Post Tagged with: "Horry County Council"

SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County in Court This Month

November 1, 2016 7:25 AM
SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County in Court This Month

Skydive Myrtle Beach and Horry County are scheduled to face off in S.C. Court of Appeals November 3, 2016 for oral arguments in the case of Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County (2014-002491).

The basic question in this lawsuit is whether Horry County acted fraudulently in stopping Skydive Myrtle Beach from operating its business at Grand Strand Airport.

A separate court ruling from a federal Administrative Law Judge is expected to be issued on or before November 18, 2016 addressing the actions of the Federal Aviation Administration in issuing a 73 page ruling against Skydive Myrtle Beach on the basis of very sketchy information provided by Horry County Department of Airports.

The case built by Horry County Department of Airports to evict Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport has more holes than Swiss cheese.

After Skydive Myrtle Beach reported HCDA to the Federal Aviation Administration in February 2014 for discriminatory actions, Horry County officials began looking to cover their tracks.

HCDA began an incident reporting system that logged 112 alleged safety violations by Skydive Myrtle Beach over the next few months.

None of the 112 alleged safety incidents HCDA insists Skydive Myrtle Beach committed were ever properly reported to the FAA, according to FAA reporting requirements.

A recent Freedom of Information Act response from the FAA to SkyDive Myrtle Beach officials goes further. It says there are no records of the alleged safety violations in the FAA reporting system.

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Horry County Will Use Unrestricted Funds to Begin Repairs

October 17, 2016 6:41 AM
Horry County Will Use Unrestricted Funds to Begin Repairs

Horry County Council is expected to pass a resolution at its regular October 18, 2016 meeting to transfer money from its fiscal stabilization reserves balances to begin repairs to infrastructure damaged during Hurricane Matthew and the resultant flooding.

The money will come from unrestricted fund balances in the general fund, fire fund, stormwater fund and recreation fund. The unrestricted fund balances are from excess revenue or decreased spending in the prior fiscal year budget.

The use of these funds should allow the county to begin repairs without issuing new debt while awaiting federal disaster funds to become available to the county.

The extent of needed repairs will not become known until flooding recedes from the roads.

After the flooding experienced by the county from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the county instituted its current stormwater management plan and fees. However, we are learning again that water from a major storm event can’t really be managed.

Another issue that will no doubt arise as a result of Hurricane Matthew is what will happen with the hundreds of privately owned dirt roads that were recently removed from the county road maintenance plan.

During an emergency meeting last week, council approved the expenditure of approximately $600k to $1 million for the removal of storm debris from county owned rights of way.

These funds will be used for the removal of tree debris only for the benefit of residents in the unincorporated areas.

The county is maintaining a website to provide up to date information on road flooding throughout the county. Go to: http://www.horrycounty.org/gis/roadClosures/

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Parking Fees Discussed by City/County Council Members

September 30, 2016 6:28 AM
Parking Fees Discussed by City/County Council Members

The parking fee issue in Myrtle Beach seems to get a little more convoluted each week.

Earlier this week, a group called the Beach Coalition held a meeting at Longbeard’s in Carolina Forest to discuss issues surrounding the parking fees.

Attending the meeting were county council chairman Mark Lazarus and council members Bill Howard, Jimmy Washington and Johnny Vaught. Randal Wallace from Myrtle Beach City Council was also in attendance.

Members of the coalition group are unhappy with the rather cavalier manner in which Myrtle Beach city council treats issues such as parking fees.

With regard to the fee itself, Lazarus said there is going to be a parking fee for county residents when they park in beach access areas.

Additionally, Lazarus said the fee has to be reasonable for everybody and nobody is going to pay $300 (for a parking decal). The $300 figure was thrown out by Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes at a recent forum held with citizens.

Lazarus said the city and county would establish a “steering committee” to address the issue.

Wallace said something had to be done about parking in beach access in the Golden Mile and surrounding areas. He seemed to blame the fee on litter finding its way to the properties of Golden Mile residents.

Wallace said maybe the $10 per day parking fee now being charged to non-city residents wasn’t the best answer to the problem. He said he was sure city council wants to work with county council to address the parking fee issue.

Wallace admitted to the crowd that all parking fees collected in the city go to the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. For many years, the DRC has accomplished little in the way of redevelopment and virtually none in the city’s historic downtown in the area of City Hall, Five Points and adjacent areas.

