Clear Pond

Some Clear Pond residents are upset about plans for new apartment buildings in their Carolina Forest neighborhood.

With more homes heading to the Clear Pond community, residents worry about a lack of infrastructure. 

Developers are planning on constructing 11 buildings that will hold multi-family units, with rentals of one- or two- or three-bedroom apartments being offered.

The subdivision sits off Gardner Lacy Road in Carolina Forest. Gardner Lacy is the only access to and from the neighborhood.

Residents voiced their anxieties at a standing room only meeting Saturday afternoon in the neighborhood’s amenity center.

Suggestions were made and ideas were proposed. Some residents asked that the new development become its own separate community. Others wanted a different access road built. Many pleaded with county leaders to step in and either halt the incoming construction or make the developers change their plans.

Despite the outcry, Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught told the residents the planned development was a “done deal,” one county leaders approved in 2003. At that time, the developers had plans to construct about 1,300 multi-family units and at least 800 single-family homes.

Last year, the developers told officials their plans were to build over 1,000 single-family homes and reduce the amount of multi-family units to about 750, Vaught said.

The multi-family units will be built in three phases, each phase consisting of building about 250 units.

“They’re permitted to do it,” Vaught said.

The councilman said the developers took the proper measures.

They were responsible for making Gardner Lacy four lanes from Postal Way to the community, which was in the development agreement.

Developers also made sure to include necessary drainage requirements, following the county’s stormwater regulations.

Robert Kellett relocated his family to Clear Pond from Greenville two years ago.

Kellett, who lives on White Wing Circle, is concerned with the additional traffic the new homes could generate.

He worries about renters being less invested in the neighborhood than property owners. Kellett noted that some renters who evacuated for Hurricane Florence left items in their yards, forcing neighbors to secure their belongings.

“You put one-bedroom and two-bedroom rentals in this neighborhood, you’re going to have college kids here. I’ve got young kids,” he said. “Most places here you either have retired folks or young families.

“They’re looking for a slower type of lifestyle and for more normalcy day in and day out,” he said. “They want to be able to come home and walk their dogs or let the kids play on the sidewalks. Our concern is, as that (construction) happens, we’re not going to have that anymore.”

Residents are afraid there won’t be enough schools to handle an influx of young people in the community. They also worry about public safety needs and the impact of the project on property values.

Some fear the bald eagle habitats in the neighborhood could be intruded upon.

Vaught noted that public safety is being stretched thin because of the county’s large population.

The construction could further clog U.S. 501, residents argued, though Vaught reminded attendees the highway is set to be widened and have six lanes from S.C. 31 to the S.C. 544 interchange in the coming years as part of Horry County’s RIDE III road program.

Many residents said they weren’t given the proper notice of the incoming units. Vaught encouraged homebuyers to do their homework and research.

While he’s not sure if the county has the ability to force the developers to change their plans — unless the law is broken — Vaught said he will meet with an attorney to see if that’s on the table. He will also look at any other options that could be worked out.

Kellett is concerned about residents being cut off if Gardner Lacy Road was to be shut down and ease of access.

“If there’s a fire, these people are stuck here,” he said. “If there’s ever an accident you can’t get rescue vehicles back here.”

A meeting between the developers, Vaught, county planning and zoning officials and a panel of volunteer residents is in the works.

Kellett said he was pleased with how the meeting turned out and that Vaught listened to and spoke with the residents.

“I don’t think they’re going be able to stop it,” he said of the construction planned. “But they can make it more conducive to the neighborhood.

“I think that falls on the responsibility of the councilman, the builders and the developers to say, ‘Hey, look, we’re investing money in this community. We’re wanting to give people a nice place to live and call home and raise families,’” he said. “If they’re truly investing money in infrastructure and different things, then they need to be mindful of that when they're building these neighborhoods.”

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I'm a reporter for the Myrtle Beach Herald. Want something covered? Call me at 843-488-7258.

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