Post Tagged with: "flooding"

Election Runoff Presents Important Decision for Voters in Council District 9

June 19, 2020 4:14 PM
Election Runoff Presents Important Decision for Voters in Council District 9

Voters in District 9 will go to the polls Tuesday to decide who will represent them for the next four years on county council.

The runoff election is between Terry Fowler and Mark Causey.

Fowler is a retired Horry County police officer while Causey is a real estate broker.

That difference in jobs caused some of the citizens in the district to link Causey to the real estate development interests in the county.

However, I am not sure that distinction is correct in this race.

Fowler openly supported former council chairman Mark Lazarus against current council chairman Johnny Gardner in the 2018 council chairman race. No one on council was more associated with the development industry than Lazarus.

If employment is to be a determining factor in who is tied to developers, consider there are Fowler family employment connections to the Shep Guyton Law Firm, a firm intimately connected to the development industry in the county.

Shep Guyton was fined by the South Carolina Ethics Commission for his part in the $325,000 disbursal of campaign contributions to politicians at the local and state level who were involved in the process that resulted in the imposition of the Myrtle Beach Chamber’s Tourism Development Fee.

If one looks on the surface at associations that could be tied to the development industry in Horry County, Fowler’s are certainly more suspect than Causey’s.

The Fraternal Order of Police branch in the county endorsed a number of candidates in county elections for this primary cycle. Fowler, a former police officer, was not one of them. I expect this was because of Fowler’s support of Lazarus in 2018. Gardner was endorsed by the FOP and was certainly more supportive than Lazarus for changes that needed to happen with respect to pay and additional officers for the department.

The development industry has had a good election cycle this year. It was successful in getting Cam Crawford, Dennis Disabato and Gary Loftus reelected in the recent primaries. Republican primaries decide who will take office because of the lack of Democratic candidates in the November general election.

Read more ›

Decisions by County Government Determined by Who the Voters Elect

June 8, 2020 9:22 AM
Decisions by County Government Determined by Who the Voters Elect

Ultimately the type of government we have is a consequence of those we elect to serve in it.

In Horry County, I submit some of our incumbent council members are the wrong choice. These are charlatans who hold elective office for self-aggrandizing, self-enriching or ego boosting reasons, or some combination thereof.

They are happy to serve themselves, their large campaign donors and those they perceive to be power brokers. The needs of the citizens at large are a rare afterthought.

For decades, the development industry in Horry County has held influence over this type of council member, using that influence to get virtually anything it wanted, including developing wetlands, flood plains and areas without the necessary supporting infrastructure, approved by council.

Three council members up for reelection who fit completely into that mold are Dennis Disabato, Cam Crawford and Gary Loftus, in my opinion. Disabato and Crawford each draw over 50% of their campaign contributions from the development industry. Loftus was appointed to the advisory board of a developer funded institute at Coastal Carolina University that the development donors hoped would “tell their side”, as one of the big donors put it, on any study completed by the institute.

Crawford, Loftus and Disabato strongly supported the reelection of Mark Lazarus two years ago. After Lazarus lost the council chairman seat to Johnny Gardner, they bought into the fictitious plot, devised by former administrator Chris Eldridge, in consultation with Lazarus, to attempt to keep Gardner from taking office.

After a SLED investigation concluded there was nothing to the allegations by Eldridge, these three did everything they could to keep Eldridge in his administrator’s position including a bombastic display by Disabato in a special council meeting held to discuss Eldridge’s future.

They continue to support the Lazarus agenda two years after Lazarus lost a primary for reelection. For example, when Lazarus worked behind the scenes to get an area designated scenic and conservation rezoned for development, Crawford, Loftus and Disabato voted for the rezoning regardless of the potential flooding issues associated with the development.

Council will be making important decisions over the next few years regarding land use regulations, impact fees and improvements to the county’s stormwater management plan. Citizens need council members who will consider the welfare of the county as a whole as these important issues are considered, not ones who consider nothing more than what developers want.

Read more ›

The Incumbent Campaign of Misinformation and Desperation

June 7, 2020 11:21 AM
The Incumbent Campaign of Misinformation and Desperation

Misinformation and desperation are seeping into incumbent campaigns as we move toward primary voting Tuesday.

We have seen the SCGOP ignore campaign finance and ethics regulations to send numerous mailers supporting the reelection of Alan Clemmons and Heather Crawford.

Why would the SCGOP feel the need to insert itself into the contests between Republican candidates?

