More homes are coming to the Pine Lakes area in Myrtle Beach despite residents' concerns that new development will result in unsafe traffic.
Myrtle Beach’s Planning Commission approved plans bringing 70 townhomes and 87 single family houses onto a 66.7 acres subdivision within city limits, but not until after a two-hour debate.
Pine Lakes is one of Myrtle Beach’s most historic neighborhoods centered around the Pine Lake Country Club. New homes would be placed along Granddaddy Drive, on the Robert M. Grissom side, and would not affect the golf course in any way.
But residents of Pine Lakes are worried new homeowners will use their neighborhood as a shortcut to Kings Highway and the beach.
“I know this is a passionate item for all of you who are impacted,” said Will Pritchard, the Planning Commission chairperson.
Walter Warren, with Thomas & Hutton engineering, spoke about the merits of the subdivision proposal on behalf of his client Lennars Carolina LLC, who are developing the property.
The land is still owned by Burroughs & Chapin company, but will be sold pending the city’s approval of the subdivision plans. Founders Group International owns the golf course.
The plans considered on Tuesday are one part of a three-phase planned unit development (PUD). The PUD was proposed by Burroughs & Chapin, then approved by Myrtle Beach City Council in 2006 to develop the property and set the parameters for how the land can be developed.
Once built, this phase of the subdivision will feature sidewalks, sustainable improvements and a walking trail that could be connected to the east coast greenway. The developers promise to preserve 80 percent of the trees currently on the property.
At a meeting on Sept. 1, residents voiced concerns about the project that resulted in the planning commission delaying their ultimate decision.
Granddaddy Drive, a public road, runs from Grissom Parkway toward the golf course. The rest of the paved street is private road, but due to some gates being left open, it can function as a shortcut to King’s Highway.
“Granddaddy is essentially a dead end for the public portion,” said Allison Hardin, a Myrtle Beach planner.
Hardin added that there is not enough public land to build a cul-de-sac at the end of the public section of Granddaddy Drive. While the land could be purchased in the future, right now a gate is the only way to keep traffic from taking the shortcut through the golf course.
Residents worried that new homeowners will use Granddaddy Drive as their primary shortcut, speeding through the historic neighborhood on their way to the beach. And as a result, cars flying down the road will impact the quality life for residents.
Neighborhood concerns over the new development also centered around preserving trees in the area and maintaining the historic neighborhood’s character.
The development is expected to generate more than 2,700 new car trips daily, according to a traffic study looking at 2019 and 2020 data. Commissioners shared public concerns about traffic, particularly at the intersection of Granddaddy Drive and Grissom Parkway.
In the original PUD agreement, the developers promised to block any non-emergency vehicles from using Granddaddy Drive. Resident William Monckton said during public comment that Pine Lakes residents were promised there wouldn't be an access through their neighborhood.
“We negotiated this back in 2006. There would be no access,” Monckton said. “We were promised when this PUD was enacted back in 2006 that we would be protected.”
Franklin Daniels, legal representative for Lennar Carolinas, said they will work with the Myrtle Beach zoning department to uphold their end of the deal and not allow traffic to use Grandaddy Drive as a shortcut as is required by the PUD agreement.
Monckton responded that Founders Group International needs to be a part of conversations to cut off traffic since they own the golf course. A gate that, hypothetically, could block traffic from crossing the course is currently open.
Commissioners would like to see Burroughs and Chapin, FGI and Lennar Carolina meet with the community to address these concerns.
Kenneth May, Myrtle Beach’s planning director, said he hasn’t received any complaints about Granddaddy Drive being used as a shortcut. May said enforcing the PUD agreement is up to city staff, and the planning commission's ruling should focus on if the subdivision is appropriate on its technical merits.
“This is not the zoning commission, it’s the planning commission,” May said.