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Murrells Inlet: Restrictions on boat landing parking draw criticism
By Jim Hilley
An ordinance that would restrict parking at the Murrells Inlet Boat Landing to vehicles towing trailers was put on hold this week.
The landing was deeded to the county by the state Department of Natural Resources in March 2017. The parking area is marked for vehicles towing boat trailers, but is being used by vehicles without trailers and commercial vendors as well, according to a staff report presented to County Council.
Such activities are detrimental to citizens accessing the landing with boat trailers, the report said.
Council passed the ordinance by title only last month, a process that doesn’t include discussion. It was deferred this week.
Bill Hills, a candidate for Council District 1, criticized the council for placing the ordinance on its agenda without holding hearings or consulting Murrells Inlet residents.
“I have yet to find one resident who was aware of this ordinance,” Hills said. “Everyone agrees we have a problem. Everyone agrees this ordinance is not the answer to the problem.”
Council Member John Thomas, the District 1 incumbent, said the ordinance was prepared by county staff in response to complaints from marina owners. They claimed that charter boats are operating from the public landing and their customers are parking at the lot on the west side of Business 17.
“I cannot support that solution to the problem,” Thomas said of the ordinance. “There are legitimate reasons for cars to be in the parking lot without trailers,” he said.
The ordinance would vest enforcement to the Georgetown County Sheriffs Office.
Hills said the ordinance would be unenforceable and would lead to people parking vehicles in church and restaurant parking lots. He said he also is concerned by the council’s proposal to curtail commercial use of the available public parking.
“How are officers going to decide who’s commercial and who’s not,” Hills said. “Is the inlet overcrowded with fishing guides? Everyone but the fishing guides say it is.”
Hills also questioned how the ordinance would affect users of the ramp such as kayakers who do not need a trailer to haul their watercraft.
Thomas said the county Parks and Recreation department needs to do a better job of marking and maintaining the lot.
“The lot has deteriorated and bumpers are missing,” he said.
Thomas said he has been told the Murrells Inlet Landing is one of the most utilized in the state.
“When the fish are running it is heavily used,” Thomas said.
Parks and Recreation programs also drew criticism from Sheldon Butts, a Georgetown City Council member, who said that recreational opportunities are lacking for residents in the city’s west end. Butts told the County Council city residents are willing to be part of the solution, but aren’t getting any help.
West end residents have raised the issue with council at several meetings and pledge to continue until something is done.
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