Horry County officials prepare for highway beautification effort

Horry County officials want to put their best foot forward to the area’s visitors, and are moving forward with their highway beautification plans.

The only roadblock is clearance from the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

Janet Carter, director of Horry County Planning and Zoning, said this initiative was born out of a discussion of beautifying the entranceways throughout the county and especially into Myrtle Beach, which attracts millions of tourists every year.

Then there was the Knight Foundation’s 2011 Soul of the Community report. Carter said some of the comments from Horry County residents indicated they had a greater sense of belonging in a place that is visually appealing.

The work would be done in conjunction with the Keep Horry County Beautiful chapter.

No work has started yet, Carter said, as planning and zoning awaits approval of the encroachment permits submitted to SCDOT that would allow the county to do the beautification work.

“Hopefully, that won’t be much longer,” Carter said.

Adam Emrick, senior planner with the county, gave the Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation Committee an update on the project at Thursday’s meeting. As for funding, he said the money will come from a combination of $50,000 in accommodations tax funds and $144,000 in the tree mitigation bank.

That latter fund, Emrick said, is money paid to the county from companies who remove trees from its property.

Once all the logistics are in place, Emrick talked about the first three corridors the county.

The first is the interchange at U.S. 17 and S.C. 22 near Tanger Outlets and close to the North Myrtle Beach city limits. Emrick said the proposal is to put wildflowers along the banks to both stabilize and beautify them. Palmetto trees would also be planted.

Second is the area off U.S. 501 and close to the Myrtle Beach city limits. Plans are to seed the area with grass and increase the mowing schedule in the area, Emrick said.

The third site is the Fantasy Harbour Overpass, near the former Freestyle Music Park. Emrick told the committee the plan for that area is fertilizing and seeding along the medians, as well as planting palmetto trees.

Carter said the trees came as part of a grant from the group Palmetto Pride.

As for other beautification plans on the horizon, Carter said they’d like to help Garden City with median work and plant trees at the S.C. 544 and U.S. 17 Bypass.

“We don’t have a lot of resources right now. We’re just looking,” Carter said.

The cost of tossing that old TV

Moving from beauty to trash, the committee moved forward a resolution requesting support of local state delegates to help take the burden off cities and counties having to float the bill for disposing of all electronic waste.

When the state legislature passed a bill that took effect in July 2011 and prohibited electronics such as old televisions and computers from ending up in local landfills, it did so without setting up proper procedures that called for electronics manufacturers to bear the burden of these additional recycling programs.

In Horry County’s case, the bill for disposing of old electronics could spike from $30,000 a year to around $300,000.

After the state renegotiated its contract with Creative Recycling, out of North Carolina, to handle its electronics recycling, the service that had only cost Horry County in processing fees is now costing all cities tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This pricing change, according to Lindsey Kremlick, a spokeswoman for the S.C. Budget and Control Board, which handled the contract, was made to accurately reflect market conditions.

Danny Knight, executive director for the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, told the infrastructure and regulation committee they were being charged around $400 per ton for the electronic recycling.

He wants to see electronics manufacturers help offset the local cost.

“I think it’s their responsibility to help cover the cost of products that they have sold,” Knight said.