County study won’t arrive before newest restaurant
A proposed study of parking along the Murrells Inlet waterfront will have to wait until Georgetown County planners complete an update of the future land-use plan, or even longer if the county decides to outsource the work.
Such studies “are a little more complicated than I thought,” Boyd Johnson, the county planning director said.
Earlier this year, he proposed a change to the county’s landscape requirements that would allow new parking lots along Business 17 to put more plants around the perimeter rather than having one landscaped island for every 10 spaces within the lots. Johnson said he came up with the idea after meeting with Sandeep Patel, owner of the Wicked Tuna restaurant.
Patel is seeking permits to build a new facility, the Murrells Inlet Rooftop Restaurant, on the waterfront between the Wicked Tuna and the Claw House. The site is now a parking lot, but Patel will tear down the Crooked Floor Tavern on the west side of Business 17 and use it and an adjacent lot for parking.
Johnson said removing the landscaped parking islands would create a few more parking spaces, but would not reduce the total amount of landscaping required.
The Planning Commission rejected the idea until a parking study of the area can be completed. County Council concurred.
The county requires one on-site parking space for every 100 square feet of restaurant space and one for every 150 square feet of outdoor seating space. It also has provisions for shared parking and off-site parking to meet those requirements.
A parking study could also consider the season and time of day, Johnson said. That is done in other places. “It didn’t cross my mind,” he said.
“What is required for what is already built?” commission member Sandra Bundy, an inlet resident, asked. “That is the meat of your study.”
She suggested that community meetings that will be held as part of the land-use plan revision could help get input on the parking situation. The revision is already behind schedule. Johnson said the meetings should start by the end of the summer.
“There are a lot of ways we can work with the community,” Bundy said. It would also help the commission decide if the landscaped parking islands should be changed, “which is where this all started,” she added.
Actually, Johnson said, “I don’t think our landscape requirements for the whole county are enough.” That’s evident along Highway 17, he said.
In Murrells Inlet, “all you see is parking lots,” Elizabeth Krauss, who chairs the commission, said.
“That’s because they’re old parking lots,” Bundy said.
Krauss suggested the county get an estimate from Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments for conducting the parking study. The council staff is already doing work on the land-use plan.
But Krauss noted that if the council does the work, it may have to wait until the next budget cycle.