NMB residents hope to protect Ingram Dunes
Ingram Dunes, a plot of land that has been at the center of a debate for years, now has a new bidder in the game.
The City of North Myrtle Beach recently announced its hope to purchase the land at the corner of Hillside Drive and 10th Avenue South and make it a park.
"The city has been making efforts to talk to the owner about whether or not they have a willingness to sell, what might be their asking price and working with state and other officials to determine if there's any foundation or any money out there that could go toward helping to purchase the property for preservation as a park," city spokesman Pat Dowling said.
Dowling said the city is having the land appraised and looking at its history.
"We're looking at its history and essentially seeing if we can, number one, come up with real money, not just hypothetical money from this foundation or that, but true money that can be counted on, plus some city money," Dowling said. "At which point we would be able to make an offer to the owner to purchase the property. So that's where it stands now".
Dowling said once the city receives an appraised value of the property and a fair market value profit, it can decide what its offer could be. After, the city will need to figure out where funding could come from, such as state or foundation money.
"It needs to get real very soon and the public is going to have a part in terms of participating by donating funds to the purchase of the property," Dowling said. "Once we determine that the hypothetical money out there is real and that we have an offer that we want to make then we will start fundraising from the public side of things as well."
A fight for preservation
It's been a long road for those wanting to preserve the land.
The owners, along with developers DDC Engineers, proposed construction of 31 single-family homes, which would result in tearing out or replanting of trees, six of which are live oaks that are 24-inch caliper or larger, Dowling said.
Because of the size of the trees, Dowling said they would have to be preserved or mitigated.
If the developers want to remove the trees all at once they will have to go before the North Myrtle Beach Board of Zoning Appeals. Otherwise, they will have to remove the trees plat by plat.
In January 2017, a handful of residents asked council to consider saving the land. At the time, city officials said they could only consider zoning on the private property.
However, Dowling said the owner of the land is not opposed to other options.
"He's not adverse to selling it to somebody else, but if he receives an offer and doesn't like it then he'll probably continue on to develop the property," Dowling said. "It's his timetable, not ours. Then again, you can't expect him to wait a year or two while everyone makes up their mind."
The land is currently under contract with a buyer, leaving a window of 90 days or less for the city to make a move.
Now, Damien Triouleyre, who runs the website ingramdunes.org, has already started fundraising for the purchase of the property.
A GoFundMe page has been set up where residents can donate a specified amount of money. So far, $1,600 has been raised out of a $10,000 goal.
"I think people were really happy and surprised that the city, rather than standing on the sideline for a year and a half, now they're saying they're fully in this and working," Triouleyre said. "So that's a very wonderful turn of events that just happened in the last week.
"Now there's the details of how much money the city will give toward that effort, how much the price will be negotiated at with the owners and thirdly, how much money we are expected to raise, either from conservation or from donations from the citizens."