Surfside Beach passes final reading for updating lease agreement tied to pier despite opposition from Mayor, residents

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SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – An ordinance for an updated lease agreement for Atlantic Restaurant Group (ARG) passed final reading on Tuesday night, despite opposition from a number of residents, Mayor Bob Hellyer and other members of the Surfside Beach Town Council.

ARG owns Surf Diner, which is located on the Surfside Beach pier. When Surfside’s iconic pier is replaced, much larger buildings will stand at the shore end of it. Right now, Surf Diner is still open, while Pier Outfitters and Licks Ice Cream have closed. The building containing these businesses will be torn down and replaced.

Council has been deciding if ARG will continue leasing the oceanfront location from the town.

On Tuesday night, about half a dozen residents voiced their concerns or had letters read during a special meeting. Many of them believe the public was not given enough information about the lease agreement with ARG. The lease terms are not public.

Residents asked why ARG was selected and what benefits this agreement provides to the town.

“A lot of the decisions that have been made [in recent years in Surfside Beach] have not been made in the interest of the residents of Surfside Beach,” one resident wrote in a letter.

Mayor Hellyer has said previously that the terms of the amended lease agreement will become public after the lease’s final approval. Another member of council indicated that the agreement was beneficial to the town but was not allowed to provide specifics.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, there were lengthy discussions among council about potentially voting to allow lease agreement information to be made public before the plan moved forward but in the end, the effort failed when there were not enough votes in support of the effort.

The second reading of the ordinance passed by a vote of 4-3. Mayor Hellyer was among those who voted against the ordinance.

Mayor Hellyer told News13 previously that the town may finally be able to start building its new multimillion-dollar fishing pier by the end of October. Hurricane Matthew destroyed the pier in 2016.

Count on News13 for updates.

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