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Community Violence Subcommittee Report Due Monday

September 23, 2016 5:36 AM
Community Violence Subcommittee Report Due Monday

By Paul Gable
The Horry County Community Violence Subcommittee is scheduled to make an interim report to the Horry County Public Safety Committee Monday on its initial findings regarding violent crimes and drug crimes in our local communities.

Seven months ago, community activists Bennie Swans, Jon Bonsignor and Tim McCray approached Myrtle Beach City Council for help in addressing violence in the community.

They were essentially turned away with Mayor John Rhodes giving his impression of a Donald Trump style ‘gotcha’, blaming the community for the problem, attacking the activists and claiming the focus on community violence would hurt tourism.

The three got a better reception at the Horry County Council level with the establishment of a Community Violence Subcommittee to investigate the problem and make a report including recommendations for ways to counter the rising problems of violent crime and drugs in the communities.

To date, in my opinion, the subcommittee has floundered by becoming involved in a comparison study of minutiae related to Horry County and counties in other states, but, at least, it is doing something.

In the interim, public awareness of an increasing epidemic of heroin use has spurred various citizens to ask both the Public Safety Committee and Horry County Council for help in fighting this problem.

While the heroin epidemic is a big problem, it is not the only one. Gangs, violent crime, lack of economic opportunity and the deaths of too many young people in the community all have their part in the overall picture.

The protocols that are established to combat violence in the community are essentially the same that can help combat the drug epidemic.

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International Drive Battle Continues – Update

September 13, 2016 7:09 AM
International Drive Battle Continues – Update

Update

The most important decision in the Administrative Law Court hearing yesterday was no decision.

Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson declined issuing a restraining order from the bench to stop construction on International Drive. Anderson said he needs more time to study the legal points argued and will issue a ruling later.

Meanwhile work to construct a road bed continues on International Drive.

Since work on the roadway began after Anderson ordered a state permit to be issued in August the issue of stopping that work became more complex because a federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was also issued.

Anderson said he doesn’t know if he, as a state judge, has the authority to issue a stay on a federal permit.

It’s a pretty sure bet he doesn’t and work will continue on the road bed for at least 30 more days as an appeal of Anderson’s August decision winds its way to the S.C. Court of Appeals.

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Not ready to give up their obstruction attempts, the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation are taking the battle to federal court with a new lawsuit filed against Horry County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Horry County Council Must Make Final Road Decisions

September 11, 2016 7:00 AM
Horry County Council Must Make Final Road Decisions

Social media has been alive with comments about the possibility of some dirt roads currently maintained by Horry County being removed from the county road maintenance system.

This stir among citizens began after Horry County Council voted to pass third reading of an ordinance last week establishing procedure to remove roads from the system not considered of “material benefit to the general public.”

The problem is not the apparent end result the ordinance seeks to accomplish. The problem rests with the procedure established to reach this end.

Along the way to final passage of the ordinance, Horry County Council was removed from the decision making process.

Initially, the procedure to remove roads read: “The Director of Public Works and the County Engineer will evaluate all roads, unless previously formally dedicated, within the county maintenance system to determine if these guidelines are met. Any road that does not meet the standards below shall be forwarded first to the Council member in whose district the road is located for input into the Director’s and County Engineer’s determination, then forwarded to county council for removal from the county maintenance system.”

By final reading of the ordinance, the language had changed to the following: “The Director of Public Works and the County Engineer will evaluate all roads, unless previously formally dedicated, within the county maintenance system to determine if these guidelines are met. Any road that does not meet the standards below shall be removed from the county maintenance system upon authority hereby given to the administrator.”

The guidelines referred to above are as follows:

1. Maintenance of road must be of material benefit to the general public.

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Horry County Council’s Cowardly Road Decision

September 8, 2016 5:06 AM
Horry County Council’s Cowardly Road Decision

Horry County Council took the coward’s way out from making potentially controversial decisions when it passed third reading of a county road maintenance ordinance Tuesday night.

In passing the ordinance, council shifted the decision making process to county staff on which roads currently maintained by the county should be removed from further maintenance with county tax dollars.

The excuse is the county is maintaining some roads that are actually driveways or serve no public benefit.

There’s no question taxpayer dollars should not be spent on private driveways or other roads that do not generally benefit county taxpayers.

But what exactly is a public benefit?

In the past, county council allowed private gates to restrict access to public roads in the Myrtle Trace sub-division. Those roads were paved and maintained by the county but restricted to use by sub-division residents only.

