Myrtle Beach Planning Commission decides fate of Yaupon Drive name change

Yaupon Drive, Myrtle Beach S.C.
Yaupon Drive, Myrtle Beach S.C. jbell@thesunnews.com

Residents on the south end of Yaupon Drive between 19th Ave. South and 29th Ave. South entered the Myrtle Beach Planning Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon with one goal in mind: to change the name of the street to Southern Pointe Drive.

However, they left disappointed after members of planning commission voted in a tie over the proposal, meaning that the motion to change the name did not pass.

The residents there say they have worked for years to clean up the street from 19th Ave. South to 29th Ave. South, a neighborhood known as South Beach, in an effort to distance themselves from the drugs and prostitution associated with the street’s name.

“I’m really disappointed, really disappointed because, as I said to the planning commission, this really is a success story for the city,” Craig Teller, a resident of the south end of Yaupon, said. “We had a neighborhood that over the last seven years has cleaned up, we’ve worked closely with the city, all we’re asking is to change the name within our neighborhood of the street that has a very bad name to better reflect the true character of the neighborhood.

“And it doesn’t affect anybody outside our neighborhood. We have the support of city leaders, everybody within the neighborhood, and for some reason four members of the planning commission just cannot see this.”

Teller, along with other residents in the area, formed a neighborhood watch group about seven years ago that now has about 275 businesses and families involved. After cleaning up the area, residents were required to file a petition to planning commission, stating that at least 75 percent of people on the south end were in favor of the name change.

“I can tell you that a tremendous amount of time and work went into getting the petition signed and it’s only good for a couple of more months, then we have to go back out and get another petition signed,” Teller said. “It’s a huge amount of effort, to come back to a planning commission that seems deeply divided and doesn’t seem to want to help the neighborhood’s here in Myrtle Beach.”

After they filed the petition, planning commission debated whether or not the change the name. Had they voted in favor of the change, a traffic circle would have been installed at 19th Ave. South so there was a point where the name change occurred.

While the decision came as a disappointment to south Yaupon residents, those on the north end were not in favor of the proposal. Bettie Olivieri, a resident of 16th Ave. South has opposed the plan, saying she wants to see crime cleaned up on the entire street.

“I was never in favor of the name change, and I feel sad for them today because they really did work hard, but my goal all along was for the entire south end to work together,” Olivieri said. “That changing the name of 10 blocks would not make a difference. You would have to take that property and pick it up and put it somewhere else not to be in the crime area. So the name wouldn’t make a difference. We just need the support of the city, we need the support of our amazing police department and finally come together and clean up the south end of this beach.”

Residents in favor of changing the street name will have the opportunity to go in front of planning commission again if they want to. Teller said that the residents would be willing to change the entire street name once the crime is cleaned up, but that it would be difficult to get 75 percent of residents on the entire street to sign another petition.

“There’s very few full-time residences up there,” Teller said. “It’s mostly businesses and rental properties, vacant lots. It would be very very difficult to get 75 percent all the way up on that north end of Yaupon.”

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic