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Highway 90 residents fear future flooding if large-scale development continues

Future flooding was on the minds of the residents of S.C. Highway 90 who attended Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting.

During Hurricane Florence, water entered many homes and made the road unusable for a few days in some areas. Hurricane Dorian also left several roads and yards flooded with some property damage.

“These problems are a direct result of irresponsible development,” said Finley MacIver, a 19-year-old resident of the area. “I have been in this community all my life, and I don’t want to raise kids here if it’s going to keep on like this.”

Several rezoning requests for developments along the road — which runs from Conway all the way to Wampee near Little River — were on the Tuesday’s agenda. The area has been growing largely due to International Drive making trips to Myrtle Beach much easier.

Three of the projects all sought to rezone from their current Commercial Forest Agriculture. The zoning code allows for “agriculture, forestry, low-density residential, commercial, social cultural, recreational and religious uses.”

A project from Beverly Homes seeks to rezone a property from CFA to Single Family 10 near Gully Store Court. The new zoning code would allow for 125 homes on 10,000-square-foot lots. Council voted 8-4 to approve the project’s second reading.

Another project represented by G3 Engineering sought to rezone a property near Old Reaves Ferry Road from CFA to Multi-Resdential One on 10,000-square-foot lots, bringing 52 homes. It passed 9-3 on second reading. MRD1 allows for various types of homes to be in rural areas of the county.

The Bear Paw tract, a second G3 Engineering project on the agenda, would rezone a CFA property to MRD1 to bring 61 homes onto Old Highway 90 passing 9-3 on second reading. A previous attempt to rezone this property failed in 2018.

The key issue is CFA allows for low-density subdivisions to be built on the property without county council approval. Council Member Danny Hardee said it makes deciding how to vote on these projects difficult when they can be developed either way.

Residents in the area who spoke during the council meeting are asking council to help control growth by potentially bringing changes to the zoning code to make future building more responsible given Highway 90 has flooding issues.

MacIver was just one of several community members who talked about flooding on Highway 90 and the feeling not enough is being done to help them. Pictures were shown of flooding following the most recent hurricane, and the blame rested on a nearby development.

“We’re trying to impress upon on y’all we’re having bad stormwater experiences with these developers,” resident Amelia Wood said. “I understand you’re between a rock and a hard place … but we just want y’all to know things are not good in our neighborhood.”

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Yard flooding following Hurricane Dorian near Highway 90. Photo provided by Amelia Wood

Forrest Beverly of Beverly Homes said his company is local and wants to be stewards of the community. He said the problematic development near this land was due to the fact his company inherited that project after much of the stormwater infrastructure was put in place.

“We don’t want to affect anyone negatively around us. We want to improve the situation,” Beverly said. “We’re trying to work it out. … We’re here and we’re willing to take any concerns.”

And with the CFA zoning code, Beverly and the other developers have the right to build on their property as long as they meet all regulations.

Currently, many developers say Horry County has some of the toughest stormwater ordinances in the southeast. But moving forward, Hardee said more needs to be done to protect the residents in flood-prone areas.

Hardee suggested to give more teeth to the stormwater ordinance to stop repeated flooding problems. Council Member Tyler Servant asked if the current land uses for CFA properties could be changed to remove multi-family housing from the zoning code.

County Attorney David Jordan said the county should be able to legally remove that zoning code but added “there is always the chance of liability when you start monkeying with people’s property rights.”

The issue of what changes the CFA zoning code needs could be discussed at an upcoming council workshop on the Imagine 2040 plan. In its land-use recommendations, the 2040 plan lists most of the Highway 90 area as a rural community, which still allows for development as long as it does not harm the character of the community.

The workshop date has not been set.

“If we don’t do something about it, I’ll tell you who will: the voters. The voters will throw us out of office,” Council Member Harold Worley said.

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