Obviously the party leaders in Columbia are afraid of losing two representatives who will do exactly what they are told to do.

Doing what they are told to do in Columbia doesn’t help the constituents Clemmons and Crawford are supposed to serve in Horry County. That’s why the panic.

In the past several days Clemmons and Luke Rankin have posted individual pictures of themselves with President Trump. Those were photo ops taken when the president was in Horry County during the Hurricane Florence flooding.

Both reportedly talked up the Interstate 73 project to the president during that trip. If Clemmons and Rankin are as close to President Trump as they would like you to believe, where are the federal dollars to build the interstate?

In similar fashion, one of the SCGOP mailers for Crawford and Clemmons touted an endorsement of them by the governor. Again, if they are so close to the governor and the legislative leaders in Columbia, for that matter, where are the state dollars to build I-73?

Clemmons has consistently stated I-73 is his number one priority as a legislator. Yet, year after year, no money comes from the state for the project.

Meanwhile Clemmons represents a declining Myrtle Beach that he appears to ignore as the number of empty commercial buildings in the city continues to rise every year.

One of the SCGOP mailers for Crawford attempted to present her as ‘working hard’ to solve the flooding problems in her district. She has done nothing other than clean out some ditches to help the citizens devastated by repeated flooding events since 2016 nor to mitigate future flooding. Again, no state grants have been forthcoming to help these needed initiatives.

Read more ›

Filing for Elected Office Begins in Two Weeks, Trouble for Incumbents?

March 2, 2020 10:33 AM
Filing for Elected Office Begins in Two Weeks, Trouble for Incumbents?

In two weeks candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle for state and local offices will begin.

Candidate filing begins at noon March 16, 2020. The local primary elections will be held June 9, 2020 with the winners of the primaries going on to the November 3, 2020 general election.

All seats in the General Assembly will be up for election, both House and Senate. Locally, five county council seats and five school board seats will be contested as well as the county wide offices of Sheriff, Treasurer, Auditor, Clerk of Courts, Probate Judge, Solicitor and Coroner.

In a one party county and state such as Horry and South Carolina, the primaries are where the real action will take place.

An anti-incumbent trend against elected officials in legislative positions was prevalent in the 2018 elections. Three out of four incumbents for either county council or the S.C. House of Representatives who were challenged by new candidates lost their seats. The fourth managed to squeak back into office by a margin of 31 votes.

There is no reason to expect that trend won’t continue in this election cycle.

Flooding resulting from what is seen by the voters as uncontrolled development in the county is a top issue with voters. One only has to see the “Tired of Flooding, Vote Them Out” signs along county roads to understand incumbents are in trouble with voters.

The lack of maintenance and enhancement of existing infrastructure while new projects such as Interstate 73 are pushed by legislators is seen as another significant problem for incumbents.

And the eternal question in the county of who or what influences incumbents when they cast their votes will be up for interpretation by voters. Do the incumbents vote for issues pushed by developers, the Chamber of Commerce and other special interests who fund their campaigns or do they consider what is in the best interests of the citizens they represent when voting?

The answer to that question may decide a number of races in June depending on how many incumbents are challenged.

Read more ›

What Is Really Possible to Mitigate Storm Water Flooding

February 22, 2020 4:09 AM
What Is Really Possible to Mitigate Storm Water Flooding

Flooding has again taken center stage in the news in Horry County this week while government officials continue to search for solutions.

Horry County faces potential problems from two different types of flooding. Flash flooding from extremely heavy rainfalls over a short period of time and riverine flooding when a large amount of water makes its way through the watershed from North Carolina to below Georgetown before it exits to the ocean.

While the county storm water plan addresses ways to attempt to mitigate flash flooding, attempts to mitigate riverine flooding have been largely ignored.

Even the task force put together by Governor Henry McMaster after Hurricane Florence suggested little more than to recommend cleaning out ditches, planting some trees and searching for ways to buyout homes which have been damaged or destroyed by recent flooding events.

Since this is an election year, the flooding problem is now present in the political dialogue where it should have been continuous at least since Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Horry County District 6 council member Cam Crawford opened his reelection campaign by proposing a resolution for county council to consider that would urge the state legislature to pass a bill his wife, Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford, is pushing in Columbia that would allow the county to borrow money from the state to provide local matching funds for buyouts of some flood affected homes.

Jeremy Halpin, Crawford’s primary opponent, said more is needed than just a bill for the county to borrow money. He proposed County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner appoint a Flooding Task Force subcommittee to propose, study and recommend a number of options to help the county mitigate flooding of both types.

