Horry County officially adopts Imagine 2040 comprehensive plan

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County officially has a new plan in place to prepare for hundreds of thousands of people projected to move to the area over the next two decades.

After two years of planning and debates, the county’s Imagine 2040 comprehensive plan is no longer a concept, but now a law. County council unanimously approved the final reading of Imagine 2040 at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The plan will help leaders prepare for the estimated 275,000 people that will move to the county over the next 20 years.

“We’re going to keep building and keep having people come down here, at least we can do it smart,” said council chair Johnny Gardner. “This is a step in the right direction.”

The county will use Imagine 2040 to guide decisions on things like road or infrastructure projects, public safety upgrades and where to allow new homes to be built. About 38% of the county is considered “scenic and conservation land,” which has more development regulations.

As the plan was finalized, developers asked to make sure there’s enough flexibility in case new homes could be built on parts of that land.

“In the Imagine 2040 plan, the future land uses is a big deal to us,” said Jason Faulkner, president of the Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association at Tuesday’s meeting. “They’re not consistent with the existing zoning and the existing surrounding zoning.”

Council member Dennis DiSabato, who represents parts of Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach, says he wants to make sure council is ultimately responsible for which new developments are approved.

“We are the elected officials,” he said. “We are the only ones that are answerable to the voting public. The final decision making authority on these types of decisions should rest with us and not with planning commission or staff.”

If Imagine 2040’s population projections are correct, Horry County will need to build about 63,160 more homes over the next 20 years.

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