Horry County denies request for special election to annex South Area

Horry County Council voted Tuesday for, and then against, allowing the south area of Myrtle Beach to have a special election to annex into the city after one council member explained his concern.

The council initially voted 9-1, with councilmen Gary Loftus and Paul Price absent, to approve the request for a special election that would have asked residents in the south area of Myrtle Beach – namely around the 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 – whether they would like to be annexed into the city. Councilman Marion Foxworth, who represents the affected area, was the lone “no” vote and was asked why he didn’t support the special election.

Council considered the issue following a vote by Myrtle Beach City Council earlier this year for the city to move forward with a special election to annex the Bridgeport and Waterside subdivisions.

Foxworth said the state allows three different ways to annex: If 100 percent of the property owners agree with annexation, then it only takes a vote of City Council to approve it; if 75 percent of property owners agree, then the City Council would have to conduct a public hearing and a vote; and the third option, which is what those who petitioned the council used, is if 25 percent of voters in the proposed annexed area request by petition for the election, the measure would need support of a majority of voters in that area for annexation to be approved.

Foxworth said considering the area has about a 6-to-1 ratio of commercial properties to residential, he could not support the muffled voice business owners would have in the election.

“I just don’t like the way they’re doing it,” Foxworth said. “This is the first time I think we’ve seen this type of annexation in Horry County. I think you’re probably looking at a pattern if it’s successful. You’ll see it replicated, not only in the city of Myrtle Beach, but in other cities. And I think we’re going to see some push back from commercial property owners who didn’t request annexation.”

Councilman Paul Prince said after the initial vote that he would like the council to reconsider its vote now that Foxworth explained his opposition.

“I understand that now,” Prince said. “This [annexation] is not right.”

After another vote, the resolution failed 6-4 with Councilmen Brent Schulz, Al Allen, Bob Grabowski and James Frazier supporting the petitioner’s efforts.

In March, Myrtle Beach City Council voted on the annexation. Forty-six people, which is more than 25 percent of voters in the proposed annexation area, signed a petition for the annexation, allowing the matter to advance as far as County Council. Councilmen now move the request to committee to decide further action.

Businesses like The Gold Club, stores in the Dail Centre shopping plaza on Jason Boulevard, BMW of Myrtle Beach and The Sun News would have been affected by the annexation.

A city of Myrtle Beach 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.