Planning commission denies request that would pave way for apartment complex on Pawleys Island

VIDEO: Residents upset with plan to build 182-unit apartment complex on Pawleys Island

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Georgetown County Planning Commission has denied a request to make zoning changes that would pave the way for the development of a 182-unit apartment complex.

The proposal came from the Alliance for Economic Development for Georgetown County with Graycliff Capital Partners, LLC as the developer.

The effort was stifled by strong outcry from community members with concerns about high density development on the Waccamaw Neck along Petigru Drive.

The property the apartment complex would have been built on is part of the Pawleys Business Commons Planned Development that was originally approved back in 2008. The land was intended to be used for business to help secure job growth, not housing.

“The Waccamaw Neck is a narrow peninsula, 22 miles long by about 3 miles wide with very limited traffic capabilities to handle large crowds like this,” said Gary Weinreich, a director with Preserve Murrells Inlet. “High density housing is not something we have traditionally had.”

Chief planner for Georgetown County, Holly Richardson, says the area is not currently zoned for high density.

“We define high density as 6 to 16 units per acre,” Richardson said. “At a net density, this [proposed development] sits at between 15 and 16. So it’s there. It’s definitely high density.”

The county is currently redoing its future land use element in the comprehensive plan. County officials compiled the top concerns from people living in the area and the number one comment was to keep low density areas from becoming high density ones.

“It would have been a major change that goes against the land use plan and all of the input from the community,” Weinreich said.

Weinreich says there are legal concerns as well. In order to build housing in this area, the current development plans would have needed to be changed.

“The project, without question, increases density and requires a major modification to the Planned Development District,” Weinreich said. “The Planning Commission has two legal options. One is to deny the request. The other is to send it back to the Planning Staff and the County Attorney with clear instructions to not return it to the Planning Commission until all applicable legal requirements have been fully satisfied.”

Infrastructure is one of the biggest concerns from citizens.

Suzanne Sammut lives in the area and says flooding is a big problem, even with light to moderate rain. She says more development will only make it worse.

Richardson says the apartment complex plan was not required to submit a flood water plan because the proposal in front of the commission was for a zoning change and not a project approval.

“The developer has written a sort of narrative proposal. Which stormwater has looked at, but they haven’t submitted their detailed plan and those don’t come until after,” Richardson said. “This is a conceptual sketch plan type of approval for the rezoning purposes.”

The apartment proposal may be done for now, but the property is ripe for development and will likely generate interest from another developer in the near future.

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