North Myrtle Beach is one step closer to acquiring nearly 100 acres of land west of the Intracoastal Waterway in North Myrtle Beach to expand the city’s Park and Sports Complex and develop a residential community nearby.
City officials approved the first reading of a pair of ordinances Monday night that would amend an agreement between the city and landowner, SLF IV/SBI Sandridge LLC, to construct on five parcels of the 1,600-acre land.
One ordinance would acquire 96 acres from Sandridge to expand the city’s sports complex and provide lane expansion to Champions Boulevard from Robert Edge Parkway to the entrance of Park Pointe, a residential community, by Nov. 1.
Officials said the lane expansion will alleviate congestion that periodically occurs during events at the Park and Sports Complex.
“That’s going to be a relief for people to move traffic, for the new development that is there now, as well as what’s going to be built in the future on the existing property that is left,” Mayor Marilyn Hatley said.
The other ordinance would rezone about 145 acres of vacant and undeveloped land off Champions Boulevard and Long Bay Road from commercial to mid-rise multifamily residential. The vacant and undeveloped land was zoned commercial when it was annexed into the city in 2011.
The development of three parcels would be capped to no more than 750 dwelling units collectively, according to city officials.
If city leaders pass a second reading on both ordinances next month, it would resolve a lawsuit between the city and Sandridge regarding the extension of Champions Boulevard.
In June 2011, when the land was annexed into North Myrtle Beach, the city and Sandridge entered into a Master Development Agreement over the property, including the city purchasing about 136 acres of Sandridge land to construct the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex and expand the roadway.
But soon after, the property owners sparked contention when they put more than 1,000 acres of the land into conservation easements, squashing any plans the city had to develop the property and expand their commercial growth.
“When they put it into a conservation easement, they changed the dynamics of the whole development,” Hatley said.
The two sides agreed that the property owners could place any of its land, unless it’s zoned commercial, into conservation easements. About 420 acres were zoned commercial, and some of that land is currently being developed into Park Pointe.
However, North Myrtle Beach filed a lawsuit against Sandridge in 2017, alleging that the landowners weren’t providing the deed to the right-of-way necessary for the city to construct the additional road.
Hatley said the city dropped the lawsuit in February when both sides agreed to negotiate a plan.
When Myrtle Beach developers DDC Engineers submitted an application to rezone the 145 acres from commercial to residential, Hatley said officials felt it was a good fit for the property.
But those residing at Park Pointe, an adjacent development, signaled opposition during Monday’s City Council meeting, requesting city officials rezone the proposed development site to R-1, a lower density residential district.
“I want to preserve and protect the integrity of our neighborhood and our development,” Park Pointe resident Richard Artenian said. “A rezoning classification is more conducive to our area.”
Park Pointe resident William Miller added he isn’t opposed to rezoning but advised officials to consider the infrastructure first.
“Think about the infrastructure first before you start building on top of us and creating chaos,” Miller said. “We don’t want to see that sports complex ruined.”
Hatley explained the infrastructure would be addressed before the developer can submit a building permit to the city. She added the approved ordinances would also restrict the landowner from placing the property into a conservation easement.
“It’s a compromise,” Hatley said.