Wetlands issues delay council vote on creekfront development – Coastal Observer


Wetlands issues delay council vote on creekfront development

The project planners say the development won’t impact wetlands on the site.

A zoning change to allow a 27-lot subdivision between Pawleys Creek and Highway 17 was put on hold by Georgetown County Council this week, raising concern that developers will create a development with more lots under the current zoning.

Council Member Bob Anderson, who moved to defer approval of the change, said he doesn’t think that will happen because of wetlands on the property.

“He’s going to have to develop it on terms that are suitable to the county,” Anderson said.

The deferral will allow him time to talk with the developers and their engineers, he added.

The project, called Magic Oaks, has the support of the citizens group Keep It Green because it would limit the number of dwellings on the 5 acres of the 19-acre tract that are now zoned “general residential.” 

The developers, RCB Land Holdings of Conway, want to change the zoning to a “flexible design district.” That will allow lots on 3 acres that are zoned “general commercial” to have smaller street setbacks. The remainder of the property is salt marsh.

The reduced setbacks will keep the proposed houses farther away from the businesses at the Hammock Shops to the north and the Village Shops to the south, said Dan Park of the Earthworks Group, which is designing the project.

Micky Stikas, who owns the Village Shops, told the council this week he opposes the change from commercial zoning on the Magic Oaks tract. 

“It puts my uses in jeopardy and possibly in the nonconforming category,” he said.

The zoning ordinance doesn’t allow a tavern or nightclub within 300 feet of a residential zoning district.

 Even if his zoning isn’t affected, Stikis said his tenants will still face the prospect of adjoining residents complaining about noise and kitchen odors.

Anderson said he was also sympathetic to that argument.

“That music’s been here longer than I have,” he said.

But his focus is on wetlands, which he saw first hand on a visit to the site.

“It’s all wetlands,” he said.

Charles Oates, who is doing the wetlands delineation, said the Magic Oaks project will not impact wetlands.

He told County Council that he suspects that wetlands were filled at the Hammock Shops in the past, resulting in more water on the Magic Oaks tract.

Anderson said he wants the county to reduce the amount of impervious surface the county allows on developed property from 60 percent to 40 percent. 

“Pawleys Island has been doing that for 25 years,” he said.

In addition to improving drainage, Anderson said the change would also help reduce the density of residential development.

Concern over density led Keep It Green to support the zoning change.

“Keep It Green is in favor of reducing density on Waccamaw Neck and therefore supports this down-zoning,” said Duane Draper, the group’s president.

But he opposed changing the future land use map designation for the property from “conservation preservation” to “medium density residential.”

The group is among the plaintiffs in four lawsuits challenging county land use decisions. Those suits hinge in part on the relationship between the comprehensive plan, which includes the future land use maps, and the zoning.

If the maps are only a guide, as the county argues, then they don’t need to change to allow the Magic Oaks project, said Cindy Person, chief counsel for Keep It Green Advocacy.

After the council’s 7-0 vote to defer action, she and Draper said they are concerned because the existing “general residential” zoning allows high density development. 



Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us. Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org. Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com.   , .