800 acres. 1,500 homes. Here’s a look at a potential subdivision in Horry County.

Construction crews work on a house in Cameron Village in Socastee on Friday.
Construction crews work on a house in Cameron Village in Socastee on Friday. jbell@thesunnews.com

A new subdivision could be coming to Old Highway 90, but it’s going to be a process to get it there.

The area that could become the housing complex is owned by Bear Bone, Bear Claw Associates and Bear Paw Associates. If allowed, it will be approved for about 1,500 single-family lots.

The project went in front of Planning Commission during its workshop meeting Thursday. Workshops are for information only and nothing was formally decided. There was no opportunity for public comment. Commission decisions are made at the main meeting, which will be held Sept. 6.

Mike Wooten with DDC Engineering, representing the potential developers of the land, said the area is an urban corridor and a prime spot to build on.

If approved, the area will be rezoned for a minimum of 6,000-square-foot lots, which is the smallest minimum lot size the county allows at about a tenth of an acre per plot. Still, the proposed development will sit on over 800 acres of land in total.

Part of the area was zoned for 10,000-square-foot lots before the Envision 2025 land-use map took effect. A land-use map is the guideline that directs planning commission decisions on what kind of development is appropriate in a region.

Once that 2025 map began, it made the area scenic and conservation, which is not approved for housing or development.

In order to build, the comprehensive plan will need to be changed or the county could be sued. David Schwerd, Horry planning director, said county staff recommends that if the area is to be rezoned, the planning commission should change the comprehensive plan.

If the 2025 plan is changed, it will require a 30-day public hearing period.

Wooten said that 10,000-square-foot lots are not selling well now, which is why his clients want to be rezoned for smaller lots. He said building closer lots makes it easier to avoid expansive urban sprawl.

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A map of the are of Old Highway 90 where a housing complex could go. Tyler Fleming

Smaller lots means less sprawl, but it also means more people.

A study of the traffic impact of the complex was delayed to await for International Drive to be completed and for school to start again. This should be finished soon.

Wooten said his clients are willing to make needed updates to help fix the traffic strains created in the area.

There are concerns about traffic, public safety and environmental impacts in the area, Schwerd said.

The developers are offering to pay around $1,000 a unit to help deal with the strain the new development might cause on public safety services. The development agreement will go to the public safety committee of Horry County Council before it can be decided on in planning commission.

The agreement must get approval from the committee next month.

A letter from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources told the commission it had concerns about building on the Bare Bone property, citing environmental concerns.

“The SCDNR is concerned over changes in hydrology, altering of ecosystem services provided by the bay, and potential impacts to threatened, endangered and rare species in close proximity,” Alicia Farrell with DNR wrote in a July letter to Horry County.

The property shares a Carolina Bay with the Lewis Ocean Bay heritage preserve. Farrell said her department wants to make sure its protected lands are not affected.

The Horry County Parks and Open Spaces board also wrote a letter expressing concerns over the development.

Wooten argued that if the land needs to be protected, it’s from “property line in, not the property line out.”

Planning Commission is a technical review that ensures that developments are legal and within the county’s zoning ordinances. It takes recommendations of Horry County staff and decides if the project should be sent to county council.

If the project is not approved by the commission, developers can chose to take up their in case in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The next public comment opportunity will be at the planning commissions meeting Sept. 6 at the Horry County Government Center.

If it passes commission, it will go onto County Council, where there will also be opportunity for public comment.