CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – A $100 million hospital in Carolina Forest proposed by Conway Medical Center is moving forward.
About a mile from the busy intersection of Carolina Forest and International drives, on the west end of Carolina Forest, are trees, wetlands and the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. Even as this part of Horry County keeps growing, some people say they don’t want a hospital built at this location.
Residents who live in The Farm neighborhood, which would border the new hospital, say it would cause too much noise, traffic and flooding.
“A hospital right behind my home will irrevocably have a negative impact on my quality of life,” said Dan Flaherty, who lives in The Farm.
“There’s plenty of other opportunity to build in other areas that also have needs for hospitals,” said Richard McAndrew, who also lives in The Farm.
Horry County’s planning commission voted 7-2 Thursday night to recommend approving Conway Medical Center’s proposed hospital off International Drive. The plans were deferred before the planning commission’s November and December meetings. The project now goes to Horry County Council for approval.
CMC’s main Conway facility would transfer over 50 of its beds to the new hospital.
“We need all the hospitals that we can get,” said Charles Brown, a planning commission member representing Aynor. “We can complain about all these wetlands and this, that and the other. They’ll get those worked out.”
Despite approval, county planning director David Schwerd says the project could jeopardize land north of the proposed site called a wetlands mitigation bank, which is conservation land that could help fund road projects.
“We, as part of establishing a wetlands mitigation bank, have to do some controlled burning, as well as other forms to be able to get the wetlands back to the point where we can get a wetlands mitigation bank approved,” said Schwerd.
The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has expressed concern about the hospital, but Conway Medical’s CEO Bret Barr says CMC is willing to work with DNR to allow what’s needed to preserve this land.
“We made it clear that we’re committed to entering into an agreement, whether it be a conservation easement or some other instrument,” Barr said.
Conway Medical Center has said it hopes to open the hospital by 2024.