The County Debate over Unrestricted Rezoning

September 30, 2019 5:24 AMViews: 12496

By Paul Gable

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.

Flood damage and destruction of properties never previously threatened has occurred in two of the last four hurricane seasons including this one which is not yet complete. If citizens have learned anything, it is that county storm water management is seriously lacking.

How can one seriously argue with citizens groups demanding county officials address storm water and other infrastructure and public safety issues when considering rezoning requests?

Development is not going to stop in Horry County. Suggesting that stopping development is a goal of citizens or groups speaking out about problems associated with development is disingenuous. However, encouraging good planning for responsible new development by county officials is a fair demand by those already here.

Aren’t current residents entitled to protect their property rights also? Or is the attitude in the development industry and its apologists that these citizens have already invested in property and no new dollars will be coming from them, therefore their concerns don’t matter?

Apparently the writer felt entitled to protect her back yard when she spoke during public input at the November 13, 2018 meeting of county council.

Speaking of development in the Highway 90 corridor in which she lives, the writer said, “When the roads flood, hundreds and soon thousands of residents will be cut off from basic and emergency services. Council can expect this chamber to fill up again with angry residents and I will be one of them when the time comes…”

(Ms. Hudson’s entire speech can be viewed on council archived video of the November 13, 2018 county council meeting on the horrycounty.org website beginning at eight minutes and twenty-three seconds into the video.)

Five council members are up for reelection next year. Their votes on rezoning issues will be watched closely by citizens in their districts concerned with out of control development. These voters are not being used by environmentalists to “threaten office holders with eviction at the next election” as Ms. Hudson suggests. They are, in fact, genuinely concerned about the potential effects of new development on their properties and life style.

Common ground between the desire for unrestricted development by the development industry and responsible development by those residents concerned for their quality of life should be the goal of any responsible council member who wishes to continue in office.

 

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