I have been a resident of Georgetown County all of my life and I have watched the county make some good choices and I have watched county officials make some terrible mistakes. This is an opportunity for the current County Council to avoid making a grave and long lasting mistake on the Waccamaw Neck.
Size matters and bigger is not better. The Waccamaw Neck is named so because it occupies a narrow strip of land between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean. We are physically restrained and strongly affected by tides from the river on one side and the ocean on the other. Due to the relatively small size of our community we have only one main road for commercial development, U.S. 17. Any and all development along our one road needs to fit within the natural confines of our limited space. A law is already in effect that limits the scale of development to 45,000 square feet for any commercial development on and along U.S. 17 at Pawleys Island. It is imperative that County Council not bend these rules and allow oversized development into our small, very confined community.
The Pawleys Island community already suffers from serious traffic problems and flooding on U.S. 17. The added impact on our one road and our confined community from a 120,000 square foot development will be devastating. (The proposed Sunbelt Ventures development is 120,000 square feet as compared to Fresh Market that is 21,000 square feet) Where is all of the runoff from these new buildings and parking lot going to go when there is a downpour and it is high tide? Judging from the experience on Aug. 29, that runoff water will end up on our one road, U.S. 17, causing even more flooding, traffic congestion and accidents.
Don’t be fooled into the belief that this is good for Pawleys Island. The facts have been printed many times of the drain from a megastore on a small community. We at Pawleys should not want or need the strain on our roads, the tax on our drainage, or the devastation to our many small businesses.
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A vote against the zoning changes proposed for Sunbelt Ventures megastore development by County Council may be a vote against the wishes of the County Administration BUT it is a vote for the betterment of small community on the brink of devastating and irreversible change. This is an opportunity for Georgetown County Council to make a really good decision for Georgetown County.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.