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More than two dozen people gathered last month to talk about an upcoming Horry County Planning Commission meeting. They discussed the proposed rezoning of a spit of land along Gardner Lacy Road. The rezoning would allow for 97 townhomes to be built on the property near Carolina Forest High School. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Hundreds of new houses, townhomes and a medical park could be coming to Carolina Forest.

Five rezoning requests have been submitted to Horry County Government for projects in the region. The housing developments represent more than 800 units. The county’s planning commission gave three of the projects favorable recommendations Thursday night, and two requests have been deferred until the commission’s April 1 meeting.

Once the commission makes a recommendation on a rezoning, the proposal goes to Horry County Council for a final decision.

Here’s a snapshot of each of the five projects:

Carolina Forest Sign

Carolina Forest is the fastest growing attendance area in Horry County, district officials say.

1. Postal Way development

In 2017, a developer pursued a rezoning for 615 homes between the Planet Fitness building and Canterbury Apartments. Despite a later reduction in the number of homes, a public backlash led to the planning commission recommending that county council disapprove the rezoning. The developer eventually abandoned that project.

The latest venture involves the same property owner and a 35-acre tract near the planned extension of Postal Way. Last month, Horry County Council voted to accept a donation of property from the landowner for the extension of Postal Way, which is part of the county’s RIDE III road-building program.

The land donation is separate from the latest rezoning request. The new plans call for the development of 167 townhomes, 10 duplex units and 141 homes, according to county records. The design also includes community gardens and increased open space. Unlike the last plan for this area, this proposal has received no pushback from area residents.

The commission was expected to vote on the project Thursday, but the applicant requested that the vote be delayed until next month's meeting.

2. New medical park

Tidelands Health on Thursday announced that it plans to build a medical park on 5 acres at the intersection of Revolutionary War Way and Carolina Forest Boulevard.

The 34,000-square-foot facility would hold physician offices and offer outpatient services, according to a news release. The property is close to Ten Oaks Middle School and across from the Waterbridge subdivision.

Originally set aside for a church, the site needs a rezoning to accommodate the medical park. During a planning commission workshop, a representative for the applicant said the plan is to build an oncology center there. But Tidelands spokeswoman Dawn Bryant said the healthcare provider is still finalizing the plans for the facility, including the specific services that would be offered.

“As our region’s largest healthcare provider and MUSC Health affiliate, Tidelands Health is committed to growing with our community,” Tidelands CEO Bruce Bailey said in the release. “We understand high-quality, conveniently located health care services are integral to quality of life, and we continue to reinvest in our region in alignment with our core purpose: Better health begins here.”

After the rezoning notice was publicized, some neighbors contacted the county. They were concerned about the possibility of a hospital locating on the property. County officials stressed that the site is too small to hold a hospital. They said the facility would have daytime business hours.

The medical park received a favorable recommendation from the planning commission on Thursday.

“It’s a good use for that corner,” said commissioner Pam Cecala, who represents the community.

Medical park coming to Carolina Forest

Tidelands Health plans to build a 34,000-square-foot medical facility at this site.

3. Townhomes face opposition

A developer’s plan to build 97 townhomes along Gardner Lacy Road faces opposition from some residents of nearby neighborhoods.

The applicant asked the planning commission to postpone making a recommendation on the rezoning request until he could meet with the neighbors, who are concerned about the impact of the project on traffic and flooding.

That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center.

While a rezoning is necessary to accommodate this development, about 60 types of businesses are already allowed on much the land without any vote of council.

For example, under the current zoning, about 10.5 acres of the site could be used for mini-warehouses, a gas station, a restaurant, a veterinary office or a bank.

That property could also be converted into townhomes, though the zoning would limit such a project to 31 units. The zoning for the remainder of the property allows for single-family homes on 10,000-square-foot lots.

The site sits just past Carolina Forest High School. Nearby neighborhoods include Waterford Plantation, Clear Pond and Southcreek.

4. New homes, roadwork

The largest tract being considered for rezoning is a 301-acre site near the intersection of S.C. 31 and U.S. 501. A zoning change would help clear the way for a developer to build 63 townhouses and 214 single-family homes there.

The back half of the property holds significant wetlands, and 80 units are planned for land in the 500-year floodplain (an area with a .2% chance of flooding in a given year) while 60 would fall in the 100-year floodplain (a 1% chance of flooding in a given year), according to county records.

Planning commissioner Pam Dawson expressed concern about flooding during this week’s meeting.

“I just don’t want to put anybody in harm’s way,” she said.

But both county staff and planning commissioners ultimately supported the project. They noted that most of this land did not see inundation during the flood from Hurricane Florence in 2018.

The developer also plans to improve some stormwater infrastructure to help a neighboring community and build a connection to Las Palmas Drive, the road that runs beside the Carolina Forest Krispy Kreme across U.S. 501 from the Tanger Outlets.

“Personally, I think it does a lot of good things,” said Steven Neeves, the planning commission chairman.

5. More development on S.C. 90

Nearly 45 acres of a tract on Old Highway 90 were recently rezoned to allow for 69 single-family lots. The developer is now asking the county to rezone the remaining land (about 55 acres) to clear the way for another 144 lots.

The project would include community gardens, sidewalks and open space. Felix Pitts with G3 Engineering, the firm representing the property owner, pointed out that the landowner has paid an impact fee for the extension of water and sewer service to the site, and that infrastructure should be finished by the fall.

Some residents in the S.C. 90 corridor worry about the rapid growth in that area, especially considering the main thoroughfare is a two-lane road.

“I’ve lived out here since 1984, and I can tell you that right now the builders are doing everything they can to get these houses built just as fast as they can,” said neighbor Amelia Wood. “In the last three or four years, the transformation out here in this neighborhood has been just phenomenal. The traffic is a lot heavier.”

Pitts noted that a traffic study would be required for the project.

“This is not high-density residential [development],” he said. “This is 10,000-square-foot lots and it’s supported by the comprehensive plan.”

The fears about S.C. 90 resonated with commissioner Jody Prince, who previously served on county council. 

“Highway 90 is always of great concern to me,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do here. But when I look at a development like this that’s 10,000 square feet [lots]. I mean, it’s basic. … We’re not doing crazy development.”

Staff and planning commission recommended that council approve the rezoning.

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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