Post Tagged with: "rezoning"

The County Debate over Unrestricted Rezoning

September 30, 2019 5:24 AM
The County Debate over Unrestricted Rezoning

An interesting dynamic has recently emerged in the debate over unrestricted rezoning and development within the unincorporated areas of Horry County.

The development industry is moving fast forward with an agenda designed to characterize anyone opposed to its desires to do whatever it wants, wherever it wants, whenever it wants, with respect to rezoning and development in the county, as disrupting the local economy and costing jobs.

Recent presentations during public input at county council meetings by business owners in the development industry are one indication of this.

Another is a recent article posted in a local blog (no, not this one). A prominent display of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) symbols included with the article attempted to set the tone of a faulty argument.

The article attempts to paint groups opposing any rezoning in the county as Democrats and/or environmentalists “stoking people’s fears to threaten office holders with eviction at the next election in order to finally advance environmentalism’s long-held goals of locking up private property from any future use at all.”

Prominently mentioned as such groups were the Coastal Conservation League, Horry County Rising, Highway 90 Corridor Concerns and Rosewood Strong. There are those in the development industry with personal grudges against some of these groups. That is not a good reason to mischaracterize their goals.

The writer, Audrey Hudson, may draw any conclusions she wishes, however flawed. But, even a cursory look at the mix of citizens in the groups opposing unrestricted rezonings in the county will quickly observe a large percentage in the mix are Republicans who voted for Donald Trump.

This issue isn’t about Democrats and environmentalists opposing “the GOP’s commitment to preserving the free market and protecting private property rights” as the writer suggests. It is merely about people wanting county elected officials to take steps to properly exercise the core functions of any government in order to minimize flooding and plan for infrastructure and public safety needs at least in concert with new rezoning approvals.

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I-73, Indian Wells Controversies Highlight Council Agenda

June 17, 2019 7:11 AM
I-73, Indian Wells Controversies Highlight Council Agenda

The agenda for Tuesday night’s regular meeting of Horry County Council has only two items of consequence on it.

Under Old and New Business, council will discuss the Financial Participation Agreement with the South Carolina Department of Transportation for the I-73 project.

The agreement has been in effect since December 2018 when it was signed by former administrator Chris Eldridge for the county after receiving council approval to do so. However, the real date for its beginning is the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2019.

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.”

SCDOT provided a work plan for next fiscal year which allots $6 million for engineering services and $6.5 million for right of way acquisition. Council has yet to act on that work plan, but there is NO money in the upcoming budget to pay for it.

The plan was for Horry County to provide up to $25 million per year from 1.5% Hospitality Fee revenues collected countywide as funding. Since March 2019, the county has been sued by the cities over hospitality fee collections and there is no guarantee at this time how much, if any, of the countywide 1.5% fee revenue will be available to the county in the next or ensuing fiscal years.

However, Section V of the agreement, “Payments by the County”, states,  “The County shall maintain an account balance which shall be sufficient to cover the Project expenses for the relevant fiscal year including annual payments to the consultants, contractors or SCDOT…”

In addition, Section III D of the agreement states, “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.”

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Indian Wells Rezoning on Tonight’s County Council Agenda – Updated

June 4, 2019 6:12 AM
Indian Wells Rezoning on Tonight’s County Council Agenda – Updated

(above picture Dan Liu, left, and Nick Dou)

UPDATE

Once again first reading of the rezoning ordinance was deferred. 

The same scenario played out as before – opponents of the rezoning showed up in force dressed in their now famous red shirts. Once again council member Tyler Servant blinked and asked for another deferral.

It appears there is no desire on Servant’s part to vote against the rezoning or else it would already been voted down. Council members will generally follow the will of the member in whose district the rezoning is located.

Evidently the tactic is to attempt to wait out the ‘red shirts’ until their opposition wanes. However, that may not be the end result here.

There is a determined opposition and the current owner, Founders Group International, apparently needs the property to be rezoned to clinch its sale. It is not believed that the property can be profitably developed with the residential zoning it has now.

First reading of an ordinance for a proposed rezoning of Indian Wells Golf Club is again on the Horry County Council agenda for tonight.

This is the fourth time the issue has been before council for first reading. It was initially defeated late last year. After some tinkering with the proposal, removing the commercial areas and adding more townhomes in an attempt to appease adjacent property owners, the issue has been deferred twice.

There is considerable opposition from owners in three sub-divisions, who thought they were buying golf course view property over the past 20 years only to discover this is not necessarily the case in Horry County.

All but a few of the golf courses in Horry County have underlying zoning that allows for development of the golf course into residences of some type.

