Growth is good.
Maybe too much growth in a short period of time can actually be both a blessing and curse.
Certainly, rapid growth in population leads to more homes, more business and a larger tax base.
It also means more traffic congestion, the need for more schools and greater demands on government.
When growth has a detrimental impact on communities, the time has arrived to take a harder look at how to regulate it.
Take the odd case of stormwater management.
This is an area of city and county government that doesn’t stay in the forefront of most people’s minds. At least, it takes a back seat until flood waters threaten to enter their homes and businesses.
Currently, Horry County Council is struggling with the problem of draining water from a county that is basically flat as a pancake.
Sure, there are a few bits of high ground in Horry County. But when viewed from the air, most of Horry County has the terrain of a large plateau.
For many years, water from storms was more of a nuisance than a problem. After a heavy downpour, water pooled, but then flowed naturally into existing drainage systems.
That’s no longer the case.
Thousands of acres once considered forest have been leveled to make way for vast housing subdivisions. Many more acres have been covered with asphalt to provide parking spaces for businesses.
All the water that used to flow away naturally now has fewer places to go.
The county’s stormwater department says it simply does not have adequate funding to keep up with growth taking place here. It has asked county council for additional money.
Council is reluctant to raise existing stormwater fees and has directed staff to take a harder look at using impact fees to help with the problem.
Unfortunately state law limits how impact fees can be used. Fees can only pay for building or capital projects (facilities, infrastructure) and cannot be used for operations.
Horry County Councilman Harold Worley said recently that the county’s stormwater system is being taxed by new development and he think that is where fees from impact fees should come, not from the people already living here.
I think he makes a good point.
The flood of new residents and businesses locating in Horry County puts a tremendous strain on existing infrastructure such as roads, schools and utilities. The cost of upgrading these things should be borne by those putting additional demands on the systems.
I admire council’s defiance toward state laws that limit how impact fees can be used. I don’t see how the county can simply ignore the law as some on council have suggested
Instead, I would like to see the county become innovative about using impact fees. It can be done.