Almost 20K acres of protected land in Carolina Forest. Horry County maps show large areas of conservation land

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(AP Photo/Alex Sanz)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) — For years now, residents of Horry County have been complaining about the lack of trees and green spaces left after all of the development.

But Horry County officials say there is more green space than people think.

David Schwerd, planning and zoning department head for the county, says because of environmental sensitivity, some areas are designated as scenic and conservation.

“So in Carolina Forest, for instance, there [are] almost twenty thousand acres of protected area that will never be developed,” Schwerd says, “but most people don’t think about it because in their individual neighborhood there [are] not as many trees that were protected forever.”

Schwerd says that he is aware of the criticism from the public. He says that the way Horry County tries to focus development is to reduce the lot size, to reduce the sprawl, and to be able to protect
larger tracks of contiguous open space.

“Scenic and Conservation does not prohibit development. It is a designated future land use category, which does not impact existing zoning rights,” Schwerd says, “Future land use designations provide guidance to Planning Commission and County Council in making decisions in regards to rezonings.” 

The proposed development would need to be consistent with the character of the community and not adversely impact the surrounding landscape. The development would need to address natural hazards, stormwater, public safety, access management, and wildlife through design, mitigation measures, capital improvements, or other necessary tools, according to Horry County’s Imagine 2040 comprehensive plan.

The plan also says that if development is deemed appropriate, it should incorporate best management practices for protecting environmentally sensitive areas and water quality, in addition to avoiding natural ha]ards and addressing public safety issues.

Green areas on the map are marked scenic and conservation by the Horry County GIS.

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