Horry County leaders are looking to expand agritourism in the county.
The Infrastructure and Regulation Committee, a county council subcommittee, talked Tuesday about updating county regulations that say how farmers can use their land for agritourism like wedding venues and farm-to-table shops.
Right now, the county requires farmers who want to run those to still operate as a working farm.
The county has gotten a few requests recently from landowners who want to use their land zoned for agriculture for something other than farming.
Committee members questioned whether the land should still have to have a working farm on it, which is a farm that is actually selling and producing goods.
The county’s planning director said non-working farms would actually preserve farmland in the county by giving landowners income they may have stopped getting from farming. He explained that making money means they are less likely to sell their farmland to developers.
Councilman Al Allen, the subcommittee’s chairman, said there are many farmers discontinuing their operations, and allowing them to build a wedding venue or some sort of agritourism shop on their non-working farm would preserve the rural character of western and rural Horry County.
“How can you tell a farmer who has been farming his land and has had to make a very difficult financial choice not to farm this year that he can’t use his land for some other type of use and stuff that would help sustain his cost of that land?” Allen questioned.
Not everyone was on board with eliminating the working farm requirement. The chairman of the Horry County Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation told the committee he believes the spirit of the ordinance is to have something to do with farming and that there should still be some sort of farming requirement.
Ultimately, committee members asked that county planning staff draft amendments that would do away with the working farm requirement.
The discussion will go back to the subcommittee and eventually to full council.