Massive neighborhood may be built near Conway. Here’s what we know

Building Boom in Horry County

Horry County is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. The population is expected to surpass 500,000 by the year 2040. The influx of new residents is stressing roads, public safety, schools and infrastructure.
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Horry County is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. The population is expected to surpass 500,000 by the year 2040. The influx of new residents is stressing roads, public safety, schools and infrastructure.

A proposed housing project off Collins Jollie Road could bring well over 1,000 homes to Conway.

On Monday, Conway’s City Council Planning and Development Committee held a meeting to discuss if it’s appropriate to allow 673 acres to be rezoned from a low density (R1) code to a planned district (PD).

“The bigger the project, the better we can make the project,” said Mike Wooten with DDC Engineers. “We feel the pros far outweigh the cons.”

Wooten, the engineer designing the project, is representing developer D.J. Karavan.

No votes were taken and no decision was made at the Monday meeting. Wooten spoke and addressed concerns from council members Jean Timbes and Tom Anderson.

The new zoning code would allow for townhouses, single-family homes and some businesses to exist in the same area. It would be built on both sides of Collins Jollie Road to the northern part of Conway.

At a maximum, nearly 2,000 units could be built over 20 years in a more-than-10-phase build-out, according to the plans submitted to the City of Conway. Of those units, more than 1,200 could be single-family houses.

The density of the development will be just below three units an acre with 51 acres of open space.

The PD zoning code requires green space, a city park and walk-ability within the neighborhood. The park would be a donation of land to the city.

Within the development, residents could have some smaller businesses and shops, like a dollar store or convenience center, constructed within walking distance of the houses.

A public input meeting will be held on Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Conway Recreation Center to discuss the development plans before they go on to city council.

The city council will hold a public hearing and first reading vote on the request on Oct. 7. If approved at the first meeting, the second reading vote and a second public hearing will be on Oct. 21.

Public concerns

Not all of the land would be developed due to wetlands located in a corner of the property. Also, some of the areas around the development are in designated flood zones, according to the Horry County Geographic Information System (GIS) map.

A well-engineered project will not make rain flooding worse if the proper controls are in place, Wooten said. He added that river flooding like in Hurricane Florence is an act of God and beyond human control to stop.

Council members questioned Wooten about other public concerns, including public safety and traffic control.

Wooten said his client is willing to create a $500 impact fee per unit paid to the City of Conway to help fund the strain it may create on Conway’s public safety, traffic patterns and public services. In addition, it would create a special tax increase of four mills called a “MID” or “Municipal Improvement District” on the property to help cover recurring expenses.

“We feel like development for this project should pay for itself,” Wooten said.

Conway Administrator Adam Emrick said since this special tax millage would be the city’s first, his staff is figuring out how much revenue the extra money will bring in.

Wooten added that while residents in the neighborhood will pay higher taxes, it’ll be a high quality neighborhood and still cheaper than the places new residents are moving here from.

Anderson said he is still worried this money will not be enough to benefit current citizens, but is waiting to see the numbers.

If approved, the development is still required to meet all stormwater, road improvements and building code ordinances.

Even without city approval, the property owners could go ahead and build about 250 fewer single-family homes under current zoning codes. There would probably be no impact fees or special tax districts.

Wooten said if they build under the current zoning, it will be hard to make a project as nice as what his client is proposing.

“My client didn’t buy this property to sit on it . . . He bought it to develop it,” Wooten said.

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