Many of properties in the golf course communities surrounding those golf courses were sold on the basis of ‘fairway views’ or ‘proximity to the course’ of the homes, often with premiums charged for properties directly adjacent to the golf course.

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Indian Wells Rezoning Again Up for Consideration by County Council – UPDATE

May 6, 2019 8:36 AM
Indian Wells Rezoning Again Up for Consideration by County Council – UPDATE

UPDATE

Horry County Council unanimously voted to defer the first reading of rezoning request for Indian Wells Golf Course until the June 6th regular council meeting. Council will request the Chinese owners of Founders Group International, Nick Dou and Dan Liu, to appear at that council meeting with their attorneys to answer questions about possible restrictions on the property with respect to the current litigation between Dou and Liu and, possibly, to address questions about Liu’s immigration status and Chinese legal problems.

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A third try at first reading approval for a rezoning of Indian Wells Golf Course will come before Horry County Council Tuesday night.

This time around, it appears commercial areas have been removed from the redevelopment plan with townhomes replacing commercial buildings.

This is all part of the game that is played throughout the county to basically give developers what they want while making it appear council is working in the interests of affected citizens.

One of the best kept secrets with respect to development is that virtually all of the golf courses in the county have underlying zoning that allows for future development. That house bought on a fairway in one of the many golf course communities in the area may not always look out on a fairway. In the case of Indian Wells, the fairway view may soon be replaced by townhomes.

The rezoning is being requested for reasons that apparently have to do with making the land more valuable to developers not for any benefit of the current homeowners in the surrounding community.

However, the Indian Wells rezoning has other interesting facets.

Indian Wells is one of the golf courses currently owned by Founders Group International with a mortgage in the amount of $4,769,496.00 payable to Founders majority owner Dan Liu.

Liu is a Chinese citizen in the U.S. on a work visa that appears to have expired in August 2018.

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Proposed Rezoning of Indian Wells Golf Club Raises Many Issues

April 30, 2019 7:22 AM
Proposed Rezoning of Indian Wells Golf Club Raises Many Issues

(pictured above, Dan Liu, left, and Nick Dou)

Horry County Council will again consider first reading of a request to rezone Indian Wells Golf Club for development at its regular meeting next week.

Council has already denied the request once and deferred a changed plan at its last regular council meeting.

Council member Tyler Servant, in whose council District 5 the course is located, has reportedly been working with three homeowner’s associations who will be impacted by the rezoning to get agreement from them for a development plan that has no commercial structures and only townhomes and single family homes.

But, Servant may be missing the forest while concentrating on just one tree. There are more issues at Indian Wells than which development plan can get approval from council.

Indian Wells is one of the golf courses owned by the Founders Group International, a collective of multiple LLC’s with 90% ownership by Chinese companies for which Dan Liu claims to act as exclusive U.S. agent and 10% ownership by Nick Dou, according to documents provided in a lawsuit with Dou as plaintiff and Liu as defendant. According to Liu’s deposition, he met Dou in 2012.

Dou and Liu are currently locked in a legal battle over allegations by Dou that Liu is attempting to strip assets from their corporate interests.

In the 2014-15 timeframe, Founders Group International acquired 22 golf courses, homes and other properties in the Grand Strand area for the total sum of approximately $135 million.

In a deposition for the ongoing lawsuit, Liu claimed the money used for the purchases was taken from his personal funds. However, the deposition included a description from Liu of his work history from the time he left university in 1997. Nothing in that history gave any indication from where Liu would have accumulated such an amount of money.

According to Liu’s statements in the deposition, he placed his personal funds in the above mentioned Chinese companies, with which he claims no association other than being the exclusive U.S. agent, in order to move the funds out of China.

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Tilly Swamp Rezoning – What Next

November 23, 2018 9:32 AM
Tilly Swamp Rezoning – What Next

The rezoning for the Bear properties in the Tilly Swamp area failed to get second reading approval of the rezoning ordinance at the regular November 13, 2018 meeting of Horry County Council, but the issue is not decided yet.

The rezoning failed by a 6-5 vote of council. After the vote, council immediately took a break. According to sources who spoke with Grand Strand Daily on the condition of anonymity, council member Paul Prince, one of the 6 ‘No’ votes, spoke with several council members from the ‘Yes’ side during the break.

When council reconvened, Prince announced he was “confused” during the rezoning vote and moved for reconsideration. After receiving a second to the motion, the five remaining ‘No’ voting council members walked from the dais and left the council chambers leaving only six council members in the meeting at that time.

Council chairman Mark Lazarus has a conflict of interest on the issue and recused himself from the vote which includes leaving the council chambers during any discussion and/or vote on the rezoning ordinance.

