Horry County Council looks to approve Imagine 2040 before the end of 2019

Imagine 2040

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County is trying to finalize a plan that will help prepare for hundreds of thousands of people expected to move into the county by 2040.

After several major flooding events in recent years, county leaders are looking to prevent new homes from floods in future storms.

“We can really increase our resiliency and protect 50% of our county for generations,” said April O’Leary, who’s in the group Horry County Rising.

A land use map in the Imagine 2040 comprehensive plan will guide the county when deciding where to allow home construction. On that map, about 38% of Horry County would be called scenic and conservation land, which would have tougher development regulations.

While Imagine 2040 wouldn’t ban new homes on that land, developers say they want to make sure the rules aren’t too restrictive.

“You need the ability to trump planning commission in places where the comprehensive plan may be right, but council wants something else because that’s what the community would like to see,” said Felix Pitts of G3 Engineering.

Horry County Council held a workshop about Imagine 2040 on Thursday. It was mainly to explain how development proposals would be judged under the comprehensive plan.

Imagine 2040 would not necessarily set firm rules, but have guidelines that change with each case.

“This is not a forever map,” said county planning director David Schwerd. “It’s a living document, as well as the comprehensive plan. The map has to evolve every 5-10 years, if not more often, as data becomes available.”

Council chair Johnny Gardner says he wants Imagine 2040 to get final approval very soon, so council can define other issues like zoning regulations for larger developments and money paid by people moving into new homes.

“The law requires us to do it every 10 years, so we’ll have that out of the way, but as important is the fact that we’re taking a hard look at impact fees,” he said.

Imagine 2040 projects about 275,000 more people will live in Horry County 20 years from now. That would mean about 63,160 more homes would need to be built to match that growth.

Gardner says council will hold the final reading of Imagine 2040 at the next meeting on Dec. 10.

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