Golf course signs

A developer has contacted Horry County Council about converting at least part of these courses into single-family housing.

A pair of Carolina Forest golf courses could be converted into a housing development.

Horry County Council members recently confirmed that they have been approached by a developer interested in turning at least parts The Wizard and Man O’War courses into single-family homes. The courses sit near Waterford Plantation.

“That’s my district,” councilman Danny Hardee told the Carolina Forest Civic Association last month. “I represent y’all. And what you want, that’s what we’re going to do. It’s not my decision to put any homes in there. It doesn’t make any difference to me because I don’t live there. But y’all do.”

Hardee said his discussions with the developer are in the “very early stages” and he stressed that no homes would be built there until the widening of Carolina Forest Boulevard is finished. The widening began last month and construction is projected to wrap up by the spring of 2021. Hardee also said the developer is considering building a “cut-through” road that would turn right onto U.S. 501.

The Wizard and Man O’War are sister courses that were built in the mid-1990s.

As of last week, no plans had been filed for redeveloping the courses, said David Schwerd, the county’s director of planning and zoning. 

The developer could not be reached for comment.

The possibility of additional residential development in Carolina Forest highlights residents’ concerns about infrastructure not keeping up with growth.

“We have already told them, ‘We don’t want any more housing,’” said Carole vanSickler, president of the civic association. “If y’all are not happy hearing that, when it comes up, I’m expecting each and every one of you to be at the planning commission meeting and raise heck.”

During their talk with the civic association, county officials agreed that public opinion plays a role in whether projects are approved. They said the council has rejected rezoning requests primarily because of opposition from neighbors.

Councilman Dennis DiSabato, whose district includes Carolina Forest, pointed out that last year the council rejected a rezoning request for a development of nearly 1,500 homes off S.C. 90. However, he also said that in some cases a developer can build on a property without obtaining a rezoning. 

“Just because something is being used as a golf course now doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have zoning for other intended purposes,” he said, adding that rezoning often makes projects more compatible with the surrounding community than what the existing zoning allows. “If we say no to that, they may still very well go in there and build homes.”

If a landowner seeks a rezoning for a development, that process doesn’t happen behind closed doors.

The request goes before the planning commission for a recommendation, then it goes to county council’s infrastructure and regulation and committee. That committee also makes a recommendation, which the full council weighs before deciding whether to approve the change.

At every step in the process, there’s an opportunity for residents to give their input to these public bodies.

“All these processes are public,” council chairman Johnny Gardner said. “There is no hidden meeting. We’re not going to approve anything in secret. It’s all going to be transparent.”

More than two dozen Grand Strand golf courses have closed since 2004. Although not all of them have been redeveloped, the increased demand for housing has spurred interest from developers.

Earlier this year, a nine-hole section of River Oaks Golf Plantation was rezoned to accommodate more housing.  

During the planning commission’s discussion on River Oaks, Felix Pitts, an engineer representing the landowner, told the commission that population growth is driving efforts to redevelop golf courses. 

“They’re going to start going away,” he said.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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