When that issue was exposed in the media, Horry County Attorney John Weaver attempted to justify that it was perfectly legal to restrict access on public roads.

Ultimately, Myrtle Trace residents agreed to remove the roads from the county system and maintain them privately. But, that decision only came after the roads were repaved with county tax dollars one more time.

Council member Al Allen was correct in his criticism of county council being taken out of the decision to remove roads from county maintenance.

It takes a majority vote of county council to accept roads into the county road maintenance system. Why should it take a decision of only a few members of staff to remove roads from that same system?

Allen said the idea behind county staff making the determination of which roads to remove from the county road maintenance system was to take the politics out of the decision.

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Guns and Where to Fire Them

August 24, 2016 5:04 PM
Guns and Where to Fire Them

Where guns can be fired is a question Horry County Council will struggle with over the next several months.

Infrastructure and Regulation Committee Chairman Johnny Vaught told a group of concerned citizens from the Hillsborough sub-division Tuesday that the county would not be locating a public firing range on Horry County Solid Waste Authority property near their development.

This announcement ended months of concern for those citizens that their peaceful community would be disrupted with the sound of weapons being fired nearby.

Vaught said the county would continue to look for a suitable piece of property in the more rural sections of the county in which to possibly locate a firing range.

Whether the county should get into the firing range business at all is a legitimate question being asked by citizens throughout the county. There are several privately owned firing ranges already in the county and there is strong feeling among some citizens that government should not compete with private business.

The Horry County Public Safety Committee discussed a different gun problem the day before. There is increasing concern among the county’s many sub-divisions of residents taking target practice on their property even though they are in close proximity to neighboring homes.

Horry County Council member Paul Prince said something should be done to prohibit such activity in sub-divisions where the houses are close together.

It’s been slightly over four years since Horry County Council decided not to vote on an ordinance that would restrict gun usage on private property in close proximity to other residences.

At that time, the ‘Duck Dynasty crowd’, in full camouflage, packed council chambers to protest any restriction on their 2nd Amendment rights with respect to where they could fire their guns in the unincorporated areas of the county.

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International Drive Construction Begins

August 22, 2016 1:23 PM
International Drive Construction Begins

(Pictured above Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught (left) and Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.)

After a series of legal delays orchestrated by the Coastal Conservation League and its allies, Horry County is moving forward on constructing the road bed on International Drive.

According to sources familiar with the court proceedings, a SC District Court judge ordered the permits issued after Horry County won the latest round in court.

Now, with the SCDHEC water quality and US Army Corps of Engineers wetland fill permits in hand, county officials hope to have the road bed ready for emergency vehicles within 60 days.

Further court challenges from CCL could be forthcoming. But, for the present, work on International Drive is moving forward.

The entire project will not be completed for approximately 12 months. Requests for Proposals from contractors desiring to bid on the project are expected to be advertised in October.

Meanwhile Horry County employees from the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Division are completing preliminary work such as right of way clearing and getting the road bed up to standards that can handle emergency vehicles. This is expected to be accomplished over the next 60 days.

The picture accompanying this post shows Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught and Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus standing in front of a bulldozer with a picture of Vaught’s late uncle, Lt. Gen. James B. Vaught, on the blade.

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More Legal Problems for Horry County Police Department

August 2, 2016 6:45 AM
More Legal Problems for Horry County Police Department

A recent lawsuit filed against the Horry County Police Department and individual officers highlights the systemic problems within the department.

While there have been more sensational headlines of sexual harassment of victims by HCPD detectives and a general breakdown within the entire detective division, this lawsuit demonstrates the attitude that is at the heart of the problems in the department.

The case is Brian E. Little v. Horry County Police Department et al. Case number 2016CP2604670.

In the pleadings, Little, the plaintiff, claims he had a building and a recreational vehicle vandalized by neighborhood juveniles.

In filing a report about the damage to HCPD officers, Little provided the officers with photographs from a security system on his property.

According to the pleadings:

HCPD officers did nothing.

Little, then, approached the mother of one of the juveniles and obtained a signed statement from the juvenile admitting to the damage, which he provided to police.

Again, nothing was done by HCPD.

Approximately two months later, Little’s property was vandalized again and, again, HCPD did what it does best – nothing.

Ultimately, Little began passing out circulars in his area about the vandalism to assist a neighborhood watch program. While he was passing out the circulars, little was approached by HCPD officers telling him he can’t pass out his circulars. Little complained to the officers that HCPD was doing nothing and, ultimately, they arrested Little for harassment.

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