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$11 million county land buy includes mitigation, recreation and a new road

Horry County plans to purchase 3,700 acres of property on the west side of International Drive to serve as a wetlands mitigation area and to extend Gardner Lacy Road to International Drive. Jan. 23, 2018.
Horry County plans to purchase 3,700 acres of property on the west side of International Drive to serve as a wetlands mitigation area and to extend Gardner Lacy Road to International Drive. Jan. 23, 2018. jlee@thesunnews.com

Horry County’s $11 million land buy in Carolina Forest will provide wetland mitigation for future road construction and provide property needed to extend Gardner Lacy Road to International Drive.

County Council voted for the $12.9 million deal Tuesday. It includes 3,700 acres of land at $3,000 an acre, the mineral rights and the cost of setting up a wetlands mitigation bank to offset wetlands disturbed by future road construction.

It will also provide the land needed to extend Gardner Lacy Road to International Drive.

“This is something we’ve worked on for a while now,” said council Chair Mark Lazarus. “I think this is one of the most exciting purchases we’ve made in Horry County history for the benefit of the citizens.”

The chunk of land west of International Drive will be called the Independent Republic Heritage Preserve, and Lazarus said he expects to close on the property by the end of February. Development of houses and commercial structures will not be allowed.

“This acreage will be protected by a permanent conservation easement restricting any future development and improving the unique coastal Carolina Bay habitat,” Lazarus said. “There will also be possibilities for passive recreation uses for residents to include hiking, biking, bird-watching and hunting.”

The county will also put in a pathway to extend Gardner Lacy Road to International Drive.

“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,” said councilor Johnny Vaught. “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,” Vaught said. “So it’s a good thing all the way around.”

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson

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