Myrtle Beach residents want to limit where new gas stations can be built

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A proposed ordinance in Myrtle Beach would change where you are able to pump gas.

Geoff Kay lives on the city’s north side and was part of the group that petitioned against a gas station and 24-hour convenience store in the summer because of the station’s proximity to homes in the neighborhood. Now, he and several of his neighbors are pushing for a citywide change.

The proposed ordinance, as written by Kay, would ban “gasoline pumps or underground storage … within 500 feet of any residentially zoned lot.”

“I believe Myrtle Beach should be a city where the residents should be able to separate their homes from the negative impacts of gas stations, including noise, pollutants, reduced property values and commercial activity,” Kay said. “I believe the city should be forward-looking and look at this ordinance as a way to do that.”

Kay admitted at Tuesday’s Myrtle Beach Planning Commission meeting that his proposal was written vaguely and could be too broad. He emphasized that he does not have an issue with existing gas stations but wants to place limits on the construction of new ones.

“I believe that’s a good thing and a positive outcome for the residents of Myrtle Beach,” Kay said. “I don’t know how many gas stations is too many, but there are plentiful gas stations in the city.”

There are 32 gas stations in Myrtle Beach with another two located inside donut holes within city limits. If the proposed ordinance were to take effect as written all 34 of those stations would be non-conforming properties.

“So essentially what you’re really asking for is to eliminate gas stations in the city of Myrtle Beach, and I just don’t think we’re prepared to do that,” Planning Commission member Zeb Thomas III said.

The commissioners pointed out where gas stations would be allowed under this proposal and said there were only three or four spots in the city that would allow for conforming properties.

Kelly Mezzapelle, the city’s senior planner, warned of the financial consequences of the ordinance, adding that simply grandfathering the existing stations into the ordinance could lead to more issues down the line.

“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get funding, a loan or a mortgage on a non-conforming property, and they would not be allowed to expand the footprint of non-conforming use,” Mezzapelle said.

The commission agreed to take up the proposal again within the next month after members have had time to do more research. Several commissioners said they wanted to see science-based facts before making a decision.

Kay and his neighbors organized a petition online to garner support for the ordinance. To date, Kay said it’s been signed by more than 400 people.

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