Horry County officials will soon decide whether they should purchase land for a road project that would link Carolina Forest Boulevard with S.C. 31.
The first step in that process will happen Thursday when the Horry County Planning Commission discusses a request for an exemption to the county’s official map.
That map includes a proposed $47 million interchange connecting Revolutionary War Way, Augusta Plantation Drive and S.C. 31.
About 20 acres needed for the project lie in The Parks, a residential development that is under construction beside Carolina Forest Boulevard. The property owner, Forestar (USA) Real Estate Group, has asked the county for a map exemption to allow the land in the road’s path to be rezoned and developed.
If the county provides that exemption, Forestar could seek a rezoning that, if approved, could create 60 residential lots on the property, according to public records. The landowner cannot pursue the rezoning without the exemption.
But county staffers are recommending that the official map remain as it is. That would preserve a path for the road in case funding is ever allocated for the interchange.
RIDE III, the county’s road-building program, includes the widening of Carolina Forest Boulevard, a project that is expected to break ground next month.
“This however will not relieve the congestion at the commercial nodes on each end of Carolina Forest at the intersections with Hwy 501 and with River Oaks Drive,” senior planner Charles Suggs wrote in a memo to the planning commission. “This project will provide a much needed outlet in the middle of Carolina Forest avoiding those two very busy intersections.”
If county officials follow staff’s recommendation and reject the exemption request, that would require the government to purchase the land for the road, said David Schwerd, the county’s director of planning and zoning, via email.
“They will either need to enter into an agreement to acquire the property or institute condemnation proceedings to acquire the property,” Schwerd said. “Action to acquire may be by the governing body or other appropriate agency (i.e. SCDOT).”
The road project was included in the original master plan for Carolina Forest. During the rezoning for Berkshire Forest and Berkshire Village, county officials secured the right of way for the connector road.
County council anticipated this decision would arrive when they added the interchange to the official map in 2017.
The planning commission will discuss the map exemption at its 3 p.m. workshop Thursday and make a formal recommendation a week later at its regular meeting (June 6, 5:30 p.m.).
The engineering firm Thomas & Hutton will represent Forestar at the planning commission meetings. A representative for Thomas & Hutton could not be reached for comment.
Once the planning commission gives its recommendation, county council has 75 days to make a decision about buying the property.