Crawford responded by calling Halpin’s suggestion ‘political grandstanding’ and said he (Crawford) has been involved with the Governor’s Task Force working “since Hurricane Florence on research and meaningful solutions to flooding in our area.”

Read more ›

Challenger Hyman and Incumbent White Stand Out in Conway City Election

November 3, 2019 6:51 AM
Challenger Hyman and Incumbent White Stand Out in Conway City Election

Conway voters will go to the polls Tuesday to elect three members to city council.

Two incumbents, Larry White and Tom Anderson, are on the ballot with the third seat currently vacant guaranteeing at least one new council member.

Five challengers, Alex Hyman, Justin Jordan, Liz Gilland, Barb Eisenhardt and Randy Alford are seeking election.

Flooding will be on the minds of many voters thanks to the major storm events of recent years and memories going back to 1999 and Hurricane Floyd. What to do about new development in order to limit its effects on current homeowners is part of that discussion.

Two candidates stand out on the dual issues of flooding and development. Incumbent Larry White told local media recently he would seek better infrastructure for the city as well as working with developers about where and how much to build and limiting the effects of runoff from new developments onto existing properties.

Candidate Alex Hyman said smart development helps everyone. As a member of Conway’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Commission over the last eight years, Hyman has first-hand experience on issues of development around the city. He understands development is going to continue but it must be planned to complement what is already in place around the city.

Hyman has exhibited considerable knowledge and thought about the watershed in which Conway is located and some of the challenges and possible solutions to how flooding of recent years can be better managed.

Two things are certain, development is not going to be stopped, as candidate Barb Eisenhardt appears to be advocating, and riding on the backs of the Horry County Stormwater Department (Gilland), the Army Corps of Engineers and/or the South Carolina Department of Transportation (Anderson and Alford) to find flooding solutions are not the answer. Jordan advocates finding another way across the Waccamaw River as a solution to the traffic congestion experienced in last year’s flooding.

On a separate issue, Hyman advocates a two tier approach to improving the business opportunities in the city. He said the city should go to existing businesses with the question ‘what can council do to help you.’ For new businesses looking to relocate, Hyman would ask ‘what will you add to our business community.’

Read more ›

Horry County’s Flawed I-73 Agreement

January 28, 2019 4:50 AM
Horry County’s Flawed I-73 Agreement

The Financial Participation Agreement between Horry County and the South Carolina Department of Transportation, approved by Horry County Council November 28, 2018, appears to have many flaws not discussed before a resolution was passed allowing Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge to sign the agreement.

Generally the agreement provides that Horry County will provide up to $25 million per year from Hospitality Fee revenues to fund the construction of I-73 within Horry County (the Project) and SCDOT will oversee the project from design through construction.

The written agreement states, “SCDOT shall provide an Annual Work Plan to the county on the activities proposed by March 31 that the county shall approve prior to June 30 before commencing work in the succeeding fiscal year.”

I find the use of the word “shall” interesting here in that it means a strong assertion or intention of something happening. Are we to take it to mean the county intends to approve the work plan prior to each June 30th? Does this mean county council really has much of a choice in the decision?

At least a half dozen times during the over one hour discussion about the project and the agreement county council members were told by then council chairman Mark Lazarus and/or county staff members, predominantly administrator Chris Eldridge and attorney Arrigo Carotti, that no money could be spent on the project without prior approval from county council.

To support those statements, Carotti quoted to council the first sentence of Section III (D) of the agreement which reads, “SCDOT shall not enter into a construction contract without the County’s prior approval based on considerations that the contract provide a meaningful connection to the proposed I-73 corridor in part or in its entirety.”

What Carotti did not quote were the next two sentences of Section III (D) which read, “The County’s prior approval shall not be required to enter into contract agreements for improvements to SC-22, provided the cost thereof does not exceed the estimates provided in the Annual Work Plan. Nor shall the County’s prior approval be required for any right-of-way acquisition agreement or consultant agreement for work of the Project provided the cost thereof does not exceed the estimates provided in the Annual Work Plan.”

Read more ›

Flood Relief Monday Benefits Mike Roberts Family

November 18, 2018 6:44 AM
Flood Relief Monday Benefits Mike Roberts Family

Flood Relief Monday at The Warehouse in Conway, November 19th from 11 a.m. til 7 p.m., will benefit the family of Conway native Mike Roberts this week.

The event will be the second in a series of Flood Relief Monday events at The Warehouse established to help local citizens recover from uninsured damage from the recent Hurricane Florence flooding in the county.

