How delaying a 'big money' project solved this development's flooding issue

Mullet Creek in Little River, South Carolina.
Mullet Creek in Little River, South Carolina. jlee@thesunnews.com

Horry County Council on Tuesday voted to rezone property in the former Heather Glenn golf course after previously delaying the vote to pressure developers to clean out Mullet Creek, which runs just south of the proposed development.

County planners had argued that the zoning change for the development features 57 acres of ponds, a 35-foot buffer and more open-space requirements than the existing zoning, and reduces potential flooding problems that neighbors could have during a big storm.

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But Worley still wanted to increase the water flow in Mullet Creek , and fought against the rezoning to get the problem fixed to prevent any future flooding problems.

"It should have been done years ago, but you had to deal with (The South Carolina Department of Transportation) and had a lot of different players involved," Worley said. "But when you have big money involved like D.R. Horton wanting to build and slow that process down, you get attention. By simply holding the project up. We were able to get the problem solved."

Assistant County Administrator Steve Gosnell said the county, working with the developers, had cleaned out the creek between Highway 17 and Highway 179 and lowered the water level more than 3.5 feet.

Mullet Creek pictured after the creek was cleared out. Courtesy, Harold Worley

County spokeswoman Kelly Moore said the county got permission from the property owner to clear out the creek, using equipment and operators provided by the developer.

Worely said that Mullet Creek had been a problem for more than 20 years.

"They cleared out about 200 yards of trees and muck so that it would drain Mullet Creek down to the inland waterway," Worely said.

Council Chair Mark Lazarus said there were "some tensions" in the debate leading up to the rezoning.

"It really shows you how the process is supposed to work, how the people are heard, how our council members put their input in and work for their constituencies and at the end of the day I think we really come out with something that’s beneficial for the entire community," Lazarus said.

"It’s good to be pressed sometimes."

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