Six members of council is not a quorum for conducting business, therefore no reconsideration vote of the rezoning ordinance could be taken.

The main issues of concern with the rezoning are lack of sufficient infrastructure to support nearly 1,500 new homes in the Tilly Swamp area as well as lack of sufficient police, fire and EMS services in the location.

Those issues were addressed by spokespersons for the approximately 250 members of the public who were present in council chambers demonstrating opposition to the rezoning ordinance. Those issues will not go away in the short term.

A vote on an ordinance can be reconsidered before the minutes of the meeting at which the original vote took place are approved by council. Those minutes will not be considered for approval until the December 18, 2018 regular meeting of council.

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Recent Storm Events Raise Concerns Among Citizens About Proposed Development in Tilly Swamp

November 12, 2018 7:41 AM
Recent Storm Events Raise Concerns Among Citizens About Proposed Development in Tilly Swamp

The flooding from Hurricane Florence has Horry County residents questioning the thought process behind continued rezoning development approvals by Horry County Council without consideration of the overall impact they will have on quality of life.

The latest ‘hot button’ issue is a proposed rezoning in the Tilly Swamp area that would allow approximately 1,500 new homes to be built on what are collectively known as the Bear properties, an area that is already strained for resources.

A new 900 unit RV park and an approximately 110 unit new housing development are already in the process of being developed in the area.

Access to the proposed development will be on small two-lane roads, Old Reaves Ferry Road and Old Hwy 90, off of the current Hwy 90.  Current police, fire and EMS services appear to be insufficient for the introduction of over 1,600 new homes and 900 RV units in the area.

Stormwater is another issue. Hurricane Florence saw homes in the area suffer flooding for the first time in history while roads in the area have been closed due to flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the recent Hurricane Florence.

One lifetime local resident said the Bear properties are sandy and act like a sponge to draw water in during heavy rain events. He said there is no telling what new flooding may occur in the area if it is paved over with impervious surfaces.

The area is designated ‘Scenic and Conservation’ in the current Horry County Comprehensive Plan Envision 2025 and the proposed new comprehensive plan Imagine 2040. Counties are required by state law to update comprehensive plans every 10 years. Those plans are adopted by county council with a three reading ordinance.

Comprehensive plans are meant to be a planning tool for county goods and services needed, not something adopted to satisfy the state and be ignored until the next one is due.

Both the Horry County Planning staff and Horry County Planning Commission have recommended disapproving the proposed rezoning of the Bear properties. However, it is up for second reading and public review at the regular meeting of council tomorrow night.

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Proposed Tilly Swamp Rezoning Raises Questions

October 30, 2018 3:03 PM
Proposed Tilly Swamp Rezoning Raises Questions

A rezoning request in the Tilly Swamp community is raising questions about how Horry County officials approve development.

The rezoning request received first reading approval from Horry County Council at its last regular meeting before being sent to the Planning Commission and Infrastructure and Regulation Committee.

The request is from Bear Claw Associates, Bear Paw Associates and Bear Bone to allow for more houses to be built on two currently undeveloped lots owned by the named LLC’s. The request is to reduce lot size from SF 10 to SF 7 on previously rezoned land and to change zoning from Commercial Forest Agriculture (CFA) to SF 7 on land not included in the previous rezoning.

If the request is approved, approximately 1,500 new homes will be built in what is considered an environmentally sensitive area of Horry County, with the larger of the two lots adjacent on three sides to the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.

The lots in question are in an area designated as scenic and conservation in the current Horry County Comprehensive Plan Envision 2025 and the proposed new comprehensive plan Imagine 2040.

According to S.C. Secretary of State records, the registered agent for the LLC’s is Keith Hinson owner of Waccamaw Land and Timber with the 4705 Oleander Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC address of Waccamaw Land and Timber as the registered address of the LLC’s. Hinson is a longtime friend, associate and business partner of outgoing Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

According to longtime residents of the area near the requested rezoning, access to the proposed rezoning was cut off during the flooding from the recent Hurricane Florence. Additionally, the 2009 wildfire in the area burned 2,000 acres of the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve and threatened the land being considered for rezoning.

Fire and EMS services are listed as 3.99 miles away on the county Planning staff rezoning review sheet, but that appears to be inaccurate. The old Nixonville firehouse on Hwy 90 has always been a volunteer staffed unit with few, if any, volunteers left. Information provided to GSD said the building is currently used only for storage.

The closest fire stations for response to the proposed rezoning area now appear to be either Lees Landing or Wampee, both of which are approximately seven or more miles distant.

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