The Conway City Council and its staff say they’ve heard criticism about the design of some of Conway’s newer subdivisions, so they want to know what it is that their citizens like and don’t like.

To that end, they’ve come up with a residential survey that they’re asking all Conwayites to take. The computer survey, that includes 93 pictures taken in various Conway neighborhoods, comes with a score sheet with 93 numbers, each with corresponding numbers one to five.

The survey takes about 11 or 12 minutes to complete, with each picture and its survey number showing for a total of about seven seconds.

City administrator Adam Emrick told council about the survey at its meeting Monday night, saying they’re looking for people’s first instinct about the pictures, not a full evaluation.

People are asked to rate each house from one to five, with five being the best.

He believes the results of the survey will be really instructive for staffers as they decide on new design guidelines for Conway’s neighborhoods.

City planner Mary Catherine Hyman, along with Emrick and Conway’s public works director Kevin Chestnut, rode around town taking pictures of a variety of styles of homes.

Hyman said seeing what Conwayites think might give them some hints about what people like. For instance, do they want wider or narrower street? Do they like garages pushed farther back from the street?

Hyman said Tuesday that she’d like a lot of results from the survey, but would be fairly happy with about 100. As of midday yesterday, the video had recorded 198 views.

“I think it will be very helpful because, like I’ve said, we’ve had concerns over the quality of the subdivisions…I think this will help guide what’s broken in the ordinance and what’s working and help us revise accordingly,” Hyman said.

They plan to give people three weeks to view the survey, but it’s possible they’ll extend the time if they don’t think they’ve gotten enough results.

Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy said Tuesday that she had not had time to take the survey, but she certainly plans to.

She, too, believes the survey will be helpful and says she participated in a similar rating system when the city turned to the public to see what activities they wanted in the old Whittemore Elementary School building that the city plans to turn into a community center.

She says council has been debating how deep front and backyards should be, but this survey will take them farther than just that one issue.

Each council member will take the survey and their ratings will be evaluated as a group, apart from the citizenry.

“We’ll certainly see what council’s vision is pretty quickly…The results are going to be available almost instantaneously,” she said.

She wants to see large numbers of survey ratings, saying there are about 20,000 people in Conway and about half of them are over the age of 18, offering a large pool to draw from.

“It will give us another look at how to do new development in the future,” she said.

Councilwoman Jean Timbes is more skeptical about the survey.

As of Tuesday, Timbes said she, too, had not had time to take the survey.

She says this “test” is subjective and she’d like to see it more objective. She’d like to see it based on more specifics and not just whether people like a house or not.

“You know me, I teach math. I like concrete details,” she said.

She says if someone gives a home a two and she gives it a two, she won’t know if they mean the same thing. She equates it to an ink blot test when someone thinks a blot looks like a cloud, somebody else sees a monkey and still another one sees a camel.

“I’m not going to be able to know what the answers stand for, but that’s just my thinking,” she said.

Later saying, “I’m not big on surveys.”

The survey can be found at myhorrynews.com and at cityofconway.com. Scroll down until you see “Latest News” and straight over to the right of that, “Upcoming Events”. Between the two is a box that says, “See All News.” Click on that. A list of things will come up. The second listing says “City of Conway Visual Preference Survey”. Click on that and you’re there.

Anyone who doesn’t have access to a computer can go to the planning office at 206 Laurel St. to complete the survey.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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