With a deadline for purchasing Ingram Dunes long past, property owners are moving forward with proposed plans for the North Myrtle Beach dunes.
The land, which sits at the corner of Hillside Drive and 10th Avenue South, has been a hotly debated topic since January 2017, when land owners proposed building 31 single-family homes on the property. Local residents have opposed the idea, wanting to purchase the area and build a park with the help of city officials.
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In April, when the city announced their intent to contribute up to $500,000 toward the purchase of the property, they had a 90-day deadline.
According to documents The Sun News obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, 51 of the on-site trees could soon be removed. DDC Engineers, along with Ingram Dunes property owners, could begin as soon as Monday.
Under a permit which was granted by the City of North Myrtle Beach in May, some trees scattered throughout the property were approved for removal.
“We feel it absolutely necessary to take this action at this time in order to protect our Client’s rights as the owner of this property for several generations,” said James Wooten, president of DDC Engineers, in a letter obtained through the FOIA request.
According to North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling, the majority of the 51 trees are pine, which is not a protected species.
However, because a Land Disturbance Permit has not yet been issued by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, developers cannot remove stumps or do any work that would disturb the ground. The permit is issued to regulate the city’s stormwater management system.
The Sun News has reached out the DHEC for an update on when the permit could be issued, but did not immediately receive a response.
According to a map received through the FOIA request, over 30 trees are marked for preservation. Many people who oppose the construction are concerned over six live oaks that are 24-inch caliper or larger.
Because of the size of the trees, Dowling said they would have to be preserved or mitigated.
In order to remove all trees from the property, landowners would have to go before the North Myrtle Beach Board of Zoning Appeals, Dowling said in April. Otherwise, they will have to remove the trees plat by plat.
“We clearly recognize that those citizens who may oppose any activity on our Client’s property will likely complain to S.C. DHEC and the City of North Myrtle Beach,” Wooten wrote in the letter. “The purpose of this letter is to advise S.C. DHEC and the City of our intent, so that both will be prepared to respond to these complaints in the event they are lodged.”
The city is pursuing additional funding from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, Dowling said, as well as working to raise $500,000 to purchase the land.
In the FOIA, Dowling said the bank appears to have received about $18 million in grant applications, “including one from the City, but may only have around one-third of that in actual funds to disperse.”
Dowling said the city is not sure when the bank’s board will meet next, but that about $30,000 has been contributed to the purchase of the land from the public, including $10,000 from Horry County Councilman Harold Worley.
A GoFundMe page has been set up where residents can donate. So far, over $5,000 has been raised out of a $10,000 goal.
“We’re still communicating with them, asking them to not take this step forward,” Dowling said.