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Georgetown Co. Council approves site plans for Pawleys townhomes, legal action expected

Parkersville

The Georgetown County Council approved site plan review of two controversial townhome projects in the Pawleys Island area, including one for 47 multi-family units near the intersection of Parkersville and Martin Luther King roads. Mike Woodel/Staff

GEORGETOWN — The Georgetown County Council approved site plan reviews of two townhome developments in the Parkersville area Sept. 27 which received significant pushback from nearby residents.

The developments entail a total of 88 multi-family units — 41 in the Regatta Townhomes east of Petigru Drive and 47 in the Osprey Townhomes east of Parkersville Road. Votes of 5-1 approved each measure, with Councilman Bob Anderson voting against in each case. The Georgetown County Planning Commission voted 3-2 to deny approval of both projects on Aug. 18.

Georgetown County planning director Holly Richardson noted when introducing the Regatta Townhomes project that the council's approval of the site plan does not mean approval of a construction plan.

In discussion, Anderson told fellow council members that he felt the 41-unit Regatta development proposed too many townhomes for its 6.87-acre lot. 

"A townhouse is not a condo, it's not an apartment, it's a townhouse," Anderson said.

Councilman Steve Goggans, who represents the electoral district in which the developments are contained, countered that the precedent in this case was whether the applicant conformed with zoning requirements. He also consulted Georgetown County Attorney Jay Watson as to whether the county's comprehensive plan — the Future Land Use Map portion of which designates both Parkersville parcels as medium-density residential — took precedence over the county's zoning ordinance. Watson replied that it does not.

The decisions rendered by the council nearly mirrored a planning commission vote from Aug. 18. In that case, the commission unanimously approved site plan review for a 51-lot single-family subdivision at McDonald Road and Moury Drive near Georgetown just weeks after moving to reject it in a previous meeting. 

The Kingsbury subdivision request was reconsidered because the commission failed to provide a reason for its disapproval on July 21, as is required by Georgetown County land development regulations. Watson reminded the commission during discussion on Aug. 18 that the question to consider was only whether the subdivision complied with the county zoning ordinance.

The Parkersville development proposals drew considerable criticism from neighboring residents, including Georgetown County School District board member Lynne Ford and Pawleys Island Civic Club president Vincent Davis.

"If there is any councilman that will sit there and vote for development in our community without even taking time to review the Master Water Drainage Plan, not even taking the time to present the Master Water (Drainage) Plan to the community, if we lose one life because of this in our community, that will be a vote that we can never forget," Davis said.

Resident Deborah Greggs said the developments will lower the quality of living in the area.

"These developments will result in ponds," Greggs said. "(A) pond leads to various form of wild animals such as alligators. Again, I know this because I have two retention ponds next door, and my neighbors are alligators."

Attorney Cynthia Ranck Person of Keep It Green Advocacy addressed a Sept. 2 letter to the council on behalf of area minority homeowners and community groups, including the Pawleys Island Civic Club, asking that the council "bring all residential zoning ordinances and land development regulations in the Waccamaw Neck into conformity with the current Georgetown County Comprehensive Plan." Person told Georgetown Times following the Sept. 27 votes that she expects a lawsuit to follow.

"State law requires zoning to be in compliance with the comprehensive plan," Person said. "There are no court cases on it, so there will be now."

Prior to the site plan review votes, the council voted unanimously in favor of rezoning an approximately 9-acre parcel to make way for 22 single-family home sites at the northern corner of Martin Luther King Road and Petigru Drive. The development, titled "The Retreat at Stables," was favorably commented on by Keep It Green Advocacy and received a 5-0 vote of approval from the Georgetown County Planning Commission on Aug. 18.

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Mike Woodel reports on Georgetown County for The Post and Courier. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2018 and previously worked for newspapers in Montana and South Dakota.