The Student Voice of Coastal Carolina University



Horry County Council defers local zoning project

Citizens express concerns over proposed new Conway
Ryleigh Kelley
Chairman Johnny Gardner turns to Clerk of Council Ashley Carroll.

The Horry County Council voted unanimously to defer the approval to build a new Conway Medical Center facility at their meeting on Feb. 20.


If approved, a new hospital facility would be built across 353 1/4 acres of land in Dogwood Neck Township.


District 3 Councilman Dennis DiSabato said the subject was deferred to possibly negotiate an exclusive deal with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.


Environmental groups took the stand to voice concerns for the project’s impact on the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve, where it conducts prescribed burns.


Becky Ryon, the North Coast Office director of the Coastal Conservation League, was one of the leaders in opposition to the new medical center. She said if it were to be approved, the prescribed burns would be limited in the preserve.


Prescribed burns are a routine wildfire management tool used to reduce the amount of flammable material and promote a healthy habitat for fire-dependent plants.


“Another benefit of the regular prescribed burns at Lewis Ocean Bay or at the mitigation bank is the reduced risk of wildfire,” Ryon said.


“We’ve had two of the state’s largest wildfires in the area, in this area, of what was once known as the Buist Tract back in 1976.”


Cara Schildknecht, the Waccamaw Riverkeeper of the Winyah Rivers Alliance, expressed concern for how the project would affect the flood mitigation for the surrounding wetlands.


She said the wetlands are important to the community because they act like a sponge for pollution, as well as water and provide flood protection. The piece of the land the council proposed to build on is 70% wetlands.


During public remarks, Amelia Wood, who has lived on U.S. Route 90 for 40 years, asked the council questions regarding the future of the project.


“It’s not an easy piece of land to build on and most prudent buyers now are choosing higher ground to build on,” Wood said.


The council will meet again about the project on Aug. 13.

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