Roberts and his family suffered approximately $150,000 in uninsured damages when the flooding from Hurricane Florence brought three feet of water into his riverfront home in Conway.

The family was able to save some possessions from the flooding but the home suffered damage to walls, floors and other areas and furnishings from the floodwaters. With the help of his neighbors and friends, Roberts has begun the lengthy process of tearing out sheetrock and other damaged structural elements and hauling the resulting waste away.

The family plans to restore the home and continue living in their Waccamaw Drive location.

Roberts is a lifelong Conway small business owner and has also been a candidate for political office in Horry County Council District 7. Known as being a spiritual individual, dedicated family man, strong supporter of his local community and ‘Man of his Word’, Roberts has been quick to help others in need through the years.

Monday’s event provides an opportunity for his friends and community to give back to Roberts in his time of need.

Spaghetti plates (eat in or take out) will be sold for $7 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. with all proceeds from the sales being donated to the benefiting family. In addition, from 5 p.m. til 7 p.m. each Monday, diners will be treated to donated live entertainment with local politicians donating their services as celebrity servers with all of their tips being donated to the benefiting family. Citizens can also make direct contributions to the cause. Corporate sponsors pay $100 each week for their sponsorship with all proceeds going to the family.

Read more ›

County Council Approves Buck Creek Development

October 3, 2018 8:19 AM
County Council Approves Buck Creek Development

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, Horry County Council passed third reading of a rezoning and development agreement that will allow nearly 1,300 homes to be built in the Buck Creek community.

The vote was 7-4 to approve the rezoning despite pleas from residents in nearby Arbor Glen to turn the development down.

The majority of council members who voted to approve the development rezoning got the cover they needed from county staff to attempt to justify their Yes vote.

The development meets county standards for stormwater management, which are based on 25 year flood projections for normal rainstorms, according to statements by staff. The standard of the 25 year flood is quite low, but meets state requirements.

There was much discussion that Hurricane Florence was a historic event, which is true. However, when taken into consideration with the flooding brought on in the state and local area by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999, we can say the flooding from Hurricane Florence was historic but should not have been a huge surprise.

These flooding events are becoming more common, but county officials are apparently satisfied that planning stormwater management for the 25 year flood is sufficient and anything beyond that can be attributed as God’s Will.

It was pointed out that the land for the specific development approved Tuesday did not flood from the effects of Hurricane Florence and one access road to the property remained open after the storm. However, no one really knows what will happen to the area and its access roads, or other areas and their access roads in the development pipeline, during similar storm events as those mentioned above when nature is replaced by the concrete and macadam associated with new sub-divisions.

Council member Paul Prince, in whose Council District 9 the new development will be built, proudly said he toured his district after the storm and the Longs community and the rest of the district fared well compared to other areas of the county.

Read more ›

Hurricane Gone, Floods Receding, Back to Development as Usual

October 1, 2018 4:34 AM
Hurricane Gone, Floods Receding, Back to Development as Usual

Horry County Council will consider third reading of a rezoning Tuesday night that would allow development of an anticipated 1,292 residential units plus some commercial space in the area of Old Buck Creek Rd. and Hwy 905 in rural Horry County.

The picture accompanying this story shows Buck Creek flooding Hwy 905 just south of this proposed development. A short distance downstream from the proposed development is the Aberdeen development that suffered considerable flooding that flowed over SC 9 closing that road for over one week. Several miles down Hwy 905 is the Polo Farms development that seriously flooded from the storm and suffers flooding during hard rainstorms.

The question must be asked, is this the time to approve a development of nearly 1300 homes to an area that is prone to flooding. Even if the property itself doesn’t flood after it is developed, do we really want 1300 new homeowners essentially cut off from the rest of the county when the next flood occurs.

And it’s not a question of if another flood of this type of magnitude will occur, but when. I can quickly think of three times in the last 19 years that SC 9 and Hwy 905 by Buck Creek have been cut off by floodwaters.

The county only developed a stormwater management plan after suffering the effects of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. It can be argued that county officials have been trying to catch up with controlling flooding and the effects of new development on various areas of the county ever since. Aberdeen, Polo Farms, Forestbrook and areas in Bucksport come quickly to mind.

Another consideration is the paucity of first responders in the area. The nearest fire station to this proposed development is an all-volunteer station with no career, full-time personnel attached. This area is part of the North Police Precinct, which is understaffed with a large area to patrol for those few officers available on each shift.

Read more ›