from Carolina Lakes in Myrtle Beach also made an appearance at the meeting in order to address the development of 40 single-family homes in common, meaning that the 40 homes will share four driveways, all of which will empty out onto Carolina Lakes Boulevard.

Much like the development along Legends Drive, the original plan for Carolina Lakes allotted for 120 single-family homes. An amendment separate from the Legends amendment reduced the number of homes down to 40.

Residents from the community also expressed concerns with the traffic buildup that the development will bring, as well as the four traffic fatalities that already have occurred along the road, which can only be accessed from S.C. 544.

“I know this is Legends, that it’s their development,” said Melanie Brown, a Carolina Lakes resident. “My problem is that there is no access to Legends from Carolina Lakes. So what I was told here in this meeting, is that in 1991 they zoned that to build some houses on this little strip of land, and now they want to rezone it to make it a smaller property. So instead of 60 houses, now he wants to put 40 on a property that has no access to Legends so they just will have a view of the golf course, and the only way into their development will be through the Carolina Lakes development.

“And you’re going to put 40 units and only put four driveways. …You’re probably going to have, you know, at least 40 cars, probably 80 cars because you’re going to have two cars per unit, coming out of four driveways, onto a main road, into a development of 304 homes. I just don’t understand how that’s going to work.”

Currently, there is no plan in work to connect Legends Drive and Carolina Lakes Boulevard, which would help to ease traffic.

With the approval of the development, plans will move to Horry County Council. During the second reading of the motion, residents will once again have the opportunity to speak for or against the development.

“Zoning is an emotional issue,” Wooten said. “We deal with technical issues. We’ve rezoned about 75,000 acres of property in Horry Coutny and it’s always emotional. Usually at the end of the day, people are happy with what we’ve produced.”

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic