County’s 3,700 acre, $11 million land purchase includes new Carolina Forest road

Horry County council members revealed Tuesday that an $11 million land purchase they’re eying near Carolina Forest would also allow them to relieve road congestion in that area and extend Gardner Lacy Road to International Drive.

The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on whether to purchase the 3,700 acres from Virginia-based Riverstone Properties.

The vast expanse of wetlands would primarily be used for mitigation property to satisfy environmental demands in constructing RIDE III projects, a voter-approved sales tax to pay for road construction.

Councilors say the purchase will provide the right-of-way property needed to extend Gardner Lacy to International Drive, according to Councilmen Mark Lazarus and Johnny Vaught.

“That’s the long-range plan, obviously, but we know Gardner Lacy’s got to go through there and connect up because it’s a dead-end out there now,” Vaught said. “There’s already so much traffic going down Gardner Lacy cutting through residential areas to cut across to other roads (in Carolina Forest).”

Vaught said it’s too soon to tell when construction might begin on the road extension, but the property is for sale now, and the county needs it, he said.

“With this property, we won’t have to buy much right-of-way property at all, and the mitigation will be done too. So it’s a good thing all the way around,” Vaught said.

Council Chair Lazarus said that the county plans on buying 3,687 acres at $3,000 per acres for a total of $11 million with leftover money from the earlier RIDE II sales tax. The rest of the $12.9 million could be used for wetlands restoration, he said.

Lazarus said the land will be set aside for mitigation credits, land that counties set aside to make up for wetlands that are disturbed or destroyed during major construction.

Vaught said the county would get around 2,800 mitigation credits for the amount of land preserved, which is a cheaper deal than buying the credits on the open market.

“If you have to go out on the market and try and buy them, they set the price on them and you don’t have any idea of what it’s really going to cost you,” Vaught said. “We’re going to get around 2,800 mitigation credits out of it. That will allow us to take care of all our needs for ride III.”

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson