Myrtle Beach city council debates Ocean Boulevard zoning overlay
Smoke shops, CBD oil and sexually explicit items will no longer be allowed on Ocean Boulevard between 6th Avenue South to 16th Avenue North.
During a Myrtle Beach City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon, five out of seven members voted to pass the Ocean Boulevard overlay district, banning cannabis products, alternative nicotine, vapor products and e-cigarettes to create a family-friendly environment, officials said.
Councilmen Gregg Smith and Mike Lowder opposed the motion.
“Does the sale of items that we’ve got here, does that say family friendly or not?” city manager John Pedersen asked. “If it doesn’t say family friendly to you, I don’t think it will to our visitors.”
Cigarettes and tobacco products are allowed, as long as they are not the main product sold in a store. Originally, the ordinance included weapons and items that depicted weapons, but due to legal concerns they were removed from the ordinance.
During the discussion, Police Chief Amy Prock set out items purchased bought from downtown stores, including a T-shirt saying “It’s only illegal if you get caught,” CBD oil, edibles and synthetic marijuana.
Lowder said he did not support the first reading of the ordinance, which was discussed in June 2017, and he does not support the idea now.
“If you want to change that boulevard, the number one thing is you change the behavior,” Lowder said. “That is our issue. So if you really want to go to work and clean up that boulevard, I‘ve been saying this now for nine years, aggressive, aggressive enforcement of our law.”
Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat disagreed, saying, “We are desperate. And until we get some good cooperation from the businesses, I don’t think there’s anything else we can do.”
Jeffcoat said she is embarrassed of Ocean Boulevard, and efforts made by the city to clean up downtown Myrtle Beach have not received a welcome response from certain business owners.
According to Mayor Brenda Bethune, business owners who participated in this summer’s pilot program aimed at making improvements to the boulevard approved of the plan. Those business owners included Larry Bond, who owns several downtown restaurants, Buzz Plyler, owner of the Gay Dolphin and Victor Shamah, who owns The Bowery.
“We have to take control of what we’re offering, and when we say we want to make a family-friendly environment, we need to make sure every decision reflects that,” Bethune said.
Several downtown business owners spoke during the meeting.
Malena Polani, a Myrtle Beach resident opposed the district, saying two stores that sell CBD oil are located in The Market Common, a family-friendly area.
“Passage of this ordinance would accomplish little or nothing to change crime issues we have in the overlay district, but it would irreversibly impact our business community,” resident Ed Carey said.
Plyler said he is not in favor of a specific district banning certain items. Rather, he would like to see a city-wide ban.
All banned items must be removed from stores by Dec. 31.