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North Myrtle Beach to spend millions on almost 100 acres to expand sports complex

North Myrtle Beach officials plan to spend over $4.2 million to purchase nearly 100 acres of land west of the Intracoastal Waterway to expand the city’s Park & Sports Complex.

City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance Monday night that will amend its 2020 budget allowing the city to purchase approximately 96 acres of land. Since the purchase of the land was not included in the budget process, officials said it’s necessary to pass a budget amendment in order to secure the purchase.

“I think this will be good for us,” Councilman Hank Thomas said during Monday’s city council meeting.

The land, currently owned by Sandridge LLC, will be used to expand the North Myrtle Beach Park & 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. City officials last month passed the first reading of an ordinance that would acquire and rezone the land, but tabled its second reading to Aug. 19.

While the land could soon be North Myrtle Beach-owned property, city spokesperson Pat Dowling said the city will take out a short-term loan to purchase the land, with council later determining how they want to construct the acreage when discussions pertaining to the city’s 2021 budget begin next year.

If council chooses to move forward on any additional projects, Dowling said funding would be secured through a bond.

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Baseball fields inside the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports complex in North Myrtle Beach. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

“A determination as to when City Council wants to begin actual construction of the new facilities on the 96 acres will wait until FY 2021 budget discussions,” Dowling said. “The goal right now is to acquire the land itself, which requires the FY 2020 budget amendment.”

Despite the purchase, Dowling said the $37.1 millage rate for next year’s approved $92.1 million budget will remain the same.

Officials also tabled the second reading of another ordinance that 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.

Earlier this year, Myrtle Beach developers DDC Engineers submitted an application to rezone the 145 acres from commercial to residential.

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The Park Pointe neighborhood adjacent to the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports complex in North Myrtle Beach. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

If city leaders pass a second reading on all three ordinances next month, it would end a long-time feud between the city and Sandridge regarding the extension of Champions Boulevard.

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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 landowners 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.

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.

The city dropped the lawsuit in February when both sides agreed to negotiate a plan, according to Mayor Marilyn Hatley.

Council will meet again Aug. 19.

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Anna Young is the Coastal Cities reporter for The Sun News covering anything and everything that happens locally. Young, an award-winning journalist who got her start reporting local news in New York, is dedicated to upholding the values of journalism by listening, learning, seeking out the truth and reporting it accurately. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Purchase College.
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