North Myrtle Beach approves pair of ordinances that ends longtime feud with community

North Myrtle Beach officials approved a set of ordinances Monday night that will expand the city’s Park and Sports Complex and see a residential community developed on land west of the Intracoastal Waterway.

City officials approved the second reading of a set of ordinances that will 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 will 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 Point, a residential community, by Nov. 1.

Officials have attested the lane expansion will alleviate congestion that periodically occurs during events at the Park and Sports Complex.

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

A second ordinance will amend the city’s 2020 budget, allowing the city to expend over $4.2 million to purchase the land. Since the deal was not included in the budget process, officials said it’s necessary to pass a budget amendment to secure the purchase.

While the land will soon be North Myrtle Beach-owned property, city spokesperson Pat Dowling previously said the city will take out a short-term loan to purchase the land, with council members 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. Despite the purchase, Dowling assured the 37.1 millage rate for this year’s $92.1 million budget will remain the same.

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.

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

The development of three parcels, proposed by Myrtle Beach developer DDC Engineers, would be capped to no more than 750 dwelling units collectively, according to city officials.

Developer Graeme Black told city leaders the proposed residential development will be a positive aspect for the community, adding how it will likely trigger additional development along Champions Boulevard.

“We’re not here to determine what the final product is going to be on that property but we’re here presenting a reasonable and appropriate rezoning from a commercial use to residential use, the same use as Parke Pointe,” Black said. “This is something that is good for the community.”

With Mayor Marilyn Hatley noting how residents at Park Pointe, an adjacent development, have expressed opposition with the height and density of the proposed project, she urged Black to consider their concerns before moving forward with a final proposal.

“I’m hopeful that you as a developer will be honorable enough to consider their needs,” Hatley said.

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

The passage of each ordinance Monday night puts an end to a longtime feud 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.

Hatley said Sandridge changed the dynamics of the whole development when it placed it into a conservation easement.